As moms, we are naturally wired to serve the members of our village, specifically our babies. While functioning in this capacity and having cultural norms as the driving force for our methods of operation, we unconsciously lose sight of our own needs. I hate to break the news to you but IT IS NEVER OK TO NEGLECT YOURSELF. The reality is, as mothers, we trick ourselves into believing that we are winning as a result of serving everyone else. However, our unspoken truth is often that we are actually overwhelmed, unproductive, and ineffective.
Before Learning to Say, “NO!”
I remember getting caught in a routine of making sure that everyone else was great while my needs went unmet. I would (and still do in this season) work a long day investing in someone else’s dreams, pick up my daughter (only 1 at the time), walk in the house, and immediately start to serve in my other role, Mommy. Sadly, I would not even take a moment to change into something more comfortable. Instead, I would get my daughter settled and begin preparing dinner in my work clothes.
When dinner was ready, I would serve everyone else first then maybe I would eat. Honestly, I was so exhausted some days that I wouldn’t even have the energy to fix my own plate. I wouldn’t focus on myself until my daughter was in bed and at that point, the only thing worth doing most nights was to finally shower or change into pajamas and collapse into bed. Say it with me now, “U-N-H-E-A-L-T-H-Y AND N-E-G-L-E-C-T-F-U-L!”
Common Boundary Issues and Strategies
As my children have gotten older, I am still discovering new ways in which these children try to sabotage my peace and self-care (haha), but I am not having it. I encourage all moms to take a stand and take back their self-care and wellness. Below are a few very simple, yet necessary, responses to some of our children’s actions that leave us taking away from ourselves.
Make sure that you set expectations and stick to them. Seconds are requested only after you are done eating unless there is an available adult or appropriately older sibling to prepare their second helping. If there is someone else available, they should ask the suitable family member. This will ensure that you get a full meal without interruption.
When you are on the phone, you should not be interrupted unless the house is on fire, someone is hurt, or your cars/home are in danger. If it’s none of these, it can wait. Mamas, just make sure you aren’t talking for an hour or longer without checking on your babies.
This is at least 15 minutes that you are devoting to yourself. Have a discussion with your child(ren) so they will know what this will look like for you and them. Set a timer in the children’s area and allow them to choose their activity during this time. A major win happens when they play beyond the timer’s notification. At that point, enjoy your additional Mama Time!
These might seem like simple things, but oftentimes we do the opposite. No matter the conditions, circumstances, or setting, there comes a time when we must say “no”. As mothers, we have been programmed to believe that saying, “yes” empowers us and reveals our awe-inspiring strength. Truthfully, saying “no” offers us an even greater sense of empowerment as people and as mothers. Having appropriate boundaries benefits both mom and child. Our children learn from the care we give ourselves and in turn they learn to adequately nurture themselves.
Affirmation by Joí Iman Gresham
“Saying ‘no’ is an act of empowerment and a commitment to self. It is evidence that I value my mental, emotional, and physical health.”