I've always been the kind of person who takes care of everyone else better than I take care of myself. I've been called everything from selfless to a "people pleaser," and I admit that I like the feeling I get from helping others, which is much better than the guilt and self-deprecation I seem to resort to when I do nice things for myself.
I know now that if I'm not healthy, both physically and emotionally, I won't be around to take care of anyone at all.
Too bad I didn't learn this lesson until recently.
One might think that the ability to put others' needs over my own would make me an amazing caretaker and wonderful mother. I mean, much of what we do as parents is selfless, and certainly doesn't reap any rewards or thanks. Well, early on at least. Though I consider it a reward that my children are alive and well.
But truthfully, I'm pretty sure my people-pleasing behavior negatively affected me as a parent because I was absolutely 100 percent willing to run myself completely ragged at the expense of my children.
Yes, we all have the sleepless nights and the challenging moments when we have to prioritize our babies over ourselves.
But then there are those times when we could take a shower and get dressed, but instead we do someone's laundry. Or change a diaper that was barely even wet.
We get up in the middle of the night when it's not really our turn because it's easier or faster or because we think our spouses need the sleep more.
What about me? Don't I need sleep too?
Lucky for many of us, we've got friends and partners who are our advocates and will call us out on our own crap even when we won't. They'll force us to sleep when the baby sleeps, or take a coffee break when we've been alone with the kids for five days straight.
But we need to be advocates for ourselves. We need to give OURSELVES permission.
Because when someone else does it for us, you're wracked with guilt if you're anything like me. And worse still, resentment.
No matter how many times I heard the "put your oxygen mask on first and then your child's" analogy, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
But now I realize that I'm happier and my kids are happier when I'm not a ball of anxiety, worry, and frustration. And I finally know how important it is to put myself first sometimes.
I'll sing it off the rooftops: YOU matter, moms. And don't you ever forget it.
Do you feel guilty taking time for yourself?
Image via lwpkommunikacio/Flickr
Do it yourself
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