Mums, if you’re like us, you love being treated to breakfast in bed and a macaroni necklace on Mother’s Day. Nothing quite like a little special treatment from your loved ones to say thank you for everything you do for them! But we all know it’s equally important that you look out for yourself too on this roller coaster ride that is motherhood.
So whether you’re a seasoned mum, newbie mum, expecting mum, bereaved mum, adoptive mum, step mum, foster mum or caregiver, here’s a sweet little reminder to make your health and happiness a priority (and three simple steps to get things rolling).
Dear mums… you have self-care superpowers!
Having worked with thousands of mums before becoming a mother myself, I had noticed a common thread. There was such an intense outward focus on their child or children, that often they themselves did not even make it onto the list of people within their own circle of nurture.
I then entered the world of motherhood, having three children in two and a half years. And yes, those early years were an absolute whirlwind! No matter our motherhood context, it certainly does come with a very steep personal learning curve, as well as the many silent (and not so silent) societal, cultural, and personal expectations.
So, how do you give the people in your life the best of you, rather than what is left of you? By making the decision each day to reconnect with yourself. Here are three superpowered ways to do this.
1. Honour your humanness
Just reminding you – you are human!
It may sound a little silly to remind you of your humanness, but somehow the moment when you become a mother there’s a gross misconception that you now automatically know everything there is to know about raising a child! And that you also miraculously develop superhuman powers that make you confident, positive, loving, patient and full of unending blissful glee.
At that moment, the quiet quest for being a close-to-perfect mother may begin.
My four-year-old daughter came to me one day and asked, “Mum, why do kids have mums?” I was a little surprised at that question. I wondered, hadn’t she noticed how much is done each day as part of the mothering role?!
“Well, kids have mums for lots of reasons,” [I replied]. “We help keep you safe; we teach you things; we help you to be able to do different things; we do our best to help you grow with healthy foods…” I trailed off and asked her the question in return.
“Why do you think kids have mums?” She looked up at me with open simplicity, her round moon face reflecting the light, while her innocent wide eyes seemed so sure. She gently responded, “To love them”.
I paused. Not just any pause. A heart-struck pause. The kind that you feel throughout your core, that tells you to listen up and pay attention as wisdom had just been shared.
My lesson that day has carried forward – get your mind out of all the ‘stuff’ that needs doing, and simply come back to human connection. Kids have mums to love them. Full stop.1
2. Detox the labels in your life
Detoxing the labels in your life requires awareness and practise. What labels have you applied to yourself or unknowingly adopted from what others have said about you? Choose the labels that best build you up, and ditch the rest.
Begin with this exercise:
- Write a list of as many words as possible to describe yourself. Look over your list.
- Now write a second list of words to describe you, but this time don’t include any words that reference the roles you play in life, e.g. mother, manager, etc. Take your time with this. Although challenging it is invaluable.
This exercise is the first step and a conscious decision to come back to yourself, reflecting on who you are without the many ‘hats’ you wear. It also helps you to be more attuned to describing and identifying yourself in a way that cannot be affected by the external world. Use those words in the second list to complete a quiet mantra, “I am…” that floats through your mind each day.
3. Make YOU a decision that you make each and every day
Many mums have their to-do lists racing around in their minds, sometimes keeping them up at night – there is so much to do! This is often what stops mums from making time with themselves.
As part of your everyday routine, take a moment to get it all out of your head, and onto a list. A good time for this is just before bedtime! Keep a list on your phone that you add to throughout the day, or record voice memos – choose a system that works for you.
By adding this activity to your evening routine, you will create space to start the day with YOU! Set your alarm 15-20 minutes before your usual wake-up time. This time is not for your to-do list, it is for you to be with you, in any way you choose.
Including yourself in your own circle of nurture enriches you, and those with whom you share your world. Mums, you matter. You are valued. You are loved. It is time for you to flourish.
Written by Sonia Bestulic. Sonia is a multi-award nominated author, founding director of Talking Heads Speech Pathology, podcaster of Chatabout Children with Sonia Bestulic, and highly regarded speaker. Sonia is an advocate for honouring mothers’ wellbeing, celebrating children, and living a life powered by love. Find her at www.soniabestulic.com.au.