As parents, it's so easy to put everyone else's needs before our own. But what does that achieve? Does it mean our loved ones gain more from our depletion? Or are they experiencing a half-present, exhausted version of ourselves – lukewarm love?
In my experience, I've learned you can only burn the candle at both ends for a finite amount of time. Eventually, it catches up with us and slowly but surely, the light inside of us fades.
Does this sound familiar?
I'm a mum; I work, I run a home, I'm a carer, I'm the homework helper, the game player, the house cleaner, the shopper, the friend, the number one cheerleader, the confidant, and the problem solver. Would I change any of that? No (well maybe the house cleaner part), and I'm not asking you to either. I'm just suggesting that you save a little piece of the pie for yourself so that you can be the best version of you.
Leave the guilt behind
Being a mum is the most amazing, incredible thing that has ever happened to me and I'm sure you think the same thing. I love my life but learned the hard way that by giving everything to those I love the most, I would have nothing left for me. How is that in anyone's best interest?
You may be asking yourself, isn't that selfish? The answer is a resounding ‘no'. In fact, it's quite the opposite – you're teaching your kids something invaluable about how to treat themselves. Ask yourself, ‘Do I want them to grow up to serve others and forget about themselves? Is this what I want their image of love to look like? No way! I don't want that for them, and I don't want that for myself.
Set the benchmark for love
You need to show your children how to love themselves. Sure, you can tell them what to do, but if they cannot physically see you living by your words and how happy and fulfilled it makes you, then it’s time to start. Be the example.
Now the tricky part – how do you become the example and how do you make it part of daily living?
This will be different for everyone, but for me, the process involved:
- Recognising the imbalance of love
- Introducing and integrating self-love rituals into my life
- Discovering aromatherapy
- Rediscovering music and podcasts
- Here’s what that looked like in practice:
Recognising the imbalance of love
The first and most critical part of the process was taking a step back and recognising that I was running on empty – my self-love-o-meter was dangerously low. Once I saw this, and I mean really saw it, I knew I needed to instigate some serious changes – for my own sake and my family’s. So I did. Starting with me.
Introducing and integrating self-love rituals into everyday life
I learned to love every part of me from the inside out. Every. Day. This took some time, and after experiencing the lesson first-hand, I would recommend taking this part of the process intentionally slowly too. Why not dive in? Because this step involves creating self-love rituals or habits that will eventually become second nature to you and your family. These things take time, and you want the habits to last longer than a week, month, or year.
One of my most treasured rituals, thanks to Kim Morrison, involved introducing a daily body boost with the amazing Twenty8 Essential oils. Each morning after my shower, I would add an essential oil blend to a small amount of almond oil and magnesium spray. I would start at my feet and slowly work my way up my body rubbing the oil into my skin and giving thanks for my legs, my hips, my stomach – you get the picture.
At the end of the ritual, I would look at myself in the mirror and say something loving, like "I am a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman." I felt silly at first, but eventually, I became genuinely thankful for the body I have been given (flabby bits and all). I realised that this body would serve me for a lifetime, so I'd better start looking after it.
Next, I introduced aromatherapy to my family home! You couldn’t walk into my house without finding a Twenty8 Essential Oil bottle somewhere in the room. I used the essential oils as a pick me up and a support system. I learnt which synergy blends I needed to get me through certain parts of the day and had them burning at work, on a tissue down my bra, or in a spritz bottle in my handbag. They had become a constant – a lifeline.
Rediscovering music and podcasts
It seems so simple, but playing music and having a sing or dance can do wonders for your self-love routine! Who doesn’t feel a boost when they’re singing out loud?
I would listen to music that made me happy and found Podcasts to engage my brain with interesting and inspiring information. Podcasts, in particular, ignited a fire in my mind that I hadn’t experienced in a long time, the more I listened, the more I learnt, the more I wanted to know!
Creating a habit
I put these rituals into place every day until they became a habit - a part of normal living. I could see and feel the effects on those around me. I was calmer (not that I was neurotic before), but everything just seemed easier. The kids’ little disagreements didn’t bother me as much, my need to have a clean house moved further down the list, I was more energised, and I learnt to laugh and have fun.
My kids became more relaxed because mummy was relaxed. I had more patience, and my stress levels reduced dramatically - all because I committed to 'me time'. The little self-care rituals I put in place filled my cup beyond capacity, and the extra love and care started to spill over to those who I love the most.
Though only a small part of what I did to change my life, these baby steps opened doors and made me the women that I am today. I AM STRONG, I AM BEAUTIFUL, and I AM INTELLIGENT! I’ll wager you are too.