As I watch all of the parents running around with the start of Fall busting their butts for their kids, I feel their pain and exhaustion. It's so hard. The expectations of parents today in the world of technology that allows us to do so much with our time (too much sometimes), well, it's ridiculous. And yes, it's important to take care of your kids, but if you're feeling resentful and annoyed with them and not able to enjoy them, you're not doing them any favors. I get it. I struggle with this too.
Last week, as I juggled all of my kids' activities and starts of school and school supplies and temper tantrums and laundry... oh, and work... I started to feel something I didn't like. Irritability. I felt like a drill sergeant ordering my children from here to there and demanding that they keep their shoes on their feet and not throw their food and trash on the floor of the car or the house, or scream in the car -- why oh why do they do scream in the car? Suddenly, everything and everyone was pissing me off. Especially the telemarketer who called me fifteen times last week. I was irritated with my friends and children before they did anything at all -- the problem was not with them.
The problem was with me.
The problem was that I was taking care of everybody except for me.
With good reason, I didn't have much time for me. But that left me feeling irritable. Feeling irritable does not make for a good parent, a good friend, or much of anything at all (My apologies go out to the telemarketer who was just doing her job and got her head bit off at the end of the week... I'm sorry).
I went for a walk with a friend and was telling her that I felt like a mean, bitchy mom sometimes. It's true. I do. Another mom passing by overheard me and kindly said, "You're not." And that's true too. I'm not. But I am not always my best self. And when I am not taking care of myself, I am definitely not my best self.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It's the opposite.
It allows you to show up and be present for the people you care most about in the world. This past weekend, I went to yoga, I ran, I got a cheap massage, and watched a movie on demand while I caught up on laundry. I feel fantastic.
When clients show up in my office guilty to spend money or take time for themselves, I remind them that taking care of themselves is what makes them able to enjoy and show up for their family. Self-care is a gift not just for you but for everybody around you (including obnoxious telemarketers). On top of it, you're modeling healthy self-care for your kids. Do you want them to grow up sacrificing themselves for everybody else feeling irritable and annoyed? If that's what you're doing, that's what you're teaching them to do too.