Are you guilty of putting the needs of everyone else before your own? Find out why ‘spoiling’ yourself isn’t just nice – it makes you a better mum, partner and friend too!
As a rule, mums are terrible at putting ourselves first. In our mental to-do list, doing something we love, just because comes somewhere between clearing out that drawer where everything that doesn’t belong anywhere else gets dumped, and organising our books into alphabetical order by author.
In other words, it’s just not important enough to us to ever actually get done. Not when there’s cleaning, cooking, organising and tidying up after people to prioritise – whether we like it or not.
It’s not healthy to put your needs last
But we don’t think that’s right. In fact, more than just right, we don’t think it’s healthy. We have learned from experience what happens when you stretch yourself to breaking point, giving your all to everyone but you. (And it’s not great.)
We’ve also learned how much better life is for everyone when you get a little ‘selfish’ and make time to do the stuff that you love once in a while.
We’ve published a few articles on the importance of me-time (and what happens when you don’t make time for it). But we loved, and really related to, this blog by image consultant Helen Reynolds about the importance of spoiling yourself, and were delighted when she agreed to let us share it with you.
Because I’m not worth it
It’s Wednesday. It’s a gorgeously sunny day. The whole country is on a mission to enjoy it to the MAX before the torrential downpour scheduled for tomorrow.
And what am I doing?
I’m in my office typing this and frantically preparing for my Get your Style Sorted workshop on Saturday.
By the time you read this, my workshop will be all over but, as excited as I am about it, to say I’m not getting the best out of the weather is a huge understatement.
At lunchtime I decided to squeeze in a bit of outdoor time, so I popped outside to eat my salad for ten minutes when this thought crossed my mind:
‘I won’t bother to get the chair cushions out. It’s not worth it just for me.’
Do you have thoughts like that too?
Are you afraid of ‘luxury’ too?
The majority of women, at least among my friends and clients, have this peculiar idea that any standard of living above what is routinely offered when detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure is somehow too much of a ‘luxury’, or that we are ‘spoilt’ if we look after ourselves.
So, you get into situations where you think: “Oh, just me for dinner tonight, I won’t bother to cook anything. I’ll just have toast.” And: “I don’t have anything nice to wear, but it doesn’t matter because the kids look cute. No one’s looking at me anyway.”
This is wrong. It may seem superficial, but we need to factor little treats into our daily routine. If we don’t, it can have a massive impact on our self-esteem.
Many of my clients are really suffering from this by the time they get into my studio, and the results can be debilitating. Women turning down invitations because they’ve got nothing to wear, or resorting to wearing ancient tracksuit bottoms and hoodies (like prisoners) because ‘at least they fit’.
By constantly putting your (often quite basic) needs last, you are doing yourself a disservice. If you have kids, it’s even more important to do things for yourself. Your children need to know that their mother is a human being with the same rights as everyone else! What sort of an adult are they going to be if they don’t realise that now?
Don’t be ashamed of taking time off
In the morning when I drop my sons off at school, we mums get together while waiting for the bell to go, as mums do across the country, and discuss what we might have planned for the day.
So many women are mortally embarrassed if they are forced to admit that they are off to have their hair cut or that they are popping into town to get some shoes. As if taking two hours off work or housework is something to be ashamed of.
What is the alternative? Walk around barefoot? Grow hair so long it’s impossible to see out?
Please don’t worry that you might be judged if you spoil yourself a little. Trust me, most people will hardly notice! Having a pedicure once a month will not lead everyone you meet in your local shop to assume that you are turning into J-Lo.
Five ways I spoil myself
So, in the interest of openness and female solidarity, here are the things that I enjoy doing when I take a little time for myself:
- Regular haircuts and colour – I ALWAYS rebook when I leave the salon, otherwise I struggle to make time to ring for another appointment.
- Gym time – I’m not really driven about exercising, but I know that my mood always lifts when I’ve done something active. If I can’t get there three times a week, I’ll prioritise a walk around the block.
- Wardrobe management – (I know, it’s my job, but I still love it!!!) I spend time thinking about what’s in my wardrobe, where the holes are and identifying what I need to get to make outfits complete.
- Watching TV – I watch a lot of ‘non-intellectual’ TV programmes. I LOVE them. Some of them are woefully dreadful but they help me to wind down. Sue me.
- Massage – I’m not talking about spa massage, but I regularly visit my local professional masseuse. Otherwise stress goes straight to my shoulder and it starts to hurt.
Spoiling myself makes me a better mum
Having these things as my go-to activities, just for me, means that I am a much better mum. And not just mum – wife, daughter and friend too.
When I’ve made time in my schedule for what is important to me, I’m really happy to spend the rest of my time doing the things that are important to my family and friends, like visiting Homebase or sticking cardboard boxes together. I am more available for everyone else without that nagging feeling that I’d prefer to be watching X Factor or sorting through my vest tops.
So, let’s hear your thoughts. How do you spoil yourself? I’d love to open the debate here. Let’s all come out of the closet on this one – without shame! Add your comments below.
Think it’s time to start taking better care of yourself too? You can get my five essential steps to looking and feeling fabulous here. (Follow me on Facebook too!)Helen Reynolds