It's not the easiest thing to make time for yourself when you have children. If anything, it gets bumped down to the very bottom of your priority list (if it's on the list at all). But there came a point in my life when my inability to prioritize self-care became detrimental to my emotional health and overall wellbeing as a wife, mother, and woman. I'm sure a lot of moms can relate and feel guilty about taking time for themselves. That's why I think it's important to know the things your kid learns from you when you make time for yourself. Should you care about your needs only because they benefit your child, too? No. You matter all on your own. But if you need some additional incentive to bump yourself up on your priority list, so be it.
After a long battle with postpartum depression (PPD), I realized there was no better time to put myself first than right then and there. I had a second chance at life (literally) and refused to let it escape me. That meant a lot of things needed to change if I was going to be the mother my kids needed, the wife my husband deserved, and the person I wanted to be. It took some time to accept that putting myself first isn't a selfish thing to do, though. In fact, it's a necessary component in creating a happier, healthier version of me.
I took up running and I go whenever I need to and regardless of what's happening around me, because it makes for a clearer, more patient me. I write as often as necessary because I've learned that without writing my thoughts jumble up and I lean towards a depressive disorder phase. I take a nightly bath to find some peace. In other words, whatever I can do to make myself happy, I do it. I know I'm better for it, and I know that if we, as women, fought against the notion that we're only valuable to those we love if we give up every single part of ourselves, more mothers would be happier and healthier, too.
If you're struggling with putting yourself first and feeling guilty for valuing your own needs, I urge you to think about the following things you're teaching you kid(s) when you make the time; lessons they might not learn if you don't take care of yourself before you start caring for everyone else:
Moms Matter, Too
For a long time I felt like the least important person in my home. In fact, sometimes I still feel that way. Though I'm in charge of nearly everything, and I'm the one everyone comes to for everything (even if I specifically tell my kids to ask their dad), everyone seems to easily forget that I matter, too. The person who helps everyone else re-charge needs to re-charge, too, and when I take time to myself my children realize that mom matters.
Self-Care Is Critical
If my kids don't see that I put myself first, how will they learn to do the same for themselves when they need it? When I go for a run every morning, I hope my kids are learning that I care about my health and that I want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. When I Leave the house for some solo-time it's my intent to re-energize for the sake of my sanity, but I also want my kids to see what independence looks like and how they can learn to be independent, too. After all, if I'm always the one they run to for everything, they'll never figure out how to be without me. It's a favor to all of us.
Caring About Yourself Isn't Selfish
If I ignored my needs for the sake of everyone else's, I wouldn't be here. Or, if I had managed to survive, I'd be so disheveled and so defeated that I couldn't be the mom, life partner, or person I know I can be. Not making time for myself means I can't give the best parts of myself to everyone else, and I truly believe that's what my kids learn when I tell them I'm doing something for me, and only me.
Everyone Needs To Fill Their Own Well
Plans change and schedules can be rearranged and even the best of intentions can fall by the wayside in the middle of the day-to-day chaos that is parenthood. But if I didn't make sure my self-care time was blocked off, regardless, I wouldn't be able to get through that chaos. I have to fill my well if I am going to be able to make it through a day, a week, a month, or a year. I schedule my time as a mandatory thing, and it's as important as a doctor's appointment. It has to happen.
Someone Needing Time Alone Doesn't Mean They Love You Less
Making time for myself is not a direct reflection of how little I love my children. In fact, I would argue it's proof of how much I do love them. Putting myself first means I want to be around longer, and I want that time to be the best it can possibly be. I love my family so much, making time for myself is my gift to them.
Everyone's Needs Are Different
My daughter and her father are extroverts who feed off the energy of others in order to get through a day. I'm the exact opposite and don't only crave time to myself — I need it. Without it I'm just not me. We're not all wired the same, and that's OK as long as each of us do what we require to be our best selves.
You Need To Love Yourself First
I hope I'm teaching my kids not only am I important, it's important I acknowledge the love I need to have for myself. If I don't love me, how can I love anyone else? Making time for myself is no longer up for debate and I think my family understands. For that, I'm grateful.