Fall In Love Again
Why you should love yourself as much as you love them
5 Tips on How to Love Yourself
By Annette Benedetti
As a parent, making sure every member of your family has everything they need to stay healthy while feeling unconditionally loved and nurtured is your primary focus and the driving force behind everything you do. Loving and caring for your children and partner comes naturally, but between knocking out the daily tasks and taking care of everyone else, considering your own health and wellbeing is often forgotten.
There is no doubt that parenting requires a certain amount of physical, mental, and emotional sacrifice. The underlying stress, lack of sleep, and physical toll that comes with caring for a family can catch up with you. It should be no surprise when you find an unfamiliar, rundown version of your former self staring back at you in the mirror.
Now is the perfect time to consider giving some extra love to a key member of your family: yourself. While putting yourself and your needs last seems like the right thing to do, it is actually more harmful than good for your whole family. You are your children’s mentor, the person they emulate and want to be when they grow up. They will fashion the way they view and treat themselves around how they believe you view and treat yourself. Take a moment to get honest with yourself and reflect: is that what you really want?
This month, make falling in love with yourself again (or for the first time) a goal. The following are five ways you can start fostering a sense of self-love. Pick a couple to commit to and make loving you a priority.
Stop comparing yourself to others, especially other parents. You are bombarded with online articles, news stories, and books on parenting every day. It’s nearly impossible to hang out with other parents without getting caught up in a discussion (Read: debate) about how you should deal with TV time or potty and sleep training. From free-range parenting to helicopter parenting, each family finds the approach that works for them and you should feel confident in what works best for you. Stop beating yourself up for choosing not to enroll your children in extracurricular activities every night of the week. A big part of loving yourself is trusting that you know what works for your family.
Treat yourself to something you want. Wants and needs are two very different things. Parents are notorious for neglecting their basic needs. Their wants are rarely even on the table as something to consider. It’s time to change that. Do you dismiss your child’s wants? How much joy does it give both you and your children, when you treat them to that toy they’ve been dying to have or that piece of clothing that they are just sure will change their social status while walking down the middle school hallway? How often do you pick them up a special treat just to make their day a little brighter, to remind them that they are loved, or to reward them for working hard or behaving well? Well don’t you deserve the same?
Meet your own physical needs. You wouldn’t let your child go without the proper nutrition, amount of sleep, adequate clothing, or physical hygiene. So why has it been six months since your last trip to the salon and why are you eating that microwaved burrito while your child enjoys locally grown vegetables and free-range chicken expertly spiced and grilled to perfection? The way you care for your children’s physical needs is a big part of how you show them you love them and attending to your own needs at that same level is an important expression of self-love. You deserve to be well groomed and fashionably dressed. Take one afternoon a month to treat yourself to a hair cut, manicure and pedicure, and a good thorough waxing! You will love yourself more for it (and so will your partner.)
Adjust your concept of perfection. As parents we often hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations and then beat ourselves up when we don’t meet them. Juggling the children’s schedules, work, house chores, and a relationship requires keeping a lot of balls in the air. Dropping one now and then is inevitable. Maybe it’s time to reconsider what parenting perfection means to you. Are your children happy and healthy? Do they feel loved and protected? If you answered yes to both of these questions then you are doing a great job as a parent, and it’s safe to bet that you look perfect in their small eyes.
Practice compassion. When a family member feels sad or is experiencing stress in their lives, showing them compassion and support comes easy. So why is it so hard to do the same for yourself? Next time you feel down or are experiencing anxiety, take a moment to check in with yourself. What is that small voice in your head saying? What would you say to your child or your partner if they were feeling the same way you are? If the language you are using with yourself isn’t the same as the language you would use with those who you love most, it needs to change. Take time each day to stop and send yourself the same compassionate messages you give the ones you love. Eventually this kind of self-talk will become habit and you will catch yourself doing it without having to think. n