Taking Care of Ourselves While Taking Care of Others

Taking Care of Ourselves While Taking Care of Others

I recently talked to a great group of moms about the challenges and rewards of taking care of ourselves while caring for our children.  Many of us are living the role of caretaker.  We care for families, children, partners, elderly parents, patients, clients, pets, and more.  We accept the role because we are needed and because we can help.  We embrace the role because we want to care for those we love.  We take on the role because it is our job, our career, or our calling.  Some of us do so by choice, others by necessity.  Sometimes taking care of others gets in the way of caring for ourselves.

There have been times when I have been so exhausted from juggling the responsibilities of motherhood and my professional life that finding the energy to take my vitamins out of the cupboard, let alone opening the bottles, feels like climbing a mountain.  Eating breakfast in the morning becomes a contact sport, as I juggle dressing my children, packing lunches and negotiating getting out the door to school; sometimes I just give up the battle and leave the house as the only one in the family who hasn’t had breakfast.  Exercise has to fit in between snow days, sick days, and everything else that needs to be done.  Am I the only mom who feels some nights like brushing my teeth is a luxury I can’t afford?

I recently kept a haircut appointment that took weeks to squeeze in my schedule while my son was at home with a stomach virus; yes, I chose to make myself a priority, and the mother’s guilt nearly killed me!

The group of moms I spoke to recently shared with me that finding time for themselves was tough, but giving themselves permission to find that time was even tougher.  Something that is already a challenge becomes an even greater challenge because we place judgment and criticism on top of it.  “It’s not my time, right now, to take care of myself.”  “My family needs me more.”   “I will eventually have time for myself, maybe in eighteen years.”

But what if we turn the situation on its head?  What if we understand that our children and families look to us as role models?  What if we discover that in making ourselves a priority, our families learn from us?  Imagine that by choosing to eat and prepare healthy, nourishing food, our children learn by example.  We may not see it reflected immediately in our young children’s food choices, but I have been assured it eventually pays off!

What if we discover that living an active, athletic, and vital life in front of our children results in children that embrace that lifestyle?  What if we learn that taking care of ourselves makes us better parents, makes us more patient, more loving, happier, and more fun to be around?  Studies show kids learn from our behaviors and use us as examples.  What great incentive to make ourselves a priority too!

And finally, what if we learn that by taking advantage of and grasping any opportunity to take care of ourselves, we grow and nurture our own sense of self-worth and self-esteem … that we catapult ourselves to greater heights of compassion, acceptance and love for ourselves.

Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourself.  Give yourself permission to be a vital, healthy example for those you take care of … and do it for yourself.





Author Bio

Dr. Jenn Krebs Rapkin, ND

Dr. Jenn Krebs Rapkin, ND

A licensed naturopathic physician in private practice for over a decade Dr. Jenn Krebs Rapkin trained, and now teaches, at University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine.  She developed and currently practices her own specialized Narrative Body Therapy and is the founder of A Mind-Body Practice, the only naturopathic medical practice in Connecticut to specialize in holistic and integrative mental health.  Dr. Rapkin writes regularly on the topics of health, wellness and mindfulness in her two blogs, The Mind-Body Blog and The Mommy Tune-up.

2 Comments

  1. Lauri Ericson - March 28, 2015

    Thanks Jenn, such a worthwhile topic as a I sit in Kenya, wondering if I should stay for 2 extra days for work and have Mats and Mika travel to the US without me. The heart sways widely. And I reflect on a conversation with had with a nanny that we hired in Kenya, who almost fell on the floor when Mats changed Mika’s diaper. In her context, African men do nothing – and women are expected to jump when they cough.

    Thanks for creating the forum for an open discussion around this. I frequently think about how to design my life so I am able to be a respected and thriving professional and mother who is able to stay home when her child is ill, or just needs support. Oh, and then there is exercise and writing – taking care of oneself.

    • Dr. Jenn Krebs Rapkin, ND
      Dr Jenn Krebs ND - March 30, 2015

      Lauri, Thank you so much for your thoughts. Yes, its such an important conversation to have. I can see from your posts and from knowing you that taking care of yourself is something that grounds you, as it does me, in this word. If I let it go, I feel unfocused and uncentered. It is something that keeps us connected to ourselves … so important, so vital!

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