As a working mum, business owner, wife, and grandmother, I breathe deeply when I see a clock. I have this calendar of all the things I need to do, not miss out on and support. Does anyone know the feeling?
How about looking in the mirror and in horror, realising I have a beautiful grey hairline (COVID Isolation aside), I haven’t had my hair cut and coloured; I haven’t shaved my legs in the last week, and I look and feel exhausted. The final straw is when I am in the loo; not even my beautiful cat leaves me alone! Ladies, I know I am not the only one with days like this. In my busy life, I have realised that things get tougher as soon as I start slipping on my priority list. I am less happy, have less patience, don’t feel sexy (let’s face it), and I only realise my state when I have hit the wall and am lying in a heap feeling sorry for myself.
Why does prioritising ME feel like such a guilty pleasure? The answer can be simple or maybe just one to reflect on, and if you decide the time to prioritise you has arrived, you can decide to start doing things differently. Let’s check out a few things that might help:
1. Add ‘ME’ to the priority list
The only thing we can control in time is what we focus on and our priorities. So, it’s time to put ‘ME’ at the top of my priority list. Why? Simply put, you can’t give what you don’t have. Even cabin crew remind us in their safety demonstration, in the event of needing oxygen, put your mask on first, then help those around you. Choose you so that you can be better for those around you. Keeping it simple, small bites of time where you are fully present for yourself, doing things for you with patience and enjoying your time with you.
2. Ditch the GUILT of making ‘ME’ time
Guilt is an emotion that won’t serve us. It keeps us locked in that crazy exchange for love and acceptance. In my first marriage, I had a husband who kept telling me I was a bad mom to forget things any new mom might. I love my daughter; nowadays, we actually work together. I am a great mom. Yet, I bought into his judgement, and for years, I tried to prove that I was good enough. In my mind, that meant I didn’t get priority. I needed to provide (I was a single parent for a long while) and had to do my best. A few years ago, I realised I wasn’t able to prioritise myself because I was stuck in the “guilt and shame” of a false belief, and I was a prisoner of my mind. When I realised this, I decided to start a journal on remembering ME who I AM and WHY I deserve love from me. Even making time for this was daunting, yet it has been my rebirth and has helped me prioritise myself.
3. Ask for help; ask for what you need
When we realise we need time for ‘ME’, we might need help. Asking for help isn’t a weakness or selfish. When we don’t ask for what we need, we never get it. Sometimes we hope our prince or princess charming will read our mind and realise we need help with chores, kids etc. I have this analogy of yellow roses. I love yellow roses, yet I never clearly ask for them. Instead, every time my husband or kids give me flowers, I am grateful for the gesture, but I feel disappointed and restful that I am not understood. I even throw hints when I see yellow roses or walk past a florist. Eventually, my family stop giving me flowers because they think I don’t enjoy receiving them. What if I had the courage to ask when they give me flowers if they could be yellow roses. Yellow roses make me feel alive, bright; they make me feel loved. Let’s start asking for what we need. Our loved ones can’t read our minds, and they will be happy to help. If they struggle to help, this might be a wonderful opportunity to start having honest conversations.
4. Do things that make you come alive
Recently on social media, I ran a virtual reminder of self-care and, for 21 days, posted a self-care challenge. We can do many things that can help us feel more connected to who we are and practice self-care. Here are some tips:
- Order a paint by numbers kit (they are so much fun), and spending time painting is creative and relaxing.
- Read a book you have wanted to read for ages
- Create a pamper evening where you can take a long bubble bath, shave those legs, have a face mask and if you are like me, have Maya Angelou’s poetry performance in the background
- Watch a TV Show, one that you like
- Take a walk with a friend, share your heart, listen and practice connection (find someone who actually listens and cares about your thoughts)
- Sit on the beach (I love the Northern Beaches as we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, that’s my opinion). Put your toes in the sand and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Breath deeply and let all the fear, worry and anxiety run out of you.
- Start your REMEMBER ME journal and remind yourself of who you are, what you bring to this world and what you love. I would always add a bit of gratitude because it helps shift our mindset from negative to positive.
5. Say “no” and set boundaries
Have you ever said “no”? I haven’t met many mom’s that like to do this or do it well? We say yes to everything, and we end up feeling resentful and cranky. We overcommit, and eventually, we have taught everyone to need us and rely on us, and we have secretly told ourselves we don’t count. Our happiness is based on pleasing others. I have learnt to say “no,” and it’s been very hard for me. Saying “no” and setting boundaries is more than ok; it’s what we need to do, to be honest with ourselves and those around us. When we learn to do this better, we are real, kinder and actually more approachable. When we struggle with this, people can struggle to trust us and feel obligated to connect with us in certain ways. I want to be loved and appreciated for who I am, and I want to be my best self.
Finally, I work on prioritising myself every day. I know that I need to be kind to myself, spend time with me, understand me and learn to love me. When I do this, I can be empathetic to others, understand them, use my voice and know that I am bringing the best of me to the day. It’s possible; it’s worth it; what are you waiting for?
My Name is Christina Foxwell. I migrated to Australia 13 years ago with two small children (3 & 12). I had a dream that my kids could have a better future here, and I wanted them to feel they could achieve anything they set their minds to. My now-husband and I married in 2012, and we co-own our Performance Improvement Practice called Ignite Purpose. I am a performance coach, consultant, facilitator, speaker and author. I have a team of women who support me in making a difference in one person’s life a day so they can impact their world. My son also works in my practice part-time. We need to own who we are, be willing to GROW ME, set ourselves free to be our best. We are better together as humans who care for each other, stand together, and be kind to others. Even though my practice is a business focus, we believe it starts with growth in each person that impacts the success of a team and organisation. Our office is in Frenchs Forest, and we live in Seaforth. My practice is called Ignite Purpose. www.ignitepurpose.com.au