If you were to poll mums and dads about what they really want for their family – besides an all-inclusive trip to Barbados – I imagine the top answer would be: I just want everyone to be happy.
By everyone, I mean the whole family. I’m sure they don’t care about Boris Johnson’s overall happiness.
For women especially, ‘making everyone happy’ is our modus operandi and our way of life. It’s one reason why we have trouble saying no to our kids and it’s why we end up spending far more than we should at Christmas. We want everyone to be happy.
The problem comes if by ‘everyone’ you actually mean, the rest of the family (and, even, Boris Johnson) and you leave yourself out. ‘I’m happy if they are happy’ you might say. But this simply isn’t true. Because – you can’t make others happy if you don’t give to yourself. Just a little bit. For some of the time.
Looking after a family around the clock is exhausting. This is especially true if one or all of your children have experienced a trauma of some kind or a bad start in life and you are dealing with difficult behaviour as a result. At some point you will have to take a break and give yourself a chance to rebuild energy and patience reserves.
I’m not suggesting that you book yourself into a spa for a week, because I know that you would tell me: it’s impossible. But, even ten minutes of doing something you enjoy or looking after yourself can make a huge difference. You could take time out to do anything that makes you happy – it might be reading a book with your feet up, having a glass of wine, taking the time to meditate, phoning an old friend, going for a walk. Whatever.
It’s time that we stop thinking of ‘filling the well’ as a luxury. It’s vital. After a little bit of ‘you’ time you’ll feel calmer, your cortisol levels will lower and you’ll feel more able to react to the demands of your child (or husband, or employer) calmly and more rationally.
I learned this the hard way, by sheer exhaustion. So, I want you to make a promise to me. By the end of this week, I want you to have made some time for self-care. Even if you have to ask your partner or a friend to take over for a while. Even if you have to schedule it in your diary to force it to happen. Please make looking after yourself a priority, you deserve it.
Now it’s your turn. Let me know in the comments below what you are planning to do to look after yourself this week….