Remember when you used to fly? You know, back before you had a bunch of little ones clinging to your leg and transporting your family via continental air wouldn’t have meant selling one of them in order to afford the costs? Your flight attendants gave you very sound advice; good advice in the event of an emergency on the plane, but really, good advice in general. They always told you “put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”
Sound advice right? However, “how to be a mom” classes, “good parenting” magazines, and “what to expect” types of books typically advise us to tend to our babies before ourselves. No one ever informs us that being a selfish mom is the best way to be a great mom.
That said, if we go back to the flight attendant’s instructions; if you can’t breathe, you are no good to anyone around you.
So, today we’ll remind you how to take a deep breath, girlfriend, because you’ve earned it. This isn’t some in through your nose, go get a massage, out through your mouth type of post. Duh, massages feel good. They also only last for 60 minutes, at which point you can’t really “relax, take it easy, and zen for the rest of the day while your body soaks in the oils and peace of what just transpired.” You walk out of that salon with a to-do list that just got one hour longer because of the time you took to go get a massage. Knots in your back before you even buckle your seat belt, thank you.
No, today we’ll advise you to do the things that seem kind of obvious, but are often pushed to the back burner. You need these things, mama, because your family needs you to be breathing.
1. Get Some Sleep!
Seriously. Of course there are times in our lives when being tired is the only option: newborns, new puppy in the house, a passion project with a deadline…
However, if you are consistently getting too little sleep, you’re basically drunk. A sleep-deprived parent’s reaction time and ability to process information is comparable to that of an alcohol addled brain. Yikes. Do you really want to be driving your kiddos around like that? While we all know that you sometimes have to forgo a couple of hours to get some stuff done, remember that you can often forgo getting some stuff done for a couple more hours of sleep.
2. Practice What You Preach
Have you ever tried to tell your kid to do something while you were doing the opposite? For example, perhaps your mom would tell you not to say certain words while cussing up a storm? Did it work?
Your children are more apt to imitate you than they are to listen to you. If you want to teach your children that they matter, that their needs are important, and that everyone’s needs are equally important, then you need to start taking care of yourself.
How can you relay the importance of good hygiene if you’re always in sweats and your husband’s oversized tee? How can you talk about how breakfast is vital if you’re always skipping it yourself? Your child is going to grow up and adopt many of the habits they see in their childhood. What do you want them to remember?
3. Be Intentional about Your Health
Speaking of health, what are you eating? We’re not going to give you a spiel on how to lose weight, or even that you need to, but eating vegetables isn’t just about moving the needle on the scale (is there anyone who doesn’t have a digital scale these days?). What you serve for dinner is what your family is going to eat. Most of the time (okay, some of the time), but listen, you’re the mom!
Most of us begrudgingly cook dinner. Sometimes it’s a joy. Most times, it’s a chore. While it’s certainly easier to grab fast food, especially when you’re tired from not sleeping and running off coffee fumes, it’s not at all the best route in the long run. Being intentional about your health means being intentional about your family’s health.
Not only does eating right provide more energy, more mental clarity, and less irritability and mood swings, it also provides the nutrients your growing kiddos need and the habits they need to learn. If you want them to eat more broccoli, you’ve gotta eat more broccoli. In fact, if all you ever serve is broccoli, that’s what they’ll eat. Eventually. We promise they won’t starve themselves. They might go to bed hungry for a few days, but you know, being more stubborn than your toddler is what good moms are made of.
4. Remember Yourself
You are a person. Crazy concept, right? Unless you qualify for senior citizen discounts, you’ve been an un-mommy version of YOU longer than you’ve been YOU as a mommy. This means you’ve had years and years to develop as a human being before you ever had to think about what kind of mother you wanted to be.
Being a mom doesn’t negate all those previous years. Yes, it helps to not think about the random motorcycle ride you chose to go on one night with a complete stranger, but that crazy, irresponsible, reckless girl was the same woman whose heart is full of passion and creativity today. You don’t need to go speeding down the road with a random guy to tap back into who you are and what you want.
Remember yourself outside of the roles you fulfill as wife and mother. Set aside time each day to just explore your own heart. It’s not bad parenting to tell your 4 year old she needs to go play by herself for a bit while you journal. Not that anyone ever does that, ahem. It’s good parenting. She’ll learn how to play by herself and you get to journal.
If you want to show your kids what it means to love, embrace, accept, and celebrate yourself, you have to know yourself. You have to find yourself again.
Putting yourself first isn’t about casual luxuries that cost a ton of money. It’s not actually conducive to your psyche to spend $40 on a new set of nails. We won’t begrudge anyone a good manicure, obviously, but that’s not the kind of selfish that produces lasting, amazing results in both you and your family.
Be a selfish mom because you’re a great mom. What selfish activity makes you great?
Photo Credits: Ferriel Photography