written by: Homa HoushmandMindfulness Based CBT Psychotherapist
MSc. & Canadian Certified Counsellorwww.positiveperspectives.ca
What’s self-love got to do with it, mama?
Is it just me or are we seeing words like self-love and self-care EVERYWHERE these days?! We know that it’s a thing that we’re supposed to do but who, what, when, where and WHY are we supposed to do it? And why is it so damn important especially for mothers?! Consider this your self-love 101 tutorial. Yes, at some point I may suggest that a nice quiet candlelit bath is a perfectly acceptable form of self-care, but I promise you I’m going to get a lot more real than that. Intrigued? Excellent.
First of all, when we talk about self-love I think it’s equally important to talk about self-care. I truly believe they go hand in hand and I pretty much use them interchangeably. They are both rooted in appreciation, respect, nurturing and honoring of oneself. And none of these things are possible without knowing and listening to yourself.
Think about the amount of time and attention you put into knowing and understanding your little kiddos personalities so that you can best meet their needs. As soon as you think you’ve got them all figured out, their needs and demands change and evolve yet again! AGH! Well, I hate to break it to you but adults are not too far off with their fleeting and finicky needs. The only difference is that we have the ability to self reflect, assess and communicate these needs whether it's to family and friends or to ourselves.
Have you ever heard of that quote “You can’t pour of an empty cup?” I know, it’s annoying. I think it’s annoying because it's true. Our physical, mental and emotional needs change daily and some days even hourly…depending on just how terrible those two’s are that day. If we don’t regularly take a moment to assess ourselves head to toe and inside out we run the risk of energetically and emotionally depleting ourselves without even realizing it. Not only is that damaging but you can bet your ass we’re not being the best moms we can be. Rather we’re giving our family and OURSELVES the bare minimum of what we’ve got left.
That doesn’t sound fun for anyone.
A few weeks ago I asked all the parents on my Instagram to tell me what Self-Love meant to them. The feedback was incredible and there were a lot of very clear themes that popped up. I took this data and created a list of simple and sustainable ways to build self-love and self-care into your daily routine from the inside out:
1. Making self-love a habit. Who doesn’t have their phones on them ALL. THE. TIME. these days, am I right? One of the easiest ways to get into a habit of checking in with yourself and your needs is to literally set a daily reminder. This can be a reminder on your phone, a post it in a high traffic area of your home or built into any other routine at home or work. I encourage you to personalize this in whichever way feels most meaningful to you. For example, write down a quote or a mantra that motivates you or a simple question like “what do I need in this moment?”
2. Me time. I had a staggering amount of responses from mamas on social media who said that the most important act of self-love to them meant having “guilt-free” time to themselves. There’s a lot of misconceptions that “self-care is selfish”. No. Just no. Taking time to rejuvenate is not only an act of kindness to yourself but it also has a ripple effect on everyone around you. If you feel good, then you are creating space for people (especially the little people) around you, to feel good too. If you feel rested and restored then your “cup” will be abundantly full and you will be better equipped during those particularly demanding times as a parent.
3. Self-compassion. This is KEY. You are human and messing up is part of that human experience. It’s what makes us human! Shall I say it one more time? YOU’RE HUMAN. There will be times that you will raise your voice, get angry with the kids, cry out of frustration, not get all the laundry done and hide in the closet while you eat your ice cream so you don’t have to share with anyone. It’s ok. The goal is not to be a “perfect” parent (that’s not even a thing). It is to be kind and compassionate and most importantly none judgmental with yourself in those difficult moments. Chances are you were already feeling stressed and tired so why add that extra layer of suffering from judgment and guilt? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
4. Permission - this dovetails on the last note as it is crucial to give yourselves permission to take care and love yourself. If you resist the importance of self-love then the suffering you are experiencing without it will persist. Permission might look like asking for help with you need it so that you have the time and space to focus on yourself. Permission might be intentionally choosing to spend the evening with your partner or catching up on your favorite TV show after the kids go to bed instead of doing the dishes. Permission might going to bed early even if there is still a lot of other chores that need to get done. Permission might be ordering dinner in one might because you simply do not have the energy to cook anything from scratch.
5. Mom-shaming. I want you to stop and think about the way you talk to yourself for a second. Are you particularly hard on yourself when you don’t every single thing done on your checklist? Is your inner credit super negative and rude? In my experience with women, I’ve talked to the answer is usually yes. The next question is “Would you talk to a friend or another mother that way?” Would you harshly criticize their inability to meet the unrealistic standards that she set for herself? My guess is no. If you bullied a friend the way you bullied yourself you probably wouldn’t have any friends left! So stop mom shaming yourself and start talking to yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would show a fellow parent.
6. .......So yes, have that candlelit bath, glass of wine, a piece of cake, bath bomb. Do it all because you are a rock start warrior Mamma who deserves to feel amazing. Just make sure you're asking yourself honestly and deeply what you need and ask yourself often. Give yourself space and permission to practice self-love and self-care and don’t forget to do do it with kindness and compassion.