You’ve heard me say “putting yourself first” many times, and I guess for many of us this idea is pretty obvious and maybe even trivial, but every single time I speak with a mother who is raising a young family there are so many obstacles in the way of taking care of herself and taking care of everyone else.
Today I want to share with you some of my own examples of how I take care of myself and why it matters to the bigger picture of what I’m creating in my life, my family and my marriage.
So let’s dive in.
First, putting yourself first is not selfish! Stop saying and thinking this!
It is not true!
What’s selfish is believing you are a superwoman and plowing through, tired, exhausted, unmotivated, uninspired, not feeling sexy and vital in your life and then expect to be loved, desired and appreciated by everyone else. Let me be the one popping this bubble for you, you can never get that which you cannot give. First, you have to give yourself the nurturing, self-love, appreciation, and feel magnetic before anyone even notices. This matters because as someone who wants to create a beautiful home, raise strong, resilient, self-reliant, independent children, feel truly connected to your partner and live your life with meaning and purpose you have to have the mindset of this is an inside job, and as a master manifestor you have the power to do that. It is pretty magical once you dive deeper into that.
When you are putting yourself first you make it a priority to feed your mind and your body with nourishing thoughts, ideas, and food. It all starts with identifying what are those things that fill you up so much and turning them into non-negotiables. No matter what you make sure it happens. So, for example, this could look like making your gym or exercise time a priority and canceling things to get it into your schedule or cancel a night out just to get some much-needed sleep so you wake up refreshed and rejuvenated the next day. Or deciding not to take any technology into your bedroom because you know what will happen if you do – you will most likely find yourself scrolling mindlessly through social media, looking at other’s people’s stuff and feeling more and more depleted, resentful and small.
In my work with women, I talk a lot about the process of adulting and maturity and stepping into your life as a creator instead of a victim and be proactive with regards to what it is that you want to create and build in your life, your vision and your values and being laser focused on them. Playing small is not an option, especially not if you are a listener of this podcast!
I have been playing small most of my life, and at this point, I am done.
I have seen way too many people and women in my family and community who’ve sacrificed themselves so much that it brought them into an SOS state of literal sickness and even passing. This is not a joke and I want you to look around you and see if there are any good examples around you of women who put themselves first unapologetically because they believe that they deserve it, they are worth it and they know that everything starts with them feeling content and alive in their bodies and being.
In my own mommy life putting myself first is actually a new concept I am practicing as well as only a few months ago I would be completely unaware of the fact that I serve my kids the best food possible but for me, I end up eating their scraps or even worse, skip meals altogether. No more! I ain’t doing that no more! For example, last week I had an incident where there was just one avocado left in the kitchen and in our house avocado is a pretty staple breakfast. So there I was cutting this avocado for my kids and about to spread it on their toasts (each one eats two small toasts) suddenly realized that if I cut it for them I am not going to have any avocado left for me! And I love avocado, not only do I love the taste of it, I actually know how it affects my body and hormones, and so I made a conscious decision and cut off half for the kids, and the other one for me. Honestly, they didn’t even notice because their other toast was with tuna, but for me, it was an important point to make because I matter. I deserve to eat good food too. And I am going to make that extra effort for myself. I think that if we get into the habit of routinely showing our girls how to prioritize ourselves, they will eventually learn through the process of modeling to do the same for themselves. Again, this is not about selfishness and viewing yourself as the center of the universe, you guys know that I am anything but that!! This is about honoring yourself so much that you are aware of these little things that start out as small energy leaks, and end up to be enormous mountains of depletion, exhaustion and years long of self-neglect.
Here’s another example, I haven’t shared this with you yet, but exactly a month ago my little baby had a massive hip surgery done on her hip and since then she’s healing with a full body cast wrapped around her lower torso and left leg. As you may know, I work from home, but even though I’m home, I’m working. I do coaching calls, create content, develop programs, etc, basically things that are impossible to do with a full-time dependent child at home. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of her as she’s going through this, this is exactly why I’ve designed my business around my family’s schedule so that I can be present with them as well as do the work that fills me up on an intellectual and professional level.
But, I knew it is going to be tough and so in an attempt of practicing what I preach, I’ve decided to put myself first and state what it is that I actually need to make this work. I didn’t pretend like I can do everything and be everywhere despite knowing that I can’t. I am well aware that my energy reserves are very limited at the moment and I don’t have the time or will to do more than I can.
First thing I’ve done was to ask for help – my mom and mother in law looked after our older two girls for two whole weeks so we could be fully present with our daughter as she’s recovering. Yes, I felt like my family is breaking apart and yes the girls kept asking when they’re allowed to get back home, but since we were literally back to infanthood and sleepless nights all over again we knew it would be a disaster if they stayed home with us. So in an effort to help everyone to stay as sane as possible, we decided to divide and conquer. I know this is not possible for everyone, and I am so grateful for having a family we can lean on, but if you don’t have that maybe it’s a good idea to start working on your circle of friends and community members you can trust and lean on in times of need. This obviously takes intention and time to come to life, but is so worth it!
Second, I did not reject an offer by my friend to create a meal train for my family, and so I was completely blown away by the responsiveness and attention we’ve received from other women and mothers in our community. We’ve had fresh delicious meals delivered to our door daily for four weeks! Not only did I not have to cook, I also didn’t really have to do shopping as that was also taken care of.
The last thing I just recently did was to take a break from this entire scene and just replenish and restore myself. I’m actually recording this a day on the day I came back from this getaway and feeling so full and ready to keep going more. A year ago I would never be able to book myself in a hotel alone, and just disappear. The feelings of guilt, nerve, the chutzpah the entitlement were so overwhelming that I wasn’t able to do it.
Now, I’ve decided that it was a matter of life or death, well not really but you know what I mean. It was that important for me. I actually wanted my girls to see that I do this and also to experience me after. So I’ve booked myself in a hotel for two nights, where I could catch up with work, sleep, shower, sit on the sun by myself and watch stupid shown on Netflix. All of this without being on anyone’s schedule, without anyone needing me, or touching me, or needing me to feed them and then get into an argument as to why what I’ve made wasn’t eaten. I wanted to go back to my old self like I used to be in high school and university – carefree, responsibility-free and on my own terms. This was such a freeing exercise for me, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this. Motherhood does take some of that juice out of us, and so it is important to remember to replenish yourself and fill yourself up.
I want my girls to see me doing this, otherwise, they too will fall into the trap of martyrdom and putting themselves last as though they are leftovers.
You are not a leftover.
You are not a sideline.
You are a human being. You are a woman. A mother. And you deserve to feel good and feel alive.
What are some other reasons for putting yourself first?
- Nothing is really an emergency and can wait – research shows that a clogged and overwhelmed mind actually take longer to execute on tasks, whether it is at work or taking care of your house and kids. When your head is rested and clear you are able to do the laundry, feed the kids, take them to a dance class, grab groceries on the way home, remember to call that friend on the way, and even enjoy a great intimacy with your partner after putting everyone to bed. Yes, it is possible. It might not be sustainable, and it is not going to happen every day, but if you take the time and make yourself a priority you will actually be better at anything you want to accomplish in your life.
- Your health depends on it – Are you familiar with the ‘sick on vacation’ phenomenon? You know that one, you get sick the moment you get to the resort or your vacation destination. Why does this happen? Because you’ve been pushing yourself so hard, killing your adrenals and pumping more and more cortisol into your bloodstream (which gives you the illusion you are invincible. But the moment you relax and breathe you get sick. Why because your body needs a freaking break!
- You will have a better sex life – so many women I work with complain that they have a low libido but here’s the thing we have to understand and this is a quote by the wonderful Esther Perel “there is nothing that stands in the way more to a woman’s desire than the sense of caretaking. If I have to think about everybody else I can’t think about me. If I can’t think of me I cannot have any access to my sexual desire”. So as a woman if you are constantly in service to others and neglecting yourself and your deepest needs and cravings you are depriving yourself of uncovering the greatest pleasure that exists and that it the pathway to your sexual self. Here’s another great quote by the lovely Esther Perel “if the only role you play is of a mother, then there is no room for sexuality to reemerge because the sexuality doesn’t emerge in the space of mother, it exists in the space of woman and lover.” BAMM!! This is so freaking true!! Yes we are mothers, yes we are caretakers, but we are also women and human beings with sexual desires and needs, and as long as we keep playing these roles, there is no space for that which your husband or partner wishes to have with you. So give yourself the permission to step out once in a while and just be a woman. Not a wife, not a mother. Just be you. By the way, if you’ve never heard of Esther Perel, she is the author of two great books on sexuality and relationships and I will link up to both of them in the show notes so make sure to check that out.
- Your kids will benefit from this as well – if you think your kids don’t notice when you are depleted, unfocused or mentally distracted you are fooling yourself. Children, more than adults have the capacity to not only read you but also feel your energy. They might not have the vocabulary to express what they feel, but they do know when things are not ok. They do know when you are not your best, and I’m sure you want to give them your very best. So give yourself and them permission to be apart for a little while so that you can truly give that which they need.
- You will feel more alive and playful – When you put yourself first, you allow yourself to step into your role as an important and active member of the world. As someone who chooses to use her time, energy and resources wisely and purposefully for the betterment of everyone at stake. I’ve once heard a quote by Naveen Jain who said “how do you measure your success? Your success is measured by how many lives you’ve made better. If you live your life without purpose and you are not using your gifts and talents in the best possible and resourceful manner, you are essentially a parasite in the world. All you do is take take take, without ever giving back”. I loved this quote so much, and I couldn’t agree more. So many of my clients are young mothers who still haven’t figured themselves out professionally, which is totally ok as long as you are committed to your personal growth and development. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than going through life knowing that there is a song inside of you which you never dare to sing. Please, please, please sing this song. The world needs to hear it.
So your action task for today would be to ask yourself, what do you need?
Is it a bath, a shower, a get-away, a massage, a night out with your girlfriends, get your nails done, wax your mustache, an orgasm, good food?
What is it that lights you up?
As always you are welcome to share it with me, or the other moms inside of our closed FB group Busy Moms Get Healthy, I’ve created this space for you.
If anything I’ve covered on today’s episode touched you, don’t allow it to dissipate. Momentum and excitement are rare occurrences, especially in the life of a busy mama like you and me. So I’m inviting you to reach out to me, let’s hop on the phone for a quick chat and see if we are a right fit for each other, if I’m the right coach for you or not. If I’m not the right person for you I am always open to referring you to the right people, so keep that in mind because I only work with women who are in alignment with my values and mission. So you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention episode 57.
Until next time, I’m sending you much love and healing!
Books by Esther Perel: