Mothers with daughters, if you are putting yourself at the end of your list of things to take care of you are teaching your daughter to do the same. You can like that or not, but it hitting an uncomfortable spot doesn’t make it less true. More is caught than taught.
Imagine your daughter where you are now. She has many demands; children, work, household, volunteering, and who knows what else. She is tired and at the end of her rope. What is your advice to her? Just keep going? Just dig in and work more? Keep saying yes to things that drain her? No. You’d tell her to stop, take a vacation, take a breath. If she is hating on her body, you’d tell her to take care of it. You’d tell her that she matters and those little hellions, I mean angels, will survive if she takes a bit of time for herself. You’d tell her to put herself at the top of her list because you love her and want her to be healthy and sane.
If you want these things for her the best thing you can do as she is growing up (and even now if she is already grown) is to model what that looks like. Her survival through your “me time” will give her confidence that her children will also survive in her self-care absence.
I’m always so proud of our moms who bring littles to the gym in dancewear and karate gi’s. We have a big table in our lobby and the kids hang out for 30 or 45-mintues while mom or dad get in a Spin class, then off to practice they go.
Do you know how many parents will sit for hours watching their child play a sport, or practice a sport, but for some reason think it’s not okay to have their child sit while they do their thing. That’s crazy.
My daughter Chloe was a swimmer from 4-years old through her junior year in high school, making her state team all three high-school years. I have spent my time in the bleachers for sure. And seriously, swimming is the worst! Three days of hotel, 4-hour car ride, board the dog, eat at restaurants, buy the over-priced swim meet sweatshirt, sit in an uncomfortable seat for 25 hours all to watch your child swim for 28 seconds. Hopefully less! Don’t get me wrong, she is leaving for college in a couple months and I’m already missing those days. However, I figure after all of that time I spent watching her chase a dream, if I needed her to wait for me for 45 minutes to get in a workout it was teaching her several things.
I know that last one sounds harsh. But trust me my kids are loved, and they know it. We spend more time together than the average family, I’m certain. Yes, it may be at our business, but it’s still together. I homeschool my younger and we spend many hours in my office at the gym doing science and grammar. My parents owned their own business as well, so this is the only “growing up” I know, because I literally lived in my family’s business. We lived there. So, I know what this life is like as a child and now as a parent. And boy do I have a new appreciation for my parents.
So maybe your “me time” is that time you need to start the new hobby you’ve been wanting to take up. Do it. Do you know how much better a mom you’ll be if you are allowing your creative genius to escape on a regular basis?
Maybe you have wanted to start a side-hustle, or main-hustle, do it. Your daughter will see you making your dreams matter.
Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Show your daughter what it looks like to set a goal, make it a priority, and get your health back. Your whole family will benefit. I know this one from personal experience.
This is a 5-year journey between the photo on the left and the one on the right. And if you think my body changed....that's nothing. It was the mental work that really mattered. More on that later.
Here is the key - That desire you have deep inside you, the one that feels trapped. Let it out. Show your daughter that it matters. As she grows, becomes more independent, has a family and a career, she too will go through those years where she loses herself. Show her how to get back to her by YOU GETTING BACK TO YOU.
Your greatest desire for her, model it. Don’t spend your life telling her “Don’t do what I did,” even if you feel it’s too late. If you’re reading this, it’s so not too late. Get your body back, light your passion up, start that business, go back to school. Whatever it is that would make you more you, do it. Show her how it’s done, even imperfectly, and most of all show her that it matters. Show her that how we take care of ourselves matters. Show her how that dream matters. Show her that she matters by making YOU matter.
Okay, so, I started to end this post right there. Felt like a fairly good ending. Maybe not “mic drop” worthy, but pretty close. But I couldn’t finish without acknowledging a couple of things. If this has made you feel worse rather than better and fired up, I’m going to guess that one of two things may be the case.
First, this was never modeled for you. You may have had a mother who never taught you that you matter. You may have not grown up with a mother in the home at all, or maybe you had one in the home but not present. There are a million scenarios that we could come up with here. Bottom line is you have no point of reference because you don’t know what a healthy level of selfishness looks like. That’s ok. This is a skill and a skill can be acquired. I too lost myself along the way and had to work to get me back. It wasn’t easy but it’s been worth it. Zone was born from that. This blog was born from that. So much good has come from that. And all along the way I talked with Chloe about it. I have been a super role-model at times, and at times I’ve failed and had to ask her for forgiveness. I don’t know if she understands or not. I don’t really expect her to…now. I know, one day she will. She will be a mom, she will mess up, she will ask for forgiveness and she will think of me, and then she will know. I am ok with all of that process. So, even if it’s messy, find a starting place, get help, get a coach, join a group. Just do it.
And to make sure I'm being 100% here I must admit to you that my youngest is permanently scarred from me leaving him, not just once, but twice! Once I left the gym and forgot he was there. I was home, glass of wine in hand when the phone rang. One of my instructors was on the other end, "Did you forget something?" And then there was the time that I walked away from the cart he was in at Target. Just left him there in the aisle. He had to climb out of the little child seat thingy and come find me. Y'all, take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm just doing this thing too. Some days better than others. I think therapy is a good thing. Now he and his therapist will have a few topics to dive into. You're welcome.
The second thing I must mention before I finish is because I’ve coached enough women to know that I have just thrown a big pile of overwhelm in some of your laps. You want it. You believe me. You’re ready but you don’t know where to start. My answer; anywhere. Do not overthink this. Find one small step you can take and just start. Sign up for the class, go check out the local gym, go for a run…do something, anything. And don’t get ready to start. Do not go buy the paints and then not paint. Don’t spend hours setting up your office or website or researching your side-hustle. If you want to run a half-marathon don’t just download plans. All of this just getting ready to do something. Take action! Do something today! Now! Let’s pull a Mel Robbins here and 5…4…3…2…1…GO! Do not hesitate, do not overthink. Do it. And tonight when you tuck your little lady into bed, tell her that you did something today that made you proud of yourself. Tell her. Share the journey with her. Not your plans, but your actions. You’ve got this!
Jen Mulford is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and champion for personal freedom.