One of the best parts of my job is that I get to spend a lot of time talking to women.
Talking one to one to clients, chatting to Facebook followers, communicating over email to women I’ll probably never meet, and also making presentations to small groups on a regular basis. I’m a talker, I love to talk. I get it from my Mum. Who got it from her Mum, but that’s beside the point.
The point is I love talking, especially to other mothers, because it’s how I can best support the clients I work with, how I can get the message I want to share out into the world, but most importantly, it’s how I learn so much about this wonderful client group I work with.
Yesterday I was excited to be the guest speaker at a meeting of the Australian Breastfeeding Association here in Adelaide, where I was asked to talk on the topic of ‘self care for Mums’.
Now it’s true that phrases such as ‘self care’, ‘put yourself first’ and ‘find time for me time’ can often feel like massively cliched buzzwords in today’s motherhood environment. They’re a dime a dozen and I bet they’re sprawled all over the sponsored ads clogging up your news feed on a daily basis. It seems everywhere we turn Mums are being told to take better care of themselves, meditate more and eat more kale. Hey, I’m one of those people saying those things!
And while most people would agree that taking care of your own wellbeing is an exceptionally important task, both for your own sake, and that of your family, there is also another consideration to this ‘make me-time a priority’ message, as one of the women in my presentation yesterday pointed out.
Her comment was that this drive for mothers to prioritise self care can often feel like another big unachievable task on that never-ending ‘to-do’ list. Something that women already know they should be doing, and desperately want to do, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t happen.
What she was questioning was this: why is it just the responsibility of the mother to look after her own wellbeing? Where’s her support squad? Shouldn’t we expect our husbands, partners, parents, friends, aunties, grandmothers, or whoever else we have in our lives, to also step up to the plate. To be there to help us look after ourselves, just as we support everyone around us to look after themselves.
It’s a valid point.
Certainly we shouldn’t expect other people to look after us and cater to all of our needs. It’s not the 1950s after all.
But surely we deserve a little bit of consideration? Especially in those early months (or even years) of motherhood. It’s okay to want our village to step up. But here’s the thing. What we might actually need to do first is invite that village in. To reach out and seek support, to let our tribe know that we’re really focused on supporting our own wellbeing and that we’d love any help they could offer up. They’re not mind readers after all.
I know asking for support is not always on our list of top five favourite things to do. It can leave us feeling open, vulnerable and perhaps even weak. But it can also open us up to truly receiving love and compassion from those around us, and to feel sincere gratitude for those people in our own little village when they step up.
Which brings us back to the question of “are we wholly responsible for our own wellbeing”? Well I guess the answer is yes – because our own wellbeing is too important for us not take the reins. It is ultimately up to us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sub-contract the task out to those we know and trust as well. We just need to have faith that those we ask will respond. But it starts with asking. And that’s on us.
What about you? Do you have people around you who support your wellbeing? How do they do it? How would you like them to help?
Let me know in the comments, pop a note below this post on facebook, or even email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time.