Why It’s Not Selfish to Take Care of Yourself
My epiphany came during the pre-flight safety ritual on a recent trip. You know the routine: exits are here, here, and here; your seat cushion is a flotation device (great!); stay seated until the captain turns off the seatbelt sign, etc. The thing that got my attention in a new way was the set of instructions regarding the drop-down emergency oxygen masks. Our flight attendant reminded us that if others around you (children, for instance) need help with their masks, put on your mask FIRST, then help them. Why? Because if you can’t breathe, you may fall out before you’ve adequately helped them, or even helped yourself.
It’s a perfect illustration of the life of a mom. Everyone around us—our kids, our husbands, our older parents—depend on us for a thousand things each day. In order to meet the needs of our families, we need healthy bodies, clear minds, and nourished souls. Many moms don’t take the time each day to exercise, to have a time of spiritual renewal, or to invest in friendships which “fill their cup.” They feel guilty focusing on themselves, even for a brief interlude. But is it really selfish if it makes you a better, more balanced mom? We say taking care of yourself makes good sense for you and your family. Here are 4 reasons you need to take care of yourself.
In order to meet the needs of our families, we need healthy bodies, clear minds, and nourished souls.
You will hit the wall one day.
Putting others first is noble and acceptable much of the time, but it can’t be all the time. If you constantly prioritize caring for others over your own health and wellness, you will eventually hit the wall. For some women, it’s in a matter of months after bringing the first baby home. For others, it’s a slow build-up that finally erupts in a midlife crisis of discontentment. Moms are rarely at their physical, emotional, or spiritual best when this happens and no one benefits. Try these two steps to sanity to avoid the collision in your life.
It’s not just self-preservation, it’s teaching.
Do you want your children to know how to lead balanced lives and take care of themselves? Do you want them to take time to invest in their own spiritual growth, to cultivate meaningful relationships, and to take care of their bodies? Then you must model it for them. Children learn far more about how to “do life” from watching us do it ourselves than from anything we say.
Moderation is the key.
Can a mom go too far in the “taking care of myself because it’s important” mindset? Absolutely. I’ve watched moms keep their children in childcare almost full-time while they worked out with a personal trainer, got a massage, had their hair cut and highlighted, lunched with girlfriends, and shopped until it was time for their husbands to get home. Self-care can creep into self-centeredness and indulgence. But some quiet time to pray and an hour in there somewhere to exercise and de-stress are not too much to ask. Neither is an occasional coffee or lunch date with a friend. All things in moderation.
Balanced moms are nicer people.
Moms who are physically and emotionally healthy are more positive, more patient, and kinder. Aren’t those personality traits you’d like to exhibit with your family? Trust us, when your husband and kids find out which activity—whether it’s your bible study group or a 5-mile run—turns you into “nice mommy,” they’ll push you out the door to do it! If you’re not sure where you’ll fit it into your day, try one of these strategies for finding some downtime.
Moms who are physically and emotionally healthy are more positive, more patient, and kinder.
Tell us! What do you like to do to take care of yourself?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.