Nurturers can burn out, be kind to yourself like you are to your kids.
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
As mothers, we are nurturers. I think as nurturers, though, we often neglect our own needs. We go without, so that our children have more. Unfortunately, that isn't sustainable. Our unmet needs are eventually going to rear their heads.
We need to nurture ourselves, and be as kind to ourselves, as we are to our children.
In one of the mom's groups I am in, one woman was saying that last week, after she put the kids to bed, she was up until 5am cleaning the house. And that struck me. We can't spend all of our time burning the candle at both ends, or pretty soon there will be nothing left.
The Importance of Kindness
All of us try to be kind to our children, our spouses, our friends and neighbors. We are there for PTA meetings, children's parties, company BBQ's and so many other events. We always have a smile, a kind word, and a hand reaching out to help others.
We help the kids with their homework, we council them about problems with friends, we pick them up when they fall down and scrape a knee. We try to be teacher, doctor, friends and coaches, all in one. Sometimes brilliantly.
There is that meme that always goes around Facebook saying, "Always be kind, you never know what struggles someone is going through." That is very true. Especially now, many people are nearing a breaking point, and even what is a small kindness when given, can mean the world to a person who receives it.
It is important to make sure that we are just as kind and gentle with ourselves as we are with others. Our needs are just as valid, but many of us have been taught that putting our own needs last makes us better moms.
As parents, there are many things that we sacrifice for our children. Our figures, when they are born. Our sleep. A night out. Our money. Our time.
Most of the time, I think that giving up something of ourselves for our children is a good thing. We give up nights of partying with friends to stay home and watch Disney movies instead.
But, there can come a time when we are sacrificing too much. Often unnecessarily so. I feel like there is this myth that when we become mothers, our needs cease to exist, and only the children matter. We get so used to sacrificing, that we forget how to do anything else.
Instead of trying to get our pre-mom bodies back, we give up and buy bigger and bigger "mom jeans." Instead of giving up one night with friends, we give up having friends altogether. We stay up all night out of habit, even when the kids are sleeping, to worry about what needs to be done tomorrow. Our kids don't need to do that.
Be Kind to Yourself!
Give yourself the same kindness that you give your kids. You matter. Your needs matter.
Stop sacrificing out of habit, and pull back to only sacrificing when a situation really calls for it. I mean yeah, maybe you shouldn't go to the Bon Jovi concert that falls on the same day as your kid's graduation. But their 3rd pre-season soccer game? It could be OK to miss that one. You don't need to sacrifice EVERYTHING.
Just because you became a parent, it doesn't mean you stopped being a person.
Personally, I have real trouble with setting boundaries, and saying no. This week, I told my teen daughter that I couldn't care for (her and her partner's) 3 more pets while I am working from home. I told them they have to put the pets downstairs so I can concentrate. It needed to happen, because to continue having a job I need to actually do my work. I have been beating myself up with guilt though, feeling like I should be doing more.
The pets aren't suffering. They have a whole finished basement to run around. The kids aren't suffering either. But I was. And unnecessarily so.
This morning, my therapist said to me, "Your needs are valid." It made me stop to think. What advice would I give to a friend about this? So, I am telling all of you, what I needed someone else to tell me.
Your needs are valid. Taking care of yourself is not selfish.
You don't need to walk around all day with stringy, unwashed hair, in a dirty nightgown because you gave up showering to spend five more minutes with the kids. Trust me, they will be fine for five minutes. They are not going to grow up saying that you neglected them. And take it from me, if they are not fine, they will come in the bathroom and let you know.
Be kind to yourself, the way you are kind to everyone else. Love yourself, the way you love everyone else. Meet your needs, the way you meet everyone else's needs.
Remember, it is rarely an either - or situation, where only one person's needs can be met. As a family, we can work as a team to make sure that everyone's needs get met. Including yours!
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