The journey into motherhood is epic and never-ending. It is equally one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, as well as possibly the hardest. It’s so hard to fathom just how your life will change once you have your child and when I became a mother I felt like I had changed completely and fundamentally within an instant. This was something new entirely and I needed to learn a new way to be.
One thing that soon becomes obvious when you are a mum, is just how many different roles you need to fill, and how tricky that can be. Life is no longer the same, and there is now a new being that needs your attention… all the time. But there are still other important people in your life that would like some of your love too. It can feel like such a juggle to embody more than one role at the same time, so you can respond to everybody calling on you at that very moment. And sometimes as part of that juggle you yourself can get a bit lost. I know that for me, for a couple of years there, I forgot that I should also be a priority to me and that I needed to take care of myself.
You see, when you become a mum, your whole paradigm shifts. You are now the number one fierce protector of a little innocent life, and once you step into that kind of energy it can be pretty hard to let anything else in, because nothing else can seem as important, at least this is how it felt for me.
It took me a couple of years and a couple of kids to learn that I actually had to take care of myself too, not only for my own happiness but for the happiness of everyone around me. Because I was un-balanced. I had poured myself so completely into my role as caregiver for everybody else, I had forgotten that I was important, and that I needed to take care of myself too. I deserved and was desperately in need of some of my own special attention.
It can be tricky to remember who you are if you’ve been living out of balance for some time, I know it was really tricky for me. And of course, I had also changed fundamentally when I became a mum, so who exactly was I now?
The answer to who you are and what is balance is different for everyone. It takes some trial and error, and some searching, to find out these answers. Being aware of the need to love and take care of yourself is an excellent start, and is something that took me quite a while to figure out.
One thing I know for sure is that I am better when I make the time to take care of myself. It’s not always easy finding space to take care of yourself and sometimes it seems fitting in my self care makes the day feel more of a juggle. Over time I have found the things that work for me. And with these things I try and keep a balance.
Yoga helps me tremendously, but too many yoga sessions in a week just makes me feel rushed – better to have a couple of quality sessions than to feel like I am always rushing to get to the studio.
Washing my face and feet every night before bed is such a simple and wonderful thing. How did I ever not just take those 5 minutes each night to take a little care of myself?
And at times when I am feeling a bit stuck, then getting up half an hour before everyone else to have a quiet moment in the morning to look at my diary for the week or do a little writing about things that I, myself, would like to achieve usually makes my day feel completely different. Try just pausing for a moment to notice something that you would otherwise rush straight past. Just take a second to feel the sun on your face and catch a glimpse of the beauty in your surrounds. Building moments of mindfulness into my every day is so important for my sense of self.
One of the best lessons my daughter learnt in her first year of school was the concept of filling people’s buckets. Over everyone’s head is an invisible bucket, and when you do something nice for another person it fills their bucket a little bit. When you do something mean it takes something out of their bucket. And each day we should aim to put more in people’s buckets than we take away. It was such a simple and powerful concept that it has stuck with us and we often still question ‘does that fill my bucket?’. I would like you today to think about each thing you are doing and ask yourself, does that fill my bucket? Because when our own bucket is full, it is so much easier to fill other’s buckets too.
Jada Pinkett Smith answers the question of ‘How hard is it to be a wife and a mother?’ so eloquently that I would love to share her answer with you. Her response gets to the heart of why it is so important to remember to take care of ourselves each and every day as a priority. I hope that one day when my own daughter asks me this question that I can give her such a great response. And hopefully the way I am living now will teach her to not only take care of others, but to take care of herself too.
I hope that no matter who you are, whether you are a parent or not, that you can all find a little time today to just take care of yourself. I’d love to hear the ways that you do.