Is taking time out for yourself being selfish or is it an act of self-care/self-love? When you have a lot of other responsibilities and people depending on you, what is acceptable as loving yourself, and what is seen as selfish?
This is something that has personally come up recently and I'm surprised that it has surfaced. So I wanted to write down my thoughts and get your feelings too?
Whether you have young children, are pregnant, have a hectic work life, have family or carer commitments, or whatever it is, how do you find that balance? At what point is taking some time for yourself considered a necessity...or when does it tip over to be seen as a selfish act, that you are putting yourself first. Where do you draw the line?
Personally, I feel our parent's generation was not 'good' at this. When I look at my mom, my god she's a trojan...she rarely stops. She's amazing, phenomenal and at times I'm simply in awe of her! Is this to be admired, are we being soft, or are we actually now starting to do the right thing by putting ourselves higher up on that list of priorities?
There are rare times, but they do exist!(!), that I feel like sticking my middle finger right up there...and being challenged on this has been one of those times. Here's my view, and I'd love to hear yours. I'm a better mother and a happier Helen when I get to put my needs higher up on that list of priorities. When I take dedicated time for me, I genuinely feel bloody awesome. I'm also wildly more productive, be that with the kids, my work, or in the house. But I don't feel like it's a luxury, I feel like it's a necessity!
Whatever you do for your 'me time' really doesn't matter. I love to balance both my feminine and masculine energies and start my day early with reading, coffee, and meditation, with a few very gentle yoga poses thrown in sometimes, followed by a good sweat in the gym. That's me, what's you? Maybe it's a quiet stroll on your own, a coffee with your friend, walking the dog, taking an exercise class, a swim, a salon appointment, a bop, some quiet time with your book...whatever the hell it is, it doesn't matter, as long as it makes you feel good.
So why does it trigger me? When faced with this challenge, why was I cross? I think because a small part of me still does struggle with it at times, not as much as I used to. But I am getting a whole lot better. Even a year or two ago, I wouldn't have carved out time for myself, due to feelings of guilt...I don't deserve it, I'm not working much (outside of the home), I shouldn't be away from the kids or the house...or whatever negative or self-deprecating thoughts go through your head. But over the past couple of years, I've done a lot of work on myself, through meditation, reading, mindfulness etc, and now I KNOW that I deserve it...most of the time I'm there...very rarely though, the 'mom guilt' does step up.
If you're reading this and you're thinking similar things to me...or not, please do comment below. What work's for you? How do you make self-love a necessity and how does it fit into your daily routine?
Here's how I think it can work successfully...bearing in mind I'm NOT a professional!:
1. Decide what fills you with joy
2. Pick times of the day / days of the week where you could fit in your joy, consistently (to me, consistency is the key)
3. Decide to commit...make it a NON-NEGOTIABLE
4. Talk to your other half / people who rely on you, or whoever you need to, to say this is what you need, and how it can work in your family / working life.
5. If it's met with resistance, try to get to the 'why' and sort out a workable solution.
Honestly, my morning routine, Monday to Friday, feels like a non-negotiable now for my physical and mental well-being. I am downstairs for 6am, and honest to god this quiet time is my saviour. The gym is only a couple of hundred metres from my house and takes 2 minutes to get to, so banging out a sweat from 7-8 am is a god-send.
Women, I think, still need to do more for themselves, more to bring themselves joy. We naturally take more of the load, I think it's culturally ingrained within our DNA. So let's all support each other, help each other out, and raise ourselves up together.
So that's what's been on my mind recently...what do you think? I'm really interested to hear your personal thoughts.
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Helen Plass is a Pregnancy Yoga & Postnatal Yoga Instructor and Fitness Specialist, working with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com.