Why Your Child's Health Starts With You
As mothers, we are often able to do for our children what we cannot do for ourselves. No matter how many times you feel you may have “failed” in the past, mother's have an incredible, God-given strength when it comes to our children.
In the midst of all of life’s demands, we make it a point to take care of our children and their health. We get them to their doctor’s appointments, make sure they brush their teeth and worry if they’re eating enough vegetables. We scour parenting books, blogs and research to stay on top of the latest and greatest. But what if in the process of caring for our own children, we’ve neglected to take care for ourselves?
Prioritizing Self-Care in Motherhood
Learning to care for yourself in the trenches of motherhood is a complex thing. Afterall, there are tiny humans who rely on you completely. So it’s easy to let your own needs go to the wayside.
Mama - you are doing such a great job nurturing your children. Why is it difficult to give this same level of care and attention to yourself?
For most women, it’s counter-intuitive to put self-care in front of the needs of loved ones, including children and spouses. Generally speaking, mothers are nurturers and givers, but this easily can become a situation where mom’s own needs become neglected.
While it might seem like this is just how things are and that there is little that can be done to change this, this is simply not the case. A mother who doesn’t prioritize her own health and wellness risks damaging not only her own well-being but the longevity of her own children and family.
Mama - you are the gasoline that keeps the car (or minivan) running. If you’re not taking care of your vehicle, everyone riding inside is going to suffer when it has a breakdown. Don’t let yourself get to the point of a breakdown. You can do everything possible to keep your children healthy and thriving, but if taking care of yourself is not part of the equation, your efforts are nulled.
In an effort to offer your best to your children, it is important to make taking care of yourself a priority. While self-care is an overused, trendy phrase, in my opinion, I think it’s important to reframe the ways you can care for yourself in a busy season of motherhood.
What are life-giving activities that fill you up and bring you joy? What are ways that you can replenish yourself during a time where you are constantly pouring yourself out for others?
Here are some ideas:
Learn how to say no
Take an honest look at your schedule. What is filling your time that causes you to feel burned out or drained? What is on your calendar that doesn’t bring you joy? Do yourself a favor and find a way to remove it. Your time is too precious to say yes to everything. Choose activities that help you thrive and learn to say no to things that don’t.
You deserve to eat too
For many moms, mealtime becomes eating whatever leftovers are available on your kids' plates while you simultaneously pick up the house and answer emails. Mama - if you are not nourishing your body well, your health will suffer. Your kids will be better eaters and understand the importance of taking time to feed themselves if they observe you doing it for yourself. Schedule a pause in your day to sit down at the table with your kids, eat your food, and enjoy the opportunity to feed your body well.
Move your body in a way that feels good
For many women, exercise doesn’t “count” for anything unless it involves burning a certain amount of calories - but where is the joy in that? You should choose activities and movement that you enjoy and don’t dread doing. This can be anything from gardening to playing tag with your kids in the park to wearing your baby and taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Activity should serve your body, not feel punishing or burdening.
Put yourself on the schedule
You schedule out important appointments for your kids and make time in your calendar for things that need to get done. Why not do the same for yourself? It’s easy to feel guilty for taking time away from your family for things you enjoy, but ultimately, you will come back feeling refreshed. Make some time for things that you enjoy, even if it’s only for a couple of hours every month. You deserve it, mama.
Quit the Diet, for good
Women who continue to chronically diet will often have a chaotic relationship with food, struggle with body image, or even battle eating disorders. But that’s not even the worst part. Mamas, if we don’t put a stop to the cycle, dieting can become a generational problem, passing on problematic eating behaviors to our children. Cultivate a positive understanding of health and what it means to care for and nourish your body and your children...diets not included.
Helping your children grow into healthy, contributing individuals will naturally come when your own wellbeing is made a priority. Does this have to be perfect to be meaningful? The motherhood journey is never about perfection but rather, learning in the process and giving yourself grace upon grace along the way.