I am the first to admit that I am completely terrible when it comes to taking care of myself. To other people, it probably doesn’t look like that. I am not skinny, but not fat. You will find me at a delicious bakery and never at a McDonalds. I often will have links on my Facebook page about the latest health fad or craze, and when I post it I probably totally intend on doing it. And I spend most mornings in exercise clothes so that would surely give people the completely wrong idea. Yes, I do exercise. But certainly not as much as I wear my Lulu Lemon gear.
Shamefully, I often drink a double shot of coffee and call that breakfast. Maybe I’ll shove something quickly in my mouth a few hours later but I can promise you that it is not nearly as nutritious as what my children would have eaten that morning. The dinner menu for the kids is carefully considered every single day. What food groups have they not had this week? What did they have for dinner last night? They’ve never had this certain food before so I better make a side that I know they like.. All these thoughts and more go into what goes on their plates on a daily basis. But for me..? Oh well hubby isn’t going to be home for dinner tonight so I’ll just have a toasted cheese sandwich because by the time I’ve put the kids to bed and tidied up dinner and the toys from the day, the last thing I’ll want to do is make more mess in the kitchen! And did I mention the wine that I definitely had? Yep, so I pretty much feed on coffee in the morning and wine and sandwiches for survival at night.
And then there are the visits to the dr. I am not one of those paranoid mums that take their children to the doctor at every single itchy bite or even fever for that matter. But my girls go to the dr when they need to. Want to know the last time I think I went to a specialist for myself? Probably when I had my postnatal appointment with my obstetrician. Two and a half years ago! We take our kids for regular check ups – how often do we check up and in with ourselves?
Exercise.. Both my kids do playball, they have dabbled in gymnastics, swimming, gymbaroo, baby Ballet and now I am looking into Yoga. Yoga!!!! Do you think I’ve done so much as a day of yoga in my whole life? Isn’t it ridiculous that we make sure that our children are getting lots of good exercise and are being open minded and constantly trying new things but we don’t make time for ourselves to exercise half the amount as them?! I do (proudly) have a gym membership and have started somewhat enjoying exercise but it took months of me deciding whether we could spend the money, and deliberating (stalling) to get started and a few months later I had to put it on because I am just too busy. Even as I write it, I know how bad it sounds. I don’t let my girls quit halfway through a term so why do I so easily justify it to myself?
Suppose we started caring about how much sleep we got. Do you put yourself to bed at night ever after dinner and actually go to sleep? No, that’s when we tidy up, fold washing, make school lunches, and wrap a birthday present for the next day’s party. Maybe we Google the next recipes we want to make. We don’t switch off. Dare I even suggest insisting on a naptime like we do with our toddlers?
What happens to us? It seems that we become pregnant and start lending our bodies to our babies and then never reclaim ourselves. Maybe we breastfeed and keep giving, maybe we co-sleep and keep sharing. Maybe our headspace belongs to our worries and we feel that there isn’t room for thinking of ourselves?
But it’s silly. Totally ludicrous. How can we take care of others when we are not tapping into our own needs? How can we give? What will be left to give? How will our children learn from us and what will they take from our go-go-go attitude?
If you ever looked at First Lady Michelle Obama’s arms, you would know that she is definitely taking time out from her White House Duties to look after herself. She has two girls and clearly models healthy behaviours to them. If she has time to do it, surely so do I?
We seem to want it all but ‘all’ is exhausting. I am often so scared of being selfish and feel such extreme guilt about taking time out for myself that when I finally do, I feel as if I am going to burst…
We all need to find our thing, our own time to meditate, to appreciate, to eat, to breathe. To just stop. To be present with ourselves and to check in with who we are and what we need.
If nothing else… It will make us better mothers.