If Mamma Ain’t Happy Ain’t Nobody Happy: Self Love for the High Achieving Mamma

We all know how important relationships are in our lives.  The people we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on how we see the world, how we view our future, and our overall happiness.  

More important than the relationships we hold with other people is the relationship we have with ourselves.  

In recent years, the term self love has become a buzzword like “intentionality” or “core values”.   These buzz worthy terms sound great and all, but they won’t do you any good unless you take the time to understand and implement their teachings.  The same is true for self love.  

At its core, self love is used to describe a positive relationship with ourselves. As women we tend to be judgmental of ourselves and of other women, so we’ve had to start talking about crafting a positive relationship with ourselves.  

Take for example when you become a new mom, you can literally lose yourself and the person you were before because of the pressure you may feel to project an image of the ideal mother; one who devotes all of her time to her kids, family, and spouse.  

Over time not only are we judging ourselves and other women but once we become mothers we’re also losing whatever independent parts of ourselves that existed.  Hence the rise of the term self love.  

Importance of Self Love 

As much as we shouldn’t jump on any bandwagon just because, this is one buzz worthy term we should get behind.  As high achieving women, we tend to want to do all things and we want to do them really well. Self love is at the root of high performance as a woman, mother, and wife. 

As single ladies finding time for ourselves and spending time on ourselves wasn’t a huge issue.  You do you! Sure we might have been busy, but we had no idea of the demands that future roles would place on our time.  

As a married woman finding time for yourself wasn’t a huge problem either, the time you spent on yourself likely made you a more desirable partner.  While your priorities might have shifted a little to make room for your spouse, you still had time for self love.  

The biggest change happens when we become mothers.  The world tells us that a “good mom” devotes herself to her baby.  She is the one bearing the brunt of most of the baby care giving, duties and chores. She may decide to leave work to focus on being a ‘full time mom’.  A little time goes by and poof, her whole identity has changed. 

Suddenly we realize that the majority of our time is spent on other people.  We want to be an exceptional wife so we spend time on whatever that looks like.  We desire to be a stellar mom so we devote ourselves to our children. At the end of the day, we haven’t spent much time (if any) on ourselves.  

As someone who wants to be the best mom/wife/employee/friend that she can be, it might seem counter intuitive to pour energy into ourselves.  But here’s the thing, in order to be the best most/wife/employee/friend that you can be you have to pour energy into yourself. It’s crucial for you to be full before you attempt to fill others.  

Think of yourself in this way:  

You are a pitcher of water.  There is only so much water in the pitcher, though it is refilled every day.  Whether the pitcher is refilled to the brim or filled only halfway depends on how much time you spend on yourself.  

Your loved ones are like cups around you, you pour a little into your kids, a little into your spouse, some water goes to your mom, you lose a little water to your job, and so on.  

At the end of the day, there isn’t any water left.  If you didn’t start out with a full pitcher because you weren’t spending time on yourself and you began the day half empty, you wouldn’t have been able to serve so much water to everyone else.  Make sense?  

Practicing self love/care ensures that you are full FIRST.  You are putting your needs and your care before others. You don’t do this because you are selfish, you do this so that you can show up in the best way possible for the ones you love.  Your kids need a mom who is emotionally steady, but if you are constantly drained, how are you able to show them love, compassion and care if you are running on empty? 

Self love is one of the most selfless things you can do. 

What self love looks like 

Self love will look different for all of us.  For one, self love means the ability to go for a run.  For another, self love might mean taking time out to get your nails done.  For another it may mean having 1 hour of alone time a day.  

Self love can be tied to a certain activity (nails or gym) or for others it’s more tied to time (you might need 1 hour for yourself per day).  For some this time needs to be on the daily, others need a longer period of time on a weekly basis.  

The key is to not judge your needs.  These are your needs, period. The important part is to understand what your needs are, so that you can meet them.  Think about days or weeks when you’ve been on it. You’ve rocked all your roles and you felt good doing it.  

Were you doing something for yourself?  Maybe you were sleeping more or engaging in a nightly routine that allowed you time to reflect.  Maybe you were getting outside, drinking less caffeine, or waking up a little earlier to get dressed before the kids.  

Were you perhaps NOT doing something?  The things we don’t do are sometimes just as important as the things we do.  Maybe you spent less time on social media, or less time with certain people that leave you feeling judged or empty.  Maybe you watched less TV and read a book instead. Maybe you were intentional with your time and didn’t spend it on things that weren’t important that week.  

Whatever you did or didn’t do, we’ve all had those days or weeks where we really crushed it.  Think about the reasons why those days were so awesome and try to replicate them.  

Strategies for self love

1- First and foremost, don’t ask.  As a mom we tend to feel like our time isn’t our own, there’s always something else we should be doing.  In turn, taking time for ourselves feels like a luxury and something we need to ask for. It’s not.  

We don’t ‘deserve’ time for self love, that makes it sound like we earned it in some way.  You don’t earn time for yourself. You have it naturally but you are also the one who chooses to give it away.  

Instead of asking for this time, just take it.  Yes, you may need to cover off with your partner for childcare so you can find the best day & time, but don’t treat this time as something special your partner is doing for you.  Time for self love is a given for everyone.  

2 – Be realistic & honest.  Most of us already have a little time that we could use on ourselves.  For most of us, this comes when the kids are asleep or otherwise in bed.  

Try to view the time before the kids wake up and after the kids go down as unfettered ‘you’ time.  This is not a time where you have to ask someone else to watch the kids. It’s totally free.  

Take a little time in the morning and at night just for yourself.  You may need to set your alarm to wake up 30 minutes earlier, but it will totally be worth it.  

3 – Be intentional with the time you have.  Make a list of the things that fill you up and do those things.  When you find a hole in your calendar or when the kids are miraculously sleeping longer than usual don’t do chores, instead lean into the things that leave you feeling wonderful. 

Unfortunately, when we find spare minutes here and there (which we all have) we end up using that time on our phones (with social media, unproductive emails, playing a game etc) or doing things around the house.  We do this because it’s the easiest thing to do, we go into autopilot.  

Instead, if you know the things that fill you up, you’ll do those things.  You’ll reach for a book instead of the remote. You’ll head back into the bedroom and spend time washing your face and putting on moisturizer.  You’ll head outside for some sunshine.  

Whatever it is, you won’t waste the time you have on other people’s priorities or on things that might feel leisurely but don’t actually fill you up. 

4 – Spend time on yourself daily or weekly. Giving yourself quality time on a monthly basis is a great idea, but only if it’s extended quality time, some sort of luxury or treat.   Engaging in self care only monthly isn’t likely going to leave you feeling fulfilled on the regular.  

Instead, find small wins for every day or every week.  Using 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night ensures that you can show up for the people that you love on the daily.  Sprinkle in a little weekly walk outside or a bi-weekly pedi and you’re on the road to self love success! 

What does self love mean to you and how do you ensure that you get enough time for it?  

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