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Why self-care makes you feel guilty and 5 ways to overcome it

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I see my busy mum clients struggling with taking care of themselves. The biggest reason is because they always put others first. That’s their role right? 

What if I was to say that to be able to support others, you need to take care of yourself first, what would you say?

Taking care of others starts with taking care of yourself. It’s a very overused example but it makes the point brilliantly. I recently flew out to Ibiza for a yoga retreat. Before take off the air hostess gave out instructions about how to put on an oxygen mask. Did she say put the mask on your loved ones first? No, she said put it on yourself first and then help someone else.

As a self-care coach and someone who is fascinated by what triggers our thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, I’m super interested in why so many busy working mums feel guilty about taking time for themselves. Even when they know that it would actually have a positive effect on how their day goes – i.e. on their work, and on their interactions with their loved ones.

So let’s look in more detail about why self-care makes you feel guilty and then what to do about it.

1. Because I always have to be on the go – that’s what being a mum is?

As a mum you are the taxi driver, nurse, costume maker, event organiser, PA, bread-winner, business owner, cook, cleaner, dog walker and do-er-of-all-things no-one else wants to do. 

With all these different roles that you play, there will always be more ‘to-dos’ to add to your list and most of the time you love juggling all these balls in the air and get things done. It’s truly amazing what you accomplish every day. I reckon that with these skills you could run a multi-million pound business empire. But as the CEO of your family, who’s in your management team? Do you have the same level of support as the ‘captainesses’ of big businesses? Does anything make it to a ‘to-don’t’ list because I am taking some time for me?

2. Because I have to earn the ‘right’ to have some ‘me time’ once everything else has been done

Maybe the ‘me-time’ will come when we’re on holiday. But wait, it would have to be an all-inclusive holiday otherwise there will still be cooking and cleaning to do.

This is something that my clients have talked to me about in 1:1 sessions. I would love to encourage you to reframe this belief and see self-care not as a reward or a luxury which you earn like house points for doing good work or following the rules, but as a necessity that sustains you and helps you to take good care of your well-being. 

3. Because there’s always something more important to do for other people – my kids, my partner, my parents, my partner’s parents, the list goes on

Unfortunately there will always be things to do and that will never change, particularly as our beloved parents get older and need more of our support. 

But I would encourage you to invest some time in valuing you, yes I’m speaking to you, a little more highly and put your wants and needs further up your ‘to do’ list. I would love to see ‘taking some me-time’ above cleaning the house, washing up, and loading the washing machine on your list of daily ‘to dos’. Could you sneak in a 5 minute self-care activity before you do one of these chores? Rest assured, they will still be there after you have put your feet up for a few minutes. Or perhaps someone else in the house could lend a hand?

How is this sounding? How much of this is resonating for you?

4. Because self-care is ‘selfish’

How could you possibly put your feet up for 5 minutes (can I stretch this to 20 minutes because you really do deserve this time but you may not be feeling ready yet, so I want to start small and build up).

Self-care really isn’t selfish, it’s the opposite. Trust me. A definition I love, which I have hanging on my wall is: ‘Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness’. 

5. Because you also own your own business or work for someone else

Sometimes work may get in the way of spending time with your kids, so self-care definitely can’t be added on top, what kind of mum would that make you?

Yes, but I imagine the reason you are working is to give your kids the best start in life, be a great role-model and/or use your amazing skills to bring about positive change in the world. Self-care is still important – and probably even more so – especially if you have a stressful job. 

In summary, these are deep-rooted reasons which many busy working mums like you may believe. Your inner voice may be telling you on a regular basis they are justifiable reasons for not taking more time to care for yourself because this voice is just trying to keep you safe. Although I don’t think it has your well-being in mind though

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. You are doing a brilliant job of putting other people first and that makes you happy right?

Although can I ask you if you are feeling as happy as you could possibly be right now?

Are there any tiny feelings of resentment bubbling under the surface about the fact that you always put others first and have no time to just be you?

Are you curious about how you could start feeling good about taking more care of yourself every day – starting with just 5 minutes? 

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Hi, I’m Louisa Daubney and I’m your Time Design Coach

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