No matter the circumstance being a parent is one of the most challenging experiences life has to offer. There is no way to prepare for this new life of sleep deprivation and eventually a little personality that may or may not listen to you. Managing a full time job, taking care of your little human(s), keeping a household together, managing a romantic relationship with your partner, family, friends, and perhaps a touch of a social life can make it feel impossible to find time to take care of yourself! Now we all know that this is true, but we also have to realize that the only way we can manage this crazy lifestyle is by putting ourselves FIRST.
Yes, I said it, you have to put yourself first. But, you might ask, "How can I put myself before my children, my job, or even my spouse?" The answer to this is that by taking care of you first, you will be a better mother, partner, friend, and even more productive at work.
See, when we try to manage these things in any other order, we feel deprived, we feel depleted, and we have less balance and patience to take care of those we love. It may feel a little backward to think that in order to become a better mom, or dad, you have to put yourself first, but believe me there is no other way around it. Not only is putting yourself first important, it is necessary.
My son was born in 2006, but in 2007 at the age of 26 I found myself starting my life over as a single mom. I was very fortunate to have a good job and a wonderful support system to keep me rooted, but life was not easy to say the least. Trying to balance being a mom, saleswoman, and all the other areas of my life consumed me. I felt guilty that I had not better prepared a life for my son to grow up in a two parent household, but also that I was so busy trying to make a descent living that our time together always seemed like business. You know homework, dinner, shower, read, and then off to dreamland. This constant struggle of trying to be a good mom and a good provider took a toll on me and in 2011 I fell into a deep depression.
I was so busy taking care of my son's needs, my house, and my job that I felt empty inside. I would try to do little things like hang out with the girls or my family from time to time, but I was so tired that this wasn't enough. It was during this time of darkness that I had to look inside and find the answers that I needed, to find my truth. I spent a lot of time researching non-medicinal ways of dealing with depression, and luckily I discovered yoga, reiki, and meditation.
It was a long and slow process for me but I started with meditation, trying to meditate everyday definitely took the edge off. My next step was incorporating reiki and in 2013 I became reiki I attuned. Once I started to incorporate yoga into my healing process I soon felt like I was strong again, that I could handle anything, and that I was going to be ok.
During this process of healing I realized that because I wasn't taking care of myself I was depleting my own energy, making it impossible to be the mother that I wanted to be. I was short tempered, impatient, and honestly not the best version of myself. I now practice some form of yoga daily whether it's meditation, asana (yoga postures), pranayama, and or journaling, and I have to admit I love my life! I have become a better mom having more patience to deal with the daily life of raising a child. My relationship with my son is strong and I know that putting myself first has helped him develop into a strong and confident boy.
No matter what your circumstances, you have to make taking care of you a priority, you owe it to your family, but most importantly you owe it to yourself. Keep your cup filled, because no matter how hard you try you can't pour from an empty cup, it's just not possible.