I saw a post today emblazoned in the corner with the page logo “happy you, happy family”.
How many of us put ourselves last? Driven to achieve impossible combinations: Work, raise children, commute, get children to sports and jobs, complete family administration, sort finances, cook, clean, wash, iron, find time for our own relationships… the list is endless really. But isn't the family happiest when the parents are happy, relaxed and healthy?
While the reality of men and women’s roles have substantially shifted since the 1950s, the idealisation of what it means to run a successful family are little changed. In part, ‘ideals’ have been handed down through the generations and happy (immaculate) families are still splashed throughout media. These unrealistic expectations mean many are enslaved on the weekends/days off trying to catch up on washing and ironing, food prepping, ferrying children to sport and their social engagements. It is no wonder so many clients are exhausted, sick - smothered by the realisation they have little if any time left over for themselves and their well-being.
Selfish or Essential?
When we understand how important we are, it becomes easier to put ourselves first. Sure, some are going to say this is being selfish but isn’t it more selfish to neglect our own needs, cause ourselves to become ill or have an accident? It is then that we are of no use to others. We cannot help others unless we help ourselves first.
Teaching our children that we also have needs may initially raise challenges, but we are their teachers. Through installing boundaries we model how important it is to prioritise adult well-being so they in turn know will how to respect their adult needs. For younger children this can be having enforced ‘quiet time’ (this happens in early learning centres daily) and older children are not going to be harmed by having to wait.
Balance and Harmony
We love to give to others but no one loves being a servant. And yes, sometimes it seems easier just to do everything ourselves – at least we don’t argue or not meet our standard. But touch in with the inner self. I’m certain if we listen quietly, we will be able to hear the inner self, frustrated, annoyed or simply exhausted by the demands we place on ourselves. Noontil states, ‘Balance and harmony comes from knowing when to do for ourself and when to do for others’.
When we allow a child to make their own bed (imperfectly) we allow them to develop their skills and confidence. When children initially help and then progress to making their own lunches, they learn about nutrition and independence. On the other hand –making or remaking a bed steals increments of time from our day and packing lunches when everyone else is winding down or in bed means they rest but we do not.
It's not Fair!
I'm sure you could join me and give many other examples of how we rob ourselves of vital self-care opportunities. Think how these myriad examples, added throughout the day, quickly grow from minutes to hours. When we ignore balance and harmony, we give our bodies. Be assured our inner self recognises the injustice of our actions and given little alternative but to get our attention through symptoms and becoming ill. So how can we reshape those increments of time and prioritise our well-being?
6 Small Steps
It’s not pampering! - Make your need for relaxation, quiet, connection, exercise… non-negotiable. Decide what is most important to you and then set out to achieve it (much better than random self-care that may miss the mark).
Make an appointment - Find a gap in your day for a mini self-care session. Then mark out your calendar during the next week with an appointment called “self care time”. Stick to them. Be realistic – mini self-care may be simply closing your eyes and breathing deeply for 2 or 3 minutes to relax.
Prioritise - If it isn’t essential, bump it. Sometimes we feel the pressure of unrelenting busy-ness but in reality we create this level of busy-ness. We ultimately have control about how we spend our time. Skip facebook time or a TV program, say ‘no’ to certain commitments and fit self-care into your routine.
Maintain boundaries - Maintain your boundaries with others even though some people may resist your changing priorities. While this can be challenging, stay assertive about your needs and boundaries. Maintain the boundaries you set for yourself. Remember why it is important to allow children to develop and grow at their own pace, feel proud of their efforts and reclaim time for yourself. Self-care is not-negotiable – it’s absolutely vital for your physical and mental health. You are worth it.
Find your Tribe - When you are your true or authentic self, you create the opportunity for like-minded people to find you. This can happen face-to-face and through participating in virtual groups such as happyyouhappyfamily.com Try it and notice how much easier it is to 'be'.
Small steps often - Regular small sessions (breathing, meditation, yoga, journalling, dancing to a favourite song, reading a chapter of a novel, etc) are far more effective than longer sessions once or twice a month. Start small, prioritise, and listen to what you need.
Perhaps there is a little voice that still frets over what others will think; whether we deserve to take timeout for a walk, to read, to catch up with a friend; or tries to convince us that just 'getting on with it' is still easier. If you need justification, return to the paragraph about how important we are. Kinesiology is a powerful tool to support change. If you need help to shift old patterns and prioritise your well-being, make an appointment today.
What will you change to make some time for yourself?