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The “Great Mum” Myth: How to Truly be the Best Mum for your Kids

ParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting

Mamas, it’s time to banish the mum guilt! There’s nothing wrong with taking a little “me time” every once in awhile – you deserve it! Transformational speaker Kate McKay tells us why looking after yourself is the most important parenting task of all… 

Every mum out there wants to truly earn the title of, “World’s Greatest Mum.” And every mum is afraid they’ll fall short. As a single mother of three children, I completely understand what it’s like to be afraid that you’ll never measure up. You probably feel as though you barely have enough hours in the day to address all your kids’ needs and you want to show up for them so badly you could hardly care less about your own — am I right?

I think that, increasingly, there’s an ideal that mums expect themselves to live up to the “great mum” who ferries her kids to school and sports/dance/music lessons, helps with homework and school projects, and bakes cupcakes for the bake sale, all while making a home-cooked meal every night. It’s easy to see why we aspire to be this “great mum”; after all, it’s our duty as a parent to show up for our children in the best way possible. However, we’ve become so attached to our idea of the perfect mum that we think we have to sacrifice everything or else we’re a terrible parent. I’m here to tell you: that isn’t the case! The key to being the best mum you can be is actually in taking care of yourself while you take care of your kids.

Taking time for your mental, spiritual and physical well-being teaches your children to do the same. Right now, you’re their caretaker, but — and don’t go crying on me, now! — that won’t always be the case. When they grow up and are on their own for the first time, you want them to live with enthusiastic self-care. To do that, they have to learn from a model: you. As mothers we have a fantastic opportunity to care for our children for the rest of their lives, by modeling for them how best to take care of themselves now, so that they never forget it!

As a mother, I know it’ll be difficult to give your needs priority. When mummy-guilt threatens to hang over our heads, even taking out time to go to a simple yoga class can seem impossible. But you don’t have to worry: chances are that you’re already putting your kids first at least 98% of the time. Unless there’s an emergency, or some temporary circumstance that requires all your attention, you can carve out that time for yourself without worrying. Plus, think about the benefits: what does yoga give you? It’s a great form of exercise, it may make you feel more centered and balanced, and it’s a good stress reliever for many people. Think of the positive effects of the activities you love, but don’t often make time for — it’s likely that these effects will truly benefit you. Don’t feel guilty about hiring a sitter and having a fun, relaxing movie night with your best friend if it means you’ll be able to really show up for your mom duties for the rest of the week. To me, that’s totally an example of being a great mom!

When we listen to our own needs and address them in a loving fashion, our children learn to treat themselves well. So, care for yourself: fuel your body with nutritious food and incorporate exercise into your routine—even if it’s only a few short workouts per week. Follow your passions. Make time for lunch with a friend; don’t be afraid to do things that make you happy, and don’t be afraid that you’re neglecting your children. After all, the best way to teach them to love and value themselves is to love and value yourself.

The idea that being the “great mum” who sacrifices everything for her children is the only way to being a truly great parent is a myth that needs to be laid to rest. I always do my best to model self-care so that my children know how to practice it. That is truly the way to be the best mum for your kids.

Main image via Shutterstock

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