I saw an article titled “Your Kids Should Not be Most the Important in the Family” and it made me feel lots of things. Defensive, angry, upset but I also agreed with the statement.
Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. I’ve tried to follow a few cheat sheets - attachment parenting, conscious parenting, the Montessori approach… No matter how hard I tried, how hard I researched, I never felt like I was the best mum I could be. I just needed to try harder. Right?
Mums are out there trying to help our children flourish, we are absolutely trying to do our best! We often put our kids needs before our own. We love our children, we want the best for our children and by focusing on their needs we believe that is how we achieve this. And somehow along the way we lose sight of ourselves… We have babies who need us to take care of all their basic needs, we are on high alert from the moment they enter the world. When those tiny babies become toddlers and children, our brains are still wired to respond to them in that same way, to protect them and to keep them safe. Our brain is so used to protecting our children, we lose sight of our needs and we forget how important we are.
I don’t want to tell you how to parent, like the man writing this article. I also don't want to remind you of the terrible outcomes that parenting “the wrong way” will have on your kids. Our own brains do that enough already, thank you very much.
I want to gently tap you on the shoulder and say “It’s OK, your kids are going to be fine, you are the perfect mother for them”.
I want to tell you “you are doing your best and that’s all any of us can do, but in order to be your best, you need to look after you too”.
A great quote that I heard recently is “The best gift you have to give your children is your own happiness”. I’d like you to take a moment to imagine what you can give your children if you were happy and fulfilled and if you came from a place of loving yourself. You would have more energy, more love and more to give.
It took me while to realise how powerful our own mental and physical wellbeing is in being the mum I want to be. For the first few years of motherhood, I wasn’t looking after myself, physically or emotionally.
These days I experience a lot less guilt. I ask myself what I want. I seek out joy. I have stopped worrying about what I can’t control. Because the truth is we can’t control our kids, we can only control how we act towards them, and they get to decide how to interpret that.
If you feel like you want to start treading that path to self care, it’s not too late, it’s never too late. You can start by simply asking yourself some questions. What do you want in life? Allow yourself to dream. How can you find more joy in life? Allow yourself to find it and experience it. How can you take better care of you? And take action to make that happen. All of this together will enable you to be the best mum that you can be.
If you want your children to sleep next to you, if you want to eat hot chips in front of the television for dinner, or offer your kids extracurricular activities every single day – do it, just make sure you like your reasons. There is NO rule book! That’s a wonderful thing, but it’s also daunting. I believe that if you make your parenting decisions from a place of love (including love for yourself), you can be confident that you are being the best mum you can be.
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