Being a parent is the hardest job any of us will ever do and it’s on the job training only! As all mothers know, we often spend so much time looking after everyone else there is no time for ourselves. And during the first few years of our children’s lives, this to me, is the most important sacrifice you can ever make. But there comes a time when you have to regain some “me” time. Have you ever watched Dr Phil and he says “you have to look after this child’s mother”? Well that’s YOU!!! Finding time again for yourself after having children IS a challenge but it is essential. There are 24 hours in a day, surely you deserve at least 1 of those to yourself? As your children grow, think about the things that you have sacrificed and try to start making time for yourself to enjoy those things again.
Before kids I was quite active and had an extremely healthy lifestyle. After all there was just me to worry about. But when I had children I found my ability to find time to exercise was limited, I was exhausted, and with that came a more unhealthy diet and lifestyle. I decided (after quite a few years) that I was feeling old and just not coping with simple everyday things. I realized that I had lost my former healthy, active self and had become a frustrated and unhappy person. This actually impacted on my relationships with my children and their father and I ended up leaving him because I felt he offered me no support. But this opened my eyes to see that I had given up EVERYTHING that I was, EVERYTHING that I enjoyed, and now I was miserable and feeling like a terrible mother to boot!
So what did I do? Well I started with taking some time out for me. I went to my first yoga class and I realized that I wasn’t old, I realized that I could relax and get back to my former, happier self. I started allowing myself 1 hour a day to do something for myself. I started exercising, most of the time just at home when the kids were with me. I started enjoying healthier foods and drinking more water. Simple things that can easily be incorporated into anyone’s life. And not only did I receive the health benefits I was craving, but I have become the loving, kind, patient, nurturing role model that I always wanted to be when I decided to have children.
Making time for myself has allowed me to be more rational and stable, and when the kids throw me a curve ball I don’t fall in a heap and offer inconsistent solutions. I have a clear head to not only make the right decision, but to actually stick with it, instead of letting the kids nag me until I get upset and give them what they wanted.
So where did I find this hour a day? I started doing non-essential duties (like washing and dishes) once the children were in bed. I would tidy up just once a day instead of running around obsessing over every little thing that was out of place. I make dinner and lunches the night before. I stopped getting up when the kids called out and started telling them to come to me. I started to make the children responsible for their own things. At the age of 4 my eldest daughter was making her bed, folding her pyjamas, tidying her room and making her own breakfast; things I was role-modeling.
But I am role-modeling so much more. I am teaching my children how to control their emotions and outbursts and how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. And I’m not just telling them how they should behave, I am showing them.
You can’t tell someone to respect you when you don’t respect yourself. You’re not just the most important person in their life; you’re the most important person in your own life. Learn to love yourself as much as you love you love them, and give them the best mum in the world…YOU!
Written by Helen La Fontaine
Founder – Top Secret Maternity
Bachelor of Applied Science – Food Science and Nutrition | Master of Public Health