“My family comes first.” It’s the mantra of mommies all around the world. When we stop to think about our families and their needs though, more often than not us moms don’t include ourselves in the picture. Why? Are we not half of who produced these little beings? Did our spouse not choose us to build a family with them? We are an integral part of our family, so why do we keep leaving ourselves out of our own lives? Why do we allow ourselves to feel so guilty about having our basic needs met that we continuously put ourselves on the back burner, only to put someone else first? Don’t our needs and desires matter too?
They do. Because when it comes down to it, it’s really difficult to be a great wife and mother if we are only ever putting our spouse and children first. To be the best partner and parent I can be, I’ve learned that I need to be selfish sometimes. Here’s are a few ways I do just that:
- I go to the doctor by myself to discuss personal questions and have my breasts examined while my legs are wide open and on display without having to worry about a little one asking me for an apple squeezie. I need to be able to have that time to have my own body looked at and be able to pay attention to what my doctor is telling me. After all, it’s my health and I cannot give to my family if I’m not keeping myself healthy.
- I decide what sounds good to eat. Often times us moms only get one true meal a day (if that), as most of us snack on the leftovers our children leave behind. I put so much thought into what fills my son’s tummy and keeps him happy (and not hangry), but by the end of the day I’m usually ready for a grown-up meal that involves more than just applesauce and carrot sticks. I’ve learned to embrace that need and treat myself now and then
- I take naps sometimes. I do a lot around the house, so if the clean laundry sits in the dryer or in a basket for an extra couple hours during my son’s nap time so that I can recharge myself, big deal. When your little one is awake for 12-14 hours out of the day, you can’t always go full-speed all day long.
- I allow my child play by himself while I talk on the phone. Some days I need to talk to someone who has been through this before. I need to vent and commiserate and hear my mom tell horror stories that are funny to her now. I need to hear that it’s ok to be exhausted and to share the wonderful moments that I have with my child. And some days I just need to hear her voice. Again, when I am spending 12-14 waking hours with the most precious of human beings, I need to take a moment to feel like one too.
- I set up some of my son’s play dates so that I can spend time with my friends. Obviously, my friends’ children are like nieces and nephews to me, and wonderful friends to my son. But there are some days that a play date is made solely because I need to be with my friends too, in the personal space of someone’s home where you don’t care if every toy in the house comes out as long as you get a chance to catch up and regain your sanity.
- I put my son to bed 30 minutes early some nights because I want to take a shower and have a glass of wine and watch my favorite episode of Friends, so that I can feel like I had some “me” time before I hit the hay too. When I spend all day “doing” for someone else, I need a moment to myself, and with my husband away for many more months, this routine has been my savior. And an extra 30 minutes of sleep never hurt anyone!
- I run errands with the tablet fully charged so that my little guy can play all of his alphabet and counting games while we go to the store, post office, gas station, get our haircut, and back to the store because I forgot the one thing I went there for in the first place. These moments of structured screen time allow me to concentrate on my tasks and it keeps him happy. It gets us in and out because he’s not asking for this or that and it just plain makes it easier on me.
- I do things I enjoy. Whether it’s writing, cooking, or getting crafty with my girlfriends, it’s doing the things I enjoy that make me a better wife and mother. I am not the energizer bunny and I cannot continually go for others without stopping to care for myself. It’s simply not healthy. I need hobbies and I need my own life. My husband didn’t just marry me so that I could be a wife and mother, he married me because he loved who I was before all that. He doesn’t want me to lose sight of that person just because we have a family now. I owe it to our relationship to not completely lose touch with the me I was back then, because that’s the person that got us to today.
I’ve learned over time that it’s okay to be selfish. I promised my husband that I would hold down the fort while he is away, love our little guy hard enough for the both of us, and take care of myself. I’m not living up to my promises if I don’t make time for myself. And even when he comes home next year, I will still owe it to my family to take care of me and to put myself first sometimes. One of the best ways I can support my husband and son is by “spoiling” myself at times. But I’m not looking for diamond rings and glittery glory, I’m simply wanting to feel like a normal human being. So whether it’s my health, my time, my sanity, or just doing things that make me happy and feel good, I’m going to take advantage. And in the end that is putting my family first.