Why Mums Find It So Hard To Put themselves First | Lynne McLean Brown Life Coaching
Putting yourself first sounds quite simple but it hasn’t come so easily since I became a parent. Taking a moment to relax or switch off became that little bit harder once my son came along. I felt like it was my job to put his needs before my own. Adjusting to life as a new parent with a colicky newborn, often left me feeling like I had been through the washing machine on the spin cycle. Even as he got older and I began to find my feet as a mum there wasn’t much time. I learnt to squeeze anything I needed into the small spaces that were left in my day. I believed that was what a good mum was supposed to do, she puts her kids first. The truth is I know that I am not alone here. I find that when I speak to other parents I know that mums find it hard to make themselves a priority. That despite the old saying of putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others that mothers often do the opposite. So often we sacrifice, strive and juggle to our own disadvantage if necessary.
Giving Myself Permission
I remember signing up for a yoga class after my daughter was born. I used to feel guilty about going to class when my husband wasn’t onshore to be with the kids. Even though they were tucked up in bed while I was in class, I felt like it was my job to be available 24/7. It sounds crazy to me now but at the time going to those classes felt like something to feel guilty about. Spending an hour and a half stretching and relaxing with other adults without being interrupted was a luxury I believed I couldn’t afford. I believed that being there for my children meant dropping anything and everything for them. It also meant going without and putting their needs first at all times.
Motherhood = Martyrdom
As Glennon Doyles says in her book Untamed society measures motherhood against martyrdom. We measure a good woman by how much of herself she gives to others. Being caring, supportive, considerate and selfless are the pinnacle of womanhood. How much you give equates to how good you are. This doesn’t leave room for putting yourself first, does it? Mums find it hard to make themselves a priority because that is not what they learn about motherhood. Being a good mother means selflessness and sacrifice.
I burned the memo that defined selflessness as the pinnacle of womanhood, but first I forgave myself for believing that lie for so long. I had abandoned myself out of love.
Doyle, Glennon. Untamed (p. 75). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
As mums, we feel find it so hard to let ourselves have what we want and need. So many of us received the message that to love our children means giving up our own desires. As a result, we feel indulgent for taking time out and guilty for prioritising ourselves. It all feels like uncomfortable because that isn’t the image we have of a good mum in our heads. Yet, I don’t think that being a good parent needs to mean sacrificing ourselves to the point that we disappear.
Putting Yourself First
I still feel like my kids are important but my idea of what I am willing to sacrifice for them is different. I’d give my life up for them but not myself. I now feel like I have a right to my dreams and desires and it is even my duty as a parent to demonstrate this. I want my children to see my thrive so that they see that living and breathing example as they grow up. Sacrificing to the point of living a half-life is not necessary to be a good mum. Sacrificing and selflessness are not the pinnacle of womanhood. I do not need to be a martyr for my children. Instead, I want to be a good model for them. Show them that life is to be lived enjoyed and cherished and hopefully pass that along to them should they become parents themselves.
Originally published at https://www.lynnemcleanbrown.com on June 12, 2020.