“My happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself.”- Michelle Obama
When we practice self-care, we teach our daughters to do the same. Our daughters are learning self-care by watching us. Historically, women’s needs have been suppressed and culturally, it was our role and responsibility to selflessly nurture those around us. This taught us to put others first and leave our needs for last. We, in essence, ignore what we need to help us live optimally. Therefore, it’s especially important that we model self-care for our daughters, so they don’t fall into the ways of the past.
Being a mother to two beautiful children is my greatest accomplishment. Not my medical degree, or the awards I have won, or the business I started and a whole host of other accolades; but the fact that I breathed life into two amazing human beings who changed my life forever. They taught me what it means to love unconditionally, to protect someone at all costs, and to want more for someone than I wanted for myself.
Having a daughter brought me joy and a sense of responsibility for raising a young lady who is confident, strong, caring and intelligent. A recent study from the University of Georgia found that, the mother-daughter relationship is the most important family dynamic that determines a girl's future relationship skills and self-esteem. When mothers are overly critical, their daughters are more likely to have poor social skills and unhealthy attitudes toward eating, compared with girls with more supportive moms.
I wanted to be supportive and say all the right things that would provide her with the necessary tools to develop a strong sense of herself, to build healthy relationships with others and know the importance of self-care. I became aware that being a mom was not only about providing her with unconditional love, but also respecting her opinions, providing boundaries, communicating effectively and being open to change.
I realized early on that my daughter was watching me. She observed the way I dressed, my mannerisms, the relationships I had with others, my own fears and anxiety. She watched how I cared for myself and how I allowed others to treat me. I wanted to make sure she was receiving positive messages, so I started to listen for the underlying meaning in our talks and learned the importance of being present.
My daughter taught me the importance of self-care. My own exhaustion and burnout was recognized by her. She showed me that self-care is important by making me realize that I could not be fully present for her while I was drained and fatigued. She helped me find the balance I needed to be great mom, wife, and career woman. I began to take time out for me so that I could have the life I wanted for myself and for her.
The practice of self-care and taking time to cater to your needs teaches others how to treat you. It shows them that you value taking time for yourself and also that they should respect your ‘me-time.’ Developing these habits for yourself and changing the narrative for how women should care for themselves and others, gives our daughters a solid foundation for adopting and practicing healthy habits. This in turn will lead to lower rates of stress, anxiety, health problems and strained relationships.
It’s critical to develop a routine of self-care. Your self -care routine should be specific to your wants and needs. My practice includes meditation, prayer, walks, massages and reading. It includes preventive check-ups, volunteering in my community and spending time with family. My children, especially my daughter, remind me to have fun and to find that inner child who liked to be spontaneous, adventerous, and dance when there is no music—all things that made her feel joyous and free.
I can’t tell you how to practice self-care, but it should include taking time to rest, exercise, eat healthy and have fun. In return, you will enhance your immune system, reduce stress, control your weight, increase your energy and improve your mood. Teaching our daughters these lessons early on allows them the opportunity to practice and develop healthy habits that will last forever.
Ready to develop a self-care action plan and be a positive role model for your daughter? Register for my video training series The 3 Steps To Pulling The Balance Back Into Your Life.