Updated: Jul 22
One weekend, I gave and gave and gave myself to the kids, the house, the work I hadn't finished that week, and my husband, and by Sunday night, I was totally exhausted, I had nothing left in my cup, and I was resentful- the kids didn't appreciate the time I'd given them, the work I did went nowhere, the house got messy again- I wasted all of my time, and didn't get anything for myself...
So I decided to give myself some time. First. Before everyone else. I set my alarm for 5.30 on Monday morning, to do the things that would make me feel better and re-energise me for the week.
And then? I got so excited. I was so looking forward to getting up at this ridiculous hour because I would get to do anything I wanted for a whole hour until anyone else needed anything from me. No work, no kids, no cleaning. No one else but me.
And I did it- I got up, I had a coffee, I meditated, I did some yoga stretches. I stayed in my own space for that whole glorious hour in peace and quiet as the day started. And by the time the kids woke up? I greeted them with more energy and more in my cup than I had that whole weekend. And I wanted more- I did it again on Wednesday and Friday. I wasn't tired from getting up early, I was energised- because I had done the things that help to make me feel better- that maintained my mental health.
Making this small shift started to make me feel so much better- even if I only got 15 minutes, that small amount of time was so important. Because in taking this time, I was telling myself that I was important. I was worth it.
By prioritising this time for myself- first- I started to do other things for myself. I realised that I wasn't able to do the big self care things like bubble baths and massages because I didn't feel worthy. I needed to start by recognising and fulfilling my basic needs like peeing when I needed to, nourishing my body, and showering. When I did this, I felt more confident in doing the things that would improve my wellbeing, and I started in reaching out to friends for coffee to engage in social self care, and more things started coming to me that I needed to journal about
When was the last time you actually gave yourself the time that you needed to feel whole again, to fill up your cup and get ahead of yourself. And no, I don't mean that tiny bit of time leftover at the end of the day when you are exhausted, scrolling on your phone, or watching Netflix to relax. I'm talking about time that you need to engage in your constructive self care. The meditating you know you need to do to slow down your mind, the journaling you know you need to do to process your mum journey, and the movement that helps you to feel better in your body.
Dr Zali Yager is a researcher and entrepreneur in the area of maternal mental health and body image, and a Mum of 3 kids aged 8, 5, and 5.
After 15 years in academia and juggling mamahood and careerlife where she felt like she was failing at both, Zali started to prioritise herself, and she wants to help other Mums do the same.