Hey sweet, beautiful moms, this one is for you.
The greatest gift you can give to your children is to heal, love and nourish yourself.
I want to share the number one reason why you should take care of yourselves: Your child is watching you.
Well, we all know our kids are watching us. They follow us into the bathroom, tug on our shirts, jump on us as a friendly wake up call, and demand to be fed 24/7. As they get older, they call us, ask for help with home projects and cry to us when life gets tough. The bond between parent and child is forever. They are always watching us, and this begins as a child.
They learn minute details about how to live their lives…. From watching us.
What I mean is that their little brains are processing the information in their lives as facts. They are creating subconscious patterns of awareness that will guide them throughout their lives. As they grow older, they will understand how to deal with difficult situations by referencing their past, even subconsciously. As a psychotherapist, I have seen the way that this plays out with my dear clients. They struggle with self-care and valuing their needs because it was never taught to them. And while we cannot safe guard our kids from everything, and they will experience hardship, learn some unhealthy coping, or struggle with anxiety or depression, we can try to protect them with solid skills that they can take with them no matter what occurs. These are the skills that we can model that will help get them out of the muck, when they are inevitably going to be in it.
We can teach them how to deal with the hardships in life with self-care and good coping skills.
Be the kind of person you want your child to be. Practice self-care and care about your mood, not only for yourself, but for your child. We are not perfect, nor should we strive for perfection, but with awareness, we teach our kids how to deal with life. Do not strive to be perfect, which is unattainable…. strive to be aware. Aware of our growth points. Because even if our kids learn unhealthy coping, it’s never too late to model how to move beyond it and grow.
You see, children learn by watching. Little sponges, they absorb everything from their environment and they create both conscious and unconscious beliefs about life and what it should look like, largely from us, their parents. They take cues from us on how to treat other people (neighbors, family, waiters, friends), how to be happy, have fun, take risks, and how to treat ourselves.
Throughout my decade as a therapist, I’ve seen and heard firsthand the many ways that parents have made an impact in their lives. And really, it’s largely good! We are molding them, helping them draw on strengths and doing the best damn job we can. We ought not get down on ourselves for our shortcomings (common). Rather, let’s be more aware of them and work to overcome them with self-love, compassion and self-care. No, it is not selfish or egotistical to take care of yourself or to like yourself. It’s how we are meant to be. When we feel good, we can help others feel good. Can’t water your garden from an empty bucket. Fill er’up, mamas.
What I’ve found that many parents struggle with, is taking good care of themselves and modeling it to their children. Coping with stress with healthy self-care techniques (or seeking therapy for help with this), apologizing (and then letting it go), exercising, eating well, the list goes on. We often stuff our emotions, struggle to model resolution of anger, or mindless-ly engage in our lives.
Taking care of ourselves and modeling self care is not easy. It’s a challenge and one that requires awareness and constant revision. It’s important to realize that it’s a journey, not a destination. But when we practice a positive coping technique, it becomes easier to make it a habit. Even if you move in and out of coping, we still have the experience of it. We can “un-practice” it, but it’s still a part of our consciousness. We can get back to it with effort, support and desire.
Giving to ourselves and receiving love isn’t as simple as it sounds. It’s easy to slip into a constant state of giving to others and forget that our needs are important, too. Giving is in our genes. It’s a part of who we are. As mama, the moment we conceive, we begin giving of ourselves. It’s no longer about us when that little person starts to grow. Literally and figuratively. The baby gets all the nourishment first (and that continues – goldfish for lunch anyone?), we house a baby in our body and then feed him and her. Forever. The greatest joy. The greatest love. I had no idea how huge it was. With that love comes so much giving.
And often, we forget what is means to receive.
And when we forget what it means to receive, we get depleted.
And when we get depleted, we often go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong, or sink into bed with our wine, or cry, or eat, or (fill in the blank). But the part that we fail to look at and consider is: are we are depleted because we are constantly giving?
Constantly giving and not receiving.
Life is about give and take. Relationships are too. And we take the love that is bestowed to us from our children. And it’s magical and wonderful. But just like we need that love, we also need something else right along with it. We need the love of ourselves. We need to give that love to ourselves and feel it. And be thankful for ourselves. And take time to nourish ourselves.
Move beyond guilt.
If you’ve ever actually taken the time to give to yourself, perhaps you’ve felt guilty. I have. It’s something that I continually work through. And that’s just it. If guilt creeps up, simply acknowledge it, and release it. Knowing and reminding yourself that self-care is crucial for your own well being and to model it to your child. (…and it’s never too late to model good self care. I’m talking to you, Grandma. Our children are ALWAYS our children. Always learning from us). As self-aware, progressive moms, we are constantly on a journey of self-discovery, growth and healing.
May we show our children what it means to live joyfully, peacefully, with ease. Because if we show that to our children, it means we are living it for ourselves. And what a happier world it will be.
So go ahead moms,
o Eat the cake
o Celebrate your birthday
o Call the therapist
o Smile more
o Take risks
o Speak up
o Share your opinion
o Release judgment
o Have fun
o Put on the bathing suit
o Get in the pool
o Be silly
o Make mistakes
o Learn from them
o Forgive others
o Forgive yourself
o Reconnect to your child self
o Take quiet time by yourself
Let your light shine. Take care of yourself and model what it means to overcome pain, heartache, grief, anxiety, depression. Take time to heal yourself: a gift for the entire family.
With love, gratitude, and both a giving and receiving heart,
**If you would like to attend one of Meghan's upcoming mom retreats or get on her coaching waiting list, email Meghan@MergeintoHealth.com