The reasons a mother gives herself for not “indulging” in self-care are numerous. There isn’t enough time in the day, the children come first, they simply forgot, they feel too guilty taking time for themselves over their family. However, this outdated 1950s mode of thinking is no longer applicable in today’s day and age. Few if any studies have been conducted to evaluate the long-term effects of self-care vs. little or none on mothers; women who are raising the children who will inevitably decide the future of the world we all live in. You cannot have a more important job than that.
According to studies published in Caroline Anne Mavridis Euro-American Mothers Ethnotheories and Practices of Self-Care, “despite the belief that self-care was considered important, all mothers expressed guilt over taking time for self as they struggled to balance their needs with those of their family members.”
What lesson is more important to teach your children than caring for self? Where else will they learn how to do this than from their mothers?
If mothers cannot care for themselves, they cannot care for their families. Mothers will reach a point of burnout. They need to understand that practicing self-care is just as important as caring for their family. There is no guilt in this. Guilt is a self-defeating prophesy. Children may show respect for the sacrifices their mothers went through while raising them, but they also learn that self-care has no place in family life. They see and sense the stress, the depression, the anxiety that can set in when self-care is ignored. This is a cycle that needs to be permanently broken.
The old adage, “it takes a village,” was true then and is still true today. Women should not be trying to strive for the “do everything until you drop” mother award. Whether it’s family, friends, school, or the community, women need to seek and ask for help long before they reach the stage of burnout.
If guilt is hitching a ride on your shoulder, you need to reevaluate how you view self-care. If not for yourself, see it as teaching your children how to care for themselves. They are the most important individuals in a mother’s life, teach them the skills they need to grow up to be strong, self-caring adults. It doesn’t need to be time consuming or expensive; it could be as simple as walking outside into the sunshine and breathing deeply. All mothers deserve to be cared for, especially by themselves. This will be a far better cycle to establish for the future.