Summer is over, and the children have returned to school — a time of year when many mothers experience a mix of emotions: some joy in lessened demands, more time for themselves and the return of regular routine. Yet there is sadness that their children are not around. After all, our kids are pretty neat people!
Summertime is a vacation for the kids, but that’s often not the case for Mom — over break time, childcare needs to be provided, including meals and the desire to make summer fun for them. This means a lot of extra work on top of the usual routine. When you feel like no one is noticing what you’re doing, or worse, takes your hard work for granted, you may feel resentful and ask yourself, “When is it my turn? When is someone going to take care of my needs? When is someone going to make life fun for me?”
Putting the Kids First All the Time Isn’t Good for Them or You
Parents are their children’s first teachers. We teach our kids how the world works with our words, actions and attitudes. Children observe everything, including what their mothers say, do, and feel.
Are you modeling martyrdom? There’s a lot of cultural pressure on Moms to deny their needs while ensuring their children don’t want for anything. This dynamic can lead to resentment, which is bad for you, your children, and for the mother/ child relationship.
You teach your children to give by graciously receiving from them. This early lesson is important, so that your kids grow up to be healthy adults — not perpetual givers who neglect to take care of themselves, or perpetual takers who exploit others. It is absolutely appropriate to ask your children to prioritize your needs some of the time. so that they learn how and when to prioritize themselves and others through your example.
When Is It My Turn? When You Make It Your Turn
If you’ve been asking yourself “When is it my turn?” you’ll be relieved to learn that there is an answer to that question that doesn’t rely on your spouse, or children. Your turn will come as soon as you are willing to love yourself enough to put your needs and desires first some of the time.
Think about breathing. You need to inhale and exhale in balance. Giving and receiving work the same way. Many Moms feel like they give all of the time. Yet leading a happy, fulfilled life also means learning to receive.
Start By Understanding How To Be Soul Selfish
One of the reasons Moms don’t prioritize their own needs is that they believe taking care of themselves is selfish. They’re right – but being selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are two levels of selfishness. The first is ego selfishness, the most common definition, where you do what you want without regard for the impact of your actions on others.
The second level is soul selfishness. This is when you love yourself enough to give love, time, and attention to yourself — what you need to be in balance and at your best. If your children aren’t used to you acting as if you mattered, there can be some tension as they adjust to this new normal. I address how this worked with my family in my book — but as they see how life becomes better for everyone with a happier Mom, that tension gradually lessens.