Taking Care of Yourself is Part of Taking Care of Your Kids

Mom Moment 7

childs poseI've been doing yoga for about 16 years, longer than I've been a parent. When I practice consistently, I feel almost like a different person: Calmer, more energetic, fewer aches and pains. Stress-related stomach problems are more manageable, tension headaches fade. My overall mood improves.

The perks are undeniable. So why do I rarely unroll my yoga mat these days? Simple: Because I'm the single, working mother of 2 kids, and that crazy thing called "me time" is in short supply. I'm pretty much okay with that -- I've always told myself that self-denial is just part of the parenting deal. Maternal instinct tells us to put our kids first. Maternal instinct told me to put my kids before yoga.

So I was surprised when my kids told me to do the opposite.

It came up one day as we were walking past a yoga studio. My daughter, who is 4 years older than my son and has fuzzy memories of the Mommy & Me yoga classes that served as a lifeline during those first few years of motherhood, stopped and looked at me. "Hey, remember when you used to do yoga all the time? Why don't you anymore?"

"I just don't really have the time," I said. "Between you guys and work and stuff, I'm too busy."

"You should start doing it again," said my daughter. "You were kind of happier when you did yoga. Like, not so stressed. Don't worry about us," she added, gesturing at my son. "We want you to be happy."

"Yeah," said my son. "It would be good for you."

I stared at them in disbelief. Where did these thoughtful, wise creatures come from? Then it hit me: A stressed mom = stressed kids. I'm no good to them when I'm a ball of anxiety with a stiff neck and throbbing temples.

It's funny. As parents, we're all familiar with the airline safety cliché: If the plane's going down, put your own oxygen mask on before your kid's (the concept being that you won't be much use to your child if you can't breathe). Common sense, really, which theoretically should apply to parenting in general, in-flight or not. But, as with so many things -- this is easier said then done. No matter how hungry we are, we make sure the kids get fed before we do. We make sure they're under the umbrella even if it means we get soaked. We put our own needs and wants on the backburner for so long they burn out or boil away.

This is what's best for our kids, we tell ourselves. But my kids told me the opposite, and I think I'm going to listen. Because what's good for me is good for them.

Do you feel bad about taking take time for yourself?


Image via tiffany assman/Flickr

healthy habits, stress, exercise


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SuzyB... SuzyBarno

Wow, I think it's great that your kids helped push you back into yoga. I think it's a great example to show our kids that yes, mom is a person who has other interests than her children. It's also a great example to show them how to be mentally and physically healthy. Even if you are an avid reader and you meet for book club once a month it still shows your kids a team environment. I myself am a runner and I really do enjoy yoga too but because if finances I only run. I think it's great for my kids to see me get ready, head out and when I get back we all stretch together. I'm happy, they are happy they spent some alone time with dad and we are all healthy. Dad plays tennis and softball, another great example. Of course, being a single mom I am sure that you don't have the flexibility of having another caretaker all the time, but it sounds like your kids are really supportive of you and love you. Never regret taking care of yourself. I feel as if my household is happier when we a take care of ourselves, physically, mentally and nutritionally.

the4m... the4mutts

I have a funny story.

When I first started doing tae-bo not long ago, I did it in the mornings in the summer, so I wouldn't get overheated. One day I heard a LOT of giggling behind me. I pause the dvd, and turn around. My 2 oldest are standing there just laughing their asses off. I asked what was so funny, and my 6y/o DD said "mom, your butt jiggles a lot when you exercise"

I laughed it off, but inside it kinda stung.

I started doing it at night once they were in bed. A few weeks later she asked me why I stopped exercising. I told her I do it after they're in bed. She thought about it and said "I'm sorry I said your butt jiggles, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. We like watching you exercise"

She figured it out all on her own, and then even offered to exercise with me if I would start doing it in the morning again. Cute damn kids :)

Pinkmani Pinkmani

My mom always feels better after getting her hair and nails done. Mani/pedis became a weekly thing for her.

babya... babyanderson

Yes, the unbearable guilt of doing something for myself makes the things I used to enjoy not fun anymore. I have 3 boys ages 8, 5 and 3 months old. I almost feel that if I'm not catering to them then I'm not doing my job. The guilt has increased exponentially since having my youngest. I think my "me time" days are over for at least another 18 years...but I'm ok with it, I feel like I matter when I'm needed.

Yoga Love

If one can not take care of own self, he/she can not think about other family members, especially kids. It's very necessary to take care of body and mind and I think Yoga is the perfect journey to follow and to maintain a peaceful, healthy and balanced life.

Nayeema Akter

TDLyric TDLyric

I am SO guilty of this. I am constantly stressed and trying to do everything. I get completely left out. I've even taken it to a new level. I will save gift cards I am given to get the kids and my husband stuff instead of me! I don't do ANYTHING for me that isn't physically necessary or like showering. I realised recently how not good thanks is for my family. So for the first time in years I'm going to a belly dancing class and even seeing a movie with a friend later in the week. If momma isn't happy no one is.

Angie... AngieHayes

I love getting out and going to heated yoga, its my favorite, but not always easy!! Definitly try and find the time to do something like that for yourself, it is so important.

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