As a mother, it’s easy to put our families needs before our own needs. By definition, compassion refers to one’s sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with the desire to alleviate (Merriam-Webster 2010). It makes perfect sense then why there is a dearth of self- compassion as it in essence is an oxymoron. That said, why is it that us moms can go days on end working to minimize our children’s frustrations, our spouses stressors and even other moms and friends challenges. Yet when it comes to taking care of our emotional and physical selves, we often fall short? This Mother’s Day take care of you. Here are these simple guidelines for implementing some self compassion and gaining a new perspective on motherhood.
Remember when it comes to parenthood…the FAA has it right. Make sure to put your own “oxygen mask” on before putting on other peoples. It is important to take care of yourself so you can be at your best to take care of your child and other loved ones. Just like you schedule play dates and doctors appointments for your kids, schedule weekly self-care activities for yourself. It doesn’t have to be over the top. For some moms sitting for 30 minutes “off duty”, reading the newspaper and having coffee once or twice a week can do the trick.
When stressed out over a situation, ask yourself “How’s that working for me”. If something isn’t working so well, take control and see how, if at all, it can be changed or altered to better meet your needs. This is true of things like your child’s routine, who takes care of what tasks in your home, and how much time you spend nurturing your relationship with your spouse.
Don’t confuse selfishness with self-care. Many moms state that they feel “guilty” if they don’t spend all of their free time with their child. When we choose to label our feelings as “guilt” we often choose to let guilt control us from moving forward or doing something out of our comfort zone. It is not selfish to want to care for yourself as well as your child. It is vital to take time and re-energize ourselves as someone who is more than just “mom”.
It’s not personal!!! Many moms feel a complete loss of control when their child engages in behavior that is hard to manage or deal with. As a way of trying to gain control women have the tendency to beat themselves up rather than have empathy towards themselves. “I’m such a bad mom” or “My child doesn’t like me” are common thoughts that pop into parents heads when their children “misbehave”. PLEASE keep in mind that the majority of this is AGE APPROPRIATE AND ALSO EXTREMELY ANNOYING BEHAVIOR!! Your child is hitting age related developmental milestones. Your job is to set boundaries and limits that work for you and your family to help deal with these changes. Thinking you are “bad parent of the year” will get you nowhere and certainly not change the behavior.
Try living in the presentville instead of living in perfection town. So many moms out there are striving to be “the best”. We spend so much time trying to make things look the way we envision them to be that we forget to take everyday opportunities to appreciate and soak in what is going on in the here and now. Being imperfect is part of the human experience. EVERYONE is-not just you.
THERE IS NO JOB OUT THERE THAT YOU WOULD LOVE 24/7! No job exists that if someone worked it every day, 365 days a year, that they would constantly say it was incredible. Yet, motherhood appears to be the one job that many women feel they cannot complain about. Women somehow believe that if they say that motherhood is hard or that they don’t have all the answers, or even let’s face it—that their kids are being difficult, that the world will somehow think you don’t love them or are grateful to have them. This simply is not true. You can love your children more than anything in the world and also not love being a mom every second of the day.
Self- compassion involves treating yourself the same way that you would treat others when you are having a difficult time, experiencing a failure or become aware of something that you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just thinking “this is not a big deal” or “ I don’t have time to deal with this”, you take the moment to stop and pay attention to your needs (Neff, 2009).
So ladies, while the spa gift card doesn’t hurt, take a moment, stop—and gain some self compassion! It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Happy Mother’s Day!!!