How often are you told as a mum to put yourself first, do something for yourself, take a break. What does that actually fucking mean? How often, where, when, with or without kids? I want to, but I don’t have the money or the time! I don’t have a baby sitter, hubby is at work, I have no one to do anything with! I’m to scared, I’ll have a panic attack, everyone will judge me, my kids will play up, no one can get the kids to bed but me, who will cook dinner, what if they miss me etc etc etc.
These are all things I used to say, questions I used to ask myself, shit I used as excuses to stay in the comfortable status quo of the daily grind. I look back now at the years I sacrificed trying to be a ‘good mum’ and fucking martyr of a women who gave up herself so that everyone else believed I had my shit together - I didn’t.
It has taken me YEARS of practice and conscious choices to actually understand what putting my own needs first actually means and I can tell you it doesn’t mean getting your hair done every 6 weeks or getting hubby to get up to the kids once every now and then through the night so you can get a full nights sleep.
Putting your own needs first is a deliberate way of living that ensures your cup is filled before anyone else's.
Now I ain’t perfect at this and sometimes I slip back and have to kick my ass out of it but the first place to start is with a bit of awareness in what you’re giving vs what you’re getting!
For me this started with writing down all the ‘stuff’ I did for myself during a week, I can tell you to start with it was a very short list! Took a bath, went for a walk - in short SWEET F ALL! Now when I look at what I do to put my own needs first it looks a little more like this:
Kids want Mac & Cheese for tea, I want Chicken Salad - We have Chicken Salad.
There’s washing to fold but I want to go see a friend - I go see the friend.
Kid wants to do certain after school activity but it always involves a fight to get ready - Kid doesn’t do activity anymore.
Kids want to go to the pool, I want to go for a walk - We go for a walk.
The kitchen needs cleaning but I’m tired - I go to bed.
I’m asked to help at school activity but I already feel too maxed out with life - I don’t help.
Work emails come in on the weekend or late in the evening - Work waits if I don’t have the energy.
Housework is calling but I want to sit with a coffee - I sit with a coffee.
I’m not managing the day to day shit - I tell people and ask for help.
Grandparents are in town and offer to babysit so I can spend time with hubby - I sure as hell take that time!
Putting your needs first is not about taking ‘time out’ or being away from your family it actually means making choices every fucking day that benefit you! Choices that reduce your mental load, choices that make you feel good and fill your cup!
In all my years supporting families I have NEVER EVER been concerned about the wellbeing of a baby, I never lay awake worrying about if their needs are being taken care of or are they well. I am lucky that my interactions are with families where this is not an issue. I have however worried about A LOT of mums, I’ve seen women breakdown from their own expectations and from not meeting their own needs. I’ve lay awake concerned about how much sleep they’re getting, how much support they have and how little they value themselves.
YOU are important! YOUR needs matter and YOU need to come first.