The Key to Being a Good Mother is Taking Care of YOU
One of the most consistent messages I share with moms everywhere is that a little ‘me time’ is essential to our individual wellbeing and to the wellbeing of all those who depend on us. There’s that all-important lesson we are reminded of every time we fly. The flight attendant asks us, in the case of a loss of pressure, to put on our own oxygen mask first before assisting others, including our children. The message is clear, if you can’t breathe, you can’t help anyone else. I find myself telling the moms I work with that they simply must make time for their own wellness if they hope to be their best self for their family. They usually understand this but either feel guilty or panicked wondering how they would get everything done if they tried to squeeze in time for themselves. Sadly, others look like they’re about to short-circuit when I suggest a “me date”. For moms of girls, you have added incentive to make time for yourself. If you wish for your daughter to one day become a strong, confident woman who achieves balance as partner and mother without losing her Self, give her permission to do so by modeling this reality.
May I suggest….
- The consistent opportunity to reflect. Whether it comes through yoga class, time set aside daily for meditation or just 5 minutes of intentional quiet time in the morning before you deal with anyone, daily reflection can make a world of difference.
- A little green. Sure, a little extra cash would be great. But, I’m talking about time outside, enjoying nature. A recent study released by the University of Essex explains that as little as 5 minutes a day of a green activity (gardening, nature walks, etc.) can boost both mood and self-esteem. For women, whose bodies are powerfully connected to nature, this is especially true.
- Daily exercise.Women often pride themselves on being superstars when it comes to multi-tasking and there is no better way to kill multiple ‘birds’ with one stone than exercise.
Besides exercise being an obvious means to a fit body inside and out, studies now show benefits that include stress reduction, moodimprovement, and more restful sleep. Also, as we age and begin to face greater risk of osteoporosis regular weight-bearing exercise builds bone density.
- A good book on your night table. Whether it’s a fun read, a powerful masterpiece (my number one ‘transformative’ recommendation for women I work with is Vicki Noble’s Shakti Woman) or an inspirational biography, few things provide the much-needed outlet that reading offers.
Some additional suggestions...
- Time for intimacy. Experts agree on the correlation between increased intimacy and decreased stress. “Being in an intimate relationship correlates to healing faster, getting sick less often and living longer,” explains James Coan, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Whatever your version of intimacy, make time to feed your body and soul with it.
- A chance to splurge every once in a while. A healthy, balanced diet is the fuel we all agree is best for women of all ages. That said, if you’re craving something you might not normally eat, there’s probably something in it your body needs. I consistently find women resistant to trusting their body and what it tells them. Try to reconnect and if it’s telling you a big fat scoop of chocolate ice cream is in order every now and then, listen to it!
- Some time with ‘the girls’. Research from UCLA clarifies what you may have always thought. Women differ greatly from men when stressed largely as a result of a physical reaction that dates back to the time of the caveman and cavewoman. When women are under stress, the released hormones do not entice them to either fight or flee like men, but rather encourages them to stay put and form friendships. The need for feminine bonding is real.
- Mental stimulation. Learn a new skill you’ve always wanted to have, join a book club, enroll in a continuing education program….the opportunities are endless. The only rule you must follow is that it has to be something that calls to you, not something you feel you’re supposed to know or do.
- Some old-fashioned pampering. A manicure, a massage or a full day at the spa is a terrific way to give back to yourself. So often we forget that more important than the value we hold in anyone else’s eyes is the value we hold in our own. You are a magnificent, loving, life-giving and life-sustaining creature. Remind yourself of this the moment you think about putting off time for YOU and remember that loving and honoring yourself will give your daughter permission to do the same for herself.