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  • Self Care Solution – ‘If I were you’

    This is an article I recently wrote for the Mpower Community and I wanted to share this with you:

    “If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.” 

    This example of the ‘oxygen mask’ is often bandied around when encouraging women to think of themselves (I’ve used it myself once or twice!) But it recently occurred to me that it’s not the best analogy to use when talking about self-care. Being in a life and death situation and doing the right thing to give your child and yourself the best chance of survival is a far cry from the lack of self care that I see most mums adopting on a day to day basis.

    Let’s face it on a day-to-day basis we are not making dramatic choices, we are making choices based on ease or expedition.

    • How can I get the kids to school on time? I’ll skip breakfast.
    • How can I get these emails done today? I’ll stay up till midnight on my laptop.

    You get the gist.

    These are not big decisions they are tiny concessions, which taken on their own, do not add up to much.

    However as Jeff Olson explains in his book The Slight Edge, it’s the repetition of the minutia that makes the difference. Choosing pizza instead of salad on one occasion, will not affect your waistline, but choosing pizza every day will affect your waistline and your health.

    So how can we learn to put ourselves first more often?

    I have realised the answer to self-care is self–love, but self-love is a tricky one! Self-acceptance and self-worth are some of the most elusive qualities of the human race. We may enter the world blissfully unaware of our perfection, but it’s not long before our supposed shortcomings are pointed out to us.

    • It could be another child in the playground ‘You have a big nose’
    • It could be a teacher covering a page in your exercise book with red pen.
    • Being dumped by your first love.
    • Being turned down for promotion.
    • Seeing size 0 models in every magazine.

    Whatever your life experience, it is unlikely that you have come this far with your self-worth completely in tact and this is why we struggle with self-care.

    Luckily there is a simple solution that I have devised specifically for Mums called ‘If I were you’ (I know this sounds like the beginning of a reprimand, but bear with me)

    We all have a child or children that we love, more than life itself. And whether or not they misbehave or push our buttons, we still want the best for them…always. We want them to eat healthily, get enough sleep, to be confident, to be wise, to be kind, to be loved, to experience life in all it’s wonder and so much more.

    In order to embrace our own self-care each time you’re about to make an unloving decision for yourself e.g. Not having a healthy lunch or trying to fit too much into your day, imagine instead it is your child grabbing a Red Bull and a packet of Doritos or charging around looking stressed! As a parent we wouldn’t stand by and watch this destructive behaviour, we would sit them down with a nutritious meal, a glass of water and help them to take a breather and work out a plan.

    Playing ‘If I were you’ allows you to step outside yourself and see your habits and lifestyle objectively and by asking yourself ‘Would I love my child this way?’ you can embrace more nurturing routines.

    I know there will be people reading this who are thinking “I simply don’t have the time for self-care’

    Again, I would encourage you to imagine your son or daughter in their 20’s coming to you looking shattered and run down. You would not just stand by and let them self-destruct; you would find a solution to help them out. You would take the time because their well-being is worth any amount time and energy required.

    This is the action and care you need to demand of yourself because you are worth as much love as your child is.

    A final point to drive my message home; your children will learn from your behaviour far more than your words. How you treat yourself will become their blueprint to life. So show them how much you value your own life by

    • caring for yourself,
    • looking after yourself,
    • enjoying yourself and
    • celebrating how wonderful you are

    They will follow your lead and you will inadvertently give them one of the greatest gifts in life…a feeling of self-worth.

    Emily xx

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    Self care