Self-Care Isn't Selfish
As a busy parent, it is easy for self-care to end up last on the priority list. Have you ever paid attention to the safety video on a plane? They tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before helping others. Imagine you were on a plane and you felt obliged to be ‘selfless.' So you put the oxygen masks on your children and others around you first. Then you ended up running out of oxygen! How helpful are you going to be in an emergency now that you’ve passed out on the floor? One could even say that in this situation, it would be selfish to put yourself last!
Self-care isn't selfish
It is your right and your responsibility to look after yourself. Yet it seems as though there is this attitude that suggests self-care is selfish. If you do take the time to care for yourself, you can be on the receiving end of judgemental comments from others, or a guilt inflicting voice from within. The trick here, is to not care what others think and don't compare yourself to others. Banish the inner critiquing voice, and replace it by talking kindly and gently to yourself, as if you were a small child. Look after yourself, and don't allow yourself to feel guilty for doing so. Because if you don’t look after yourself, who else will?
Teach your children
I can’t help but wonder if these attitudes come from childhood. When we were kids, many of us were taught to put ourselves last, not to be selfish, etc. Of course I agree we must teach kids to be considerate of others. But perhaps we take this a bit too far. I believe that for every time we tell a child not to be selfish, we must also remind them at some other point in the day, that it is essential for them to look after themselves. Otherwise they may grow up thinking self-care is not important, or feel guilty when they take the time to practice self-care.
Nourish yourself like a plant
A few months ago, I bought some fresh, organic garlic bulbs from a farmer in the Swan Valley. The farmer told me to plant the garlic in a sunny spot in homemade compost, and water it. My garlic patch is now thriving! I have previously tried to grow garlic in plain sand without any compost. Without the nutrients it needed, the garlic died. It is not selfish for my growing garlic to need sunshine, rainwater and a nourishing environment. You are a living being, like a plant. It is not selfish for you to require certain things to grow. All plants are different; all people are unique. Your needs will be different to mine. One person may need coffee in the morning, another may need meditation. One person may need time alone, another may need time with their friends. Some plants need more water than others, and some people require more TLC than others. Plants don’t judge each other for being different and neither should we.
It is ok to be you
It is ok for you to get your hair done if it makes you feel nice. It is ok for you go to bed early if you need rest; I promise you the chores and mess won’t go anywhere, and will be waiting for you in the morning. It is ok for you to have a wine after a long, hard day. It is ok for the kids to watch cartoons on the weekends in the morning so you can have a sleep in. It is ok for you to go out and socialise with your friends. It is ok for you to have hobbies. It is ok to be you.
You are worth it
So if you are like a tree in your family, and your kids are like the fruit, and you want healthy fruit, then make self-care a priority. Actively seek out what you need to grow. Sometimes you need to fight for it! Maybe you need to fill your mind with uplifting words and surround yourself with positive people. Maybe you need a rest. Maybe you need some alone time surrounded by nature. Maybe you need to go to the gym. Maybe you need to discover how to look after yourself. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to practice the art of self-care. Whatever you need for your mind, body or soul, make it happen!
Yes, your family are your priority. But don’t forget to nourish yourself as well, so that you are able to nurture your children and others around you! When it comes to parenting, this means making self-care a priority, because without you, your family would fall apart. Do you take the time to care for yourself as a parent? How do you practice the art of self-care?