A friend reminded me the other day that it’s ok to be selfish sometimes. They suggested that perhaps I was neglecting myself, sacrificing my own well being for the sake of my daughter’s. And I admit that it is true. Every single day I neglect my own needs to do the very best for my daughter. It doesn’t make me a saint, it just makes me a mother. We all do it.
It got me thinking about whether it is ok to put your own needs first occasionally and whether that’s possible without feeling that “mum guilt”.
I constantly feeling guilty. I feel guilty if I try and find time in the day to cook myself a meal. I feel guilty if I don’t take her out somewhere, every day, which fulfils some sort of developmental, sensory or social need. I feel guilty if I leave her with a baby sitter so I can have some sort of life away from her.
But my friend is right and I think this week, after two weeks of utter parenting hell (due to us both suffering from a virus and being super poorly), I’ve had an epiphany. I need to learn to put myself first occasionally and look after myself. It doesn’t make me a bad mum. It makes me a mum that recognises the need to keep myself emotionally and physically healthy. In the longer term that will help me be the best possible mum I can be.
So, I’m learning to be a selfish mother, in the following ways:
1. I will find time in every day to prepare myself a nutritional meal, and find time to eat said meal.
2. I will no longer feel guilty for occasionally asking for a little help or respite. This is not a sign of weakness or failure, it’s just admitting I need a break.
3. I will find time once or twice a week to meditate and spend time on my yoga mat again. That might be 5 minutes or 25 minutes, but I will find the time.
4. I will find time in the week to shave my legs, for the obvious reasons.
5. And finally… If a nice guy asks me out I will put my fears and anxieties of starting something new to one side and go on a damn date. Just because I’m a mum to a small baby doesn’t mean I shouldn’t date. And I certainly shouldn’t be fearful of people judging me for dating again. I’m not ready for the nunnery just yet and don’t intend to waste my thirties behaving like a nun either!
So, there we go, the five step plan to becoming the best mother I can be. All achievable, all reasonable and all just a little bit selfish.