Think for a moment about a good parent.
A good parent knows how to nurture, praise and shower their child with unconditional acceptance and love. They take great care to make sure their kids are well-fed, make sure they get enough sleep and protect them from anything that might hurt them.
They also have the ability to set and maintain boundaries, hold their children accountable for their actions, expect them to work hard, be honest and accept consequences when they misbehave.
Most of my clients work very hard to be good parents to their children. But they’re often missing one of the most impactful and lasting parenting tool.
Being a good parent to themselves.
I usually get a funny look from a woman when I say that to her. You can tell she’s rarely thought about herself in that way. We think that once we’ve become an adult, we’ve outgrown the need for a parent. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
We really are just grown up kids who still need all the things we listed above. Only, now, our care is in our own hands.
Every day, I work with women who are carrying the huge weight and responsibility of raising a family. They are often overworked and tired, stressed and feeling out of control. Most of them just don’t feel comfortable spending time and energy on caring for themselves.
When I meet with them, the first thing I do is encourage them to look at their self-care. I explain that there’s only so much other people can do for them. Unless they begin to see themselves as worthy of their own attention and love, then they will remain stuck and not feel good. Even after much talking, educating, planning and cheering them on, I often find that the women I see have a terrible time actually taking care of themselves. When I see this happening, I inevitably pull out my secret weapon.
It is this: “If you want to be a good parent to your kids, if you want them to learn to love themselves and know how to take good care of themselves, then the very best thing you can do is… take good care of yourself.
It’s truly that simple. Thinking about their self-care in this way almost always gives them the motivation and permission to go ahead and start trying the things we’ve been talking about.
You see, something happens when we take on the role of mom. A switch gets flipped inside that turns our focus to taking care of our family and then somehow, we forget that we are part of that precious family! We need the same kind of care we’re giving our kids because we’re just as valuable as they are! And when we treat ourselves with that kind of love and respect, then our kids see what taking care of themselves can look like when they get to be a parent.
When your daughter watches you eating healthy food throughout the day, going on walks, taking time to do things you enjoy and saying no to projects or people when you are maxed out, guess what she learns?
She learns that it’s okay to be good to herself because she’s watched her mom do it. As a grown-up, she’ll remember that sometimes her mom went to the gym or a girl’s night out. She’ll recall that her mom took good care of her body, getting sleep and going on walks. She’ll have watched her say no sometimes when she was maxed out with activities and appointments and watched her take a nap on the hammock outside once in a while. She might even remember being told that her mom couldn’t bring her the backpack she forgot at home or do her laundry for her because her mom had an exercise class she had scheduled.
The mom that child remembers is not a selfish mom- it’s a smart mom.
So, ask yourself this question:
How do you want your sons and daughters to treat themselves when they’re working at a job, running a household and caring for their family?
If you want them to be good and kind to themselves when they’re grown, then you must show them how it is done.
So, now you know my secret weapon for getting moms to own their own self-care. It’s a little sneaky, but it’s for your good. You deserve to live a life filled with good things. The only way to make that happen is by being a good parent to yourself!