As a mother, it is so easy to put the needs of everyone else before your own. It’s almost an unspoken rule, one that we would never dare to dream of breaking. Unfortunately, the reality is that the notion of always being last on your own priority list is extremely unhealthy.
Yes, as mothers, we are responsible for caring for our children. We tend to the basic needs of clothing, sheltering, and feeding them. We also educate them and work to ensure healthy emotional development.
Yes, as wives, many of us have vowed to honor and obey our spouses. We cook, we clean, and we also work to ensure that their emotional and physical needs are met.
Yes, as sisters and friends, we want to be there to support our peers through difficult times, forever offering encouragement and cheerleading.
We have all heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I have to admit it used to be one of my favorites, and I have identified with it on many occasions. Based on my perception, this quote is intended to ease the guilt of wanting to place our own needs first, by reminding us that essentially if we have no more fumes to run on, we won’t be able to help anyone else. So here is my new found dilemma…What if I don’t care about refueling and recharging so that I can serve the needs of others? What if I just want to take care of myself?
I used to feel so guilty for wanting to do things for myself, and I don’t mean luxurious things either. No, I’m not talking about spa days or trips to the salon. I don’t mean dinner and drinks with girlfriends or solo trips to the mall for retail therapy.
I mean guilty for doing things to actually care for myself. That extra five minutes to actually brush my teeth before bed, put Chapstick on my lips, or lotion my entire body when getting out of the shower. I felt selfish for the thought of creating a nighttime routine, wash my face, use a lip scrub, apply a nice face moisturizer.
As I am writing this, I am literally shaking my head. I can’t believe that I spent so much time neglecting myself. What harm would I have been doing to anyone by blocking off that small window of time?
Well, I recently decided that I was tired of waking up with dry skin and chapped lips. I was even more fed up with my feet scratching the comforter as I quickly hopped into bed to put the little ones to sleep. Enough was finally enough, and for the first time in a very long time, I chose myself, and I don’t feel guilty, I feel great!
I created a little nightly routine that only added about 10 minutes of me-time to my already allotted shower time. It is as small as properly washing and moisturizing my face and body. I get into bed feeling more relaxed, and to be totally honest, a little more confident and beautiful. I don’t have to wonder if my husband is staring at my chapped lips or pull my cracked heels away when he brushes his feet against mine.
It was a small step, but a step in the right direction nonetheless. So ladies, let me encourage you to make a small step as well. You may not be ready to carve out a nice window of me-time. Just get started, make an effort to do a little more of what makes you feel good. Running around selflessly serving the wants of everyone around you, while neglecting your basic needs is simply unhealthy. Take care of yourself first mama, everyone else will be just fine. You aren’t saying no, you are simply saying not right now.