Women – why do we always put ourselves last on the list?

*I make sure my kids eat several servings of fruit and vegetables a day. You can’t have a cookie until you eat that banana. No Xbox if you don’t have that brocoli.  – But I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable. Not unless carrot cake counts.

* I am the Enforcer of Bedtime because it’s important for children to get a good night’s sleep. But if I go to bed at midnght, that counts as ‘early’ for me. If I get five hours of sleep a night, I count myself lucky. I am perpetually tired.

* I chase children outside “for fresh air and exercise” on a daily basis. Turn off that TV and go play/run around the block/weed the garden/jump on the trampoline… They need to move and groove to be healthy. But too many times, I will cancel my run/water walking/gym visit because I HAVE to cook dinner / supervise homework / clean the kitchen or even rearrange throw cushions on the sofa.A zillion other things take precedence over me getting ‘fresh air and exercise’. Most of those things involve house and family. Contrast this with the Hot Man. He can get up and go for an hour long run even though the house is a mess, there’s no food cooked and the laundry is piled up to the ceiling. Is it because he’s ‘lazy and doesn’t care’ about the housework? OR is it because, as he so frequently reminds me – ‘your health is more important than dirty dishes. The children and the house are fine. Forget all this and just GO FOR A RUN.

Which begs the question – why am I so good at taking care of my children, and so rotten at taking care of myself?

As women, we are often raised/taught to be the nurturers. The caregivers. The multi-tasking, multi-talented organizers of homes and families, not to mention workplaces, church groups and community organizations. On the list of priorities, we often place ourselves last. After partners, children, extended family and even pets, dishes, and an unscrubbed bathtub. Otherwise we feel guilty, like we are selfish creatures. The problem with this is that eventually, our bodies, minds and souls suffer. We are run-down, stressed out, overworked, out of breath, and what’s worse – we are seething with resentment as we brood upon all ‘all the sacrifices I’m making for this family/job/partner /church /goldfish’. When I’m exhausted and none of my clothes fit because I haven’t worked out in months – yes I hate myself. But I’m also angry at my children – for ‘making me’ fat in the first place with all the demands they place on my time. And annoyed with the Hot Man because he can go running oblivious to mess while I can’t. (and of course he’s the one who gave me all these kids in the first place…I used to rock with the body of a supermodel dammnit! Before these children destroyed it.) Yes, that’s right – it’s everyone else’s fault that I put them first on the list. Totally.

You want to know the crazy thing though? My husband and my children WANT me to exercise, sleep more and eat better. They WANT me to go watch a movie instead of cleaning out the pantry. Relax with a book instead of re-arranging their drawers. ‘Mum, did you go to the pool today? I think you should go now. Mum, what time did you go to sleep last night? Why don’t you go have a nap? We’ll take care of things…’ Why? They want me to bump myself further up on the Priorities List because when I am rested, energized, and fit – I am a happier, nicer woman. They love me and want me to be happy.

So why can’t I love myself enough to want the same thing?

Enough. This madness has got to stop. My gift to myself this Christmas is the gift of “selfishness”. Of love. I will love myself enough to start taking better care of me. More sleep. More ‘fresh air and exercise’. More balanced and regular meals.More down-time. I will re-arrange my list of priorities so that it better reflects how much my family loves me. And how much I need to love myself.

It starts now. The place is a mess with post-Xmas debris. Who knows what they will eat for dinner? But me? I’m going to have a nap. And when I wake up, I might go out and join Bella on the trampoline.

How about you? Where are you on YOUR list of priorities?

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7 comments

  1. Love this post! I was thinking about this as well. "Do as I say, don't do as I do" kind of thing. My priorities? Well, definitely on the very top of the list is my health. Getting daily exercise, cutting out (or cutting down on)all the 'bad' stuff and getting more fresh fruit and veges. Focusing on me because I am so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I was thinking of enrolling to do some more study this year but have decided to not do that but really focus on my health.

  2. Nice post Lani. I think that's a great christmas gift to yourself :). I totally agree with you – it's time for change. New year, new goals. Good for you 🙂 Oh and on a side note: I think it's about time I start doing a bit of the same ^. Happy Holidays!.

  3. It's as if you've read my thoughts. I feel the same way. I'm often so exhausted for doing things for everyone else that by the time I do have that "me" time, I'm too tired. I might just take your advice and start fitting myself into the priority list 🙂

  4. I have a ridiculous list of things I need to do around the house and for the kids. I also have a wonderful little list of things I "need" to make time for me to do. Read, crochet, blog, sleep, sleep, and more sleep. I'll try to actually get to that little list. I hope.

  5. I completely feel you on this one! I don't even have kids yet, but I'm still waaaay on the bottome of the list! I guess it's like you said, just in our nature! The last 3 months I've been trying so hard to lose weight and the one thing I told my husband was, if he loved me at all he'd support me…and "SUPPORT" meant helping with laundry if he sees it, cooking dinner if I'm running late, and even making up the water bottles when we're about to work out. He doesn't do it everytime, but he's definitely gotten better. I still feel guilty when I have to tell ppl to move meeting times back a half hour so that I can insure I get a workout in, but you know everything still works out! Schedule in that "me time" cuz you definitely deserve it!P.S. I found your blog after reading Telesa! I'm one of those crazy fans, who falls in love with a book and then wants to know EVERYTHING about the author!! Thanks for your blog…it's so down to earth and entertaining! Can't wait for the next book!!

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