Why Self-Care Matters
As a mom of two small kids it goes without saying that I’m pretty much tired all the time. When I really think about it though, it’s not the sleep deprivation that exhausts me, it’s having to be emotionally “on” all the time. As moms we try to give as much of ourselves as possible to our children so that they may grow up to be happy, healthy, responsible and loving members of society. But what happens when mama’s emotional well starts to run dry? Taking care of our own needs may seem like a “back burner” issue for many moms, but if we don’t make sure to fill our personal love bank, things can go from bad to worse in a hot minute. For more on why moms take such good care of everyone else at their own expense, I turned to acclaimed psychologist, author and tv/radio personality Dr. Jenn Mann (formerly Dr. Jenn Berman) to see what she might suggest for all the weary moms out there.
– Julia Storm, Director of Production, The Mother Company
An interview with Dr. Jenn Mann (formerly Dr. Jenn Berman)
As moms we are so good at making sure everyone else in the family is being taken care of. Why do so many moms find it so hard to give themselves the same love and attention?
Society trains women to be givers and nurturers and to put other people’s needs in front of our own — whether it be the kids, our spouses, even our parents and friends. It’s counter intuitive for most women to put their own self-care in front of any of those people.
So how can we recognize when it’s time for some self-love? What are the signs?
There are a few things to look for: Do you find yourself being short-tempered, agitated, exhausted, or frustrated more than usual? If you are not being the parent or the partner that you want to be you have to look at what’s going on in terms of your own self-care. It’s also important to periodically look at your day to day schedule on paper; how much of your time are you giving to work, parenting, and to your partner versus the time you spend doing something that you actually enjoy? Typically women don’t tend to schedule time for themselves, they think it’s not important; but the truth is that it’s the gasoline that keeps the car running.
How does not taking care of our own needs impact the rest of the family?
If you are on an airplane, you’re supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then your child — if you pass out you’re useless to your child — the same rules apply to everyday life. If we’re not taking good enough care of ourselves we end up being useless and less efficient in the long run. Many moms feel guilty for taking an hour or two to see a friend or get their nails done, but the truth is that that hour away from our family to recharge can ultimately give us much better quality time when we are together. It ends up being to your family’s benefit.
There is also a long term impact on the family when mom doesn’t take care of herself. Her lack of self-care creates stress, conflict and tension for the whole family. Our kids also look to us as role models, and especially for our daughters, it’s important to show them the importance of self-care so that when they are grown they will follow suit.
What are some tips you can give for moms who are having a hard time giving themselves the love and attention they deserve?
First of all moms should regularly schedule dinners with friends. It’s also important to do the little things that make you feel good — whatever that might be. Little bits of self care are significant and make a big difference. It’s a lot harder if you’re a single mom, but if you have a partner this is a great opportunity for your kids to have that bonding time with their other parent. Our partners are generally more capable than we give them credit for and it’s good for them and for their relationship with the kids to have a night when they are in charge.
Dr. Jenn Mann (formerly Dr. Jenn Berman) is the author of the LA Times best selling books SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years and The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids. She is also the host and lead therapist on VH1’s Couple’s Therapy, has appeared as a psychological expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show and is a regular on The Today Show, The Early Show, and HLN.
The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children. Check out episodes of our “Ruby’s Studio” children’s video series, along with our beautiful children’s books, apps, music, handmade dolls, and more.
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Posted in: Expert Advice, Emotions, Family, Health & Wellness