1. Nourish yourself so you can nourish your children. A nursing mom can’t feed her baby if she doesn’t feed herself. It’s the same for a mother, no matter what stage of life and parenting. Get your needs met — separately from your children and husband or partner. Watch your feelings. Feelings of self-esteem, love and self-fulfillment likely mean you’re on the right track. If you’re feeling anger, depression or anxiety, something is amiss and you need to pay more attention to you.
2. Pay attention to your basic needs in addition to what nourishes you emotionally. Get adequate sleep, eat well and make healthy food choices, participate in regular physical activity and take breaks during your day to rest and catch your breath.
3. Take a few minutes each day or a couple times a week to reflect on how you feel about your life and yourself. Again, recurring feelings of anger, depression and anxiety, are signals that you may be feeling depleted and unhappy with how things are. If this seems to fit, think about what you can do to take a little better care of you. Often simple steps like taking a half-hour in the evening for a soothing bath or spending time on the phone with a good friend instead of doing another load of laundry, will be just the calming balm you need to feel better again.
4. Chart your own motherhood journey. Remember, there is no one right way to be a mother. Find and accept your true self. You may not be wired for motherhood to fulfill you 100% at the deepest levels, and that is okay. Having a husband and children should not come at the expense of fulfilling your own hopes and dreams. You too have a life purpose. To be completely happy, healthy and fulfilled you will likely need to combine
mothering with other creative endeavors. Not only is it good for you, it’s good for your kids too. Carl Jung once said that the greatest unconscious force in the lives of children is the unfulfilled dreams of their parents.
5. Recognize your children for who they are. Love them. Support them. Encourage them. But don’t get caught up in their achievements or failures. Relying on your children to feel better about yourself is an unstable source of self-esteem. And, it’s not fair to them to have this heavy burden. As Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself…You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday”.
6. Be aware of your thoughts. To what are you giving your attention? If you are thinking negative thoughts, then that is what will be reflected in your life experience. If you think kind and loving thoughts towards yourself, your partner, your children and all others whose lives you touch, you will succeed in creating the kind of home and world we all desire for ourselves and our children.
7. Live in abundance. Another mother’s or child’s success is not a failure for you or your child. There is plenty to go around. Embrace the spirit of support and cooperation rather than competition, and joyfully acknowledge the successes of others. It will come back to you ten-fold.
8. Remember that we are all connected and that who we are and how we raise our children affects not only us and our children, but everyone around us. Approach each day mindfully by being a person who sees the best in herself and others, and extends loving kindness to all that cross her path and everything she touches. Chief Seattle, a native American leader and important teacher put these thoughts beautifully into words,
“ This we know. All things are connected
like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life.
He is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web. He does to himself.”
The Power of Intention, by Wayne Dwyer
The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra
Mother Daughter Wisdom, by Christiane Northrup
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz
Dr.Diane Sanford is a psychologist, author, educator, speaker and mom. Co-author of Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide, she has taught self-care to thousands of pregnant and post-birth moms and their families through her books, videos and CD’s, enabling them to lead healthier, happier lives. On her new blog livingselfcare.com she and co-author Dr.Ann Dunnewold offer self-care tips and advice on how to survive and thrive in new motherhood and beyond. Visit today at http://www.livingselfcare.com.