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parenting sacrifices

Parenting Requires Sacrifice

Once we have children, there are a lot of freedoms we sacrifice. We give up our sleep, our work, and our basic control over our days when they are infants. It’s hard to find balance. As our children grow, there are other things we give up, including, for some women, working life, self-care, and personal dreams.

sacrifice-parentingThere is a strong current still out there of the old “ideal” of the self-sacrificing mother.

Messages tell us that it is selfish to value ourselves highly, that our children’s needs and wants are always more important than our own.  Especially if we’ve practiced any kind of Attachment parenting (which has many benefits, don’t get me wrong), we bump up against this idea of the exalted self-sacrificing mother.

Is It Really So Exalted?

The rarely-discussed underbelly of the self-sacrificing mom is low self-worth.

As human beings, we all want to be of value, but if you are sacrificing your well-being, you may be disregarding your inherent self-worth to find value only through your children. This is not only a huge disservice to the light within you and the contributions you can make to the world, but it is also harmful to your children.

As parents we teach by example. We know that how we live day-to-day teaches our children far more about our values than what we say. When children see a mom who does not practice self-care, who has no fulfillment outside of caring for them, they learn that model. They do not learn to love themselves, they do not see a model who  follows her dreams. They do not see an example of a woman who knows she is worthy.

Self-care = Self-love

parenting sacrifices

We all know the lesson of putting on our own oxygen mask first, but do we practice that? Oxygen to parents like self-care and meaningful goals and contributions should not always be shunted aside. Our children need to learn from our example how to value themselves and care for themselves so that they can live healthy and fulfilled lives.

self-care and self-love

Often it is hard to understand that we cannot give what we do not have. If we do not encourage our own light to shine at it’s brightest, we are offering our children a meager version of ourselves.

If it has been allowed to dim, how do you start shining your own light?

Begin with taking care of yourself. Create a daily practice that is nourishing to your mind, body, and spirit. In my work, I help clients create a yoga habit, but your practice can include other healthy movement plus a bit of time for stillness and reflection.

Practice observing your thoughts and shifting your negative self-talk into words that are caring and kind. Place reminders around your house that uplift you and remind you to nourish your self-worth. Let go of the need to please everyone. Start to ask for help. Carve out time for yourself and enjoy it without guilt.

It’s about balance

As with all things, this is about balance. There are times to put others needs before our own, and that is healthy. But it shouldn’t be all the time. The middle path is the hardest to walk, and it takes a good dose of self-awareness. But with a self-care practice we can build that self-awareness, growing and learning. We are always changing whether we realize it or not. Start to be intentional about where you put your energy and how you grow.

In my work, I see that when we as parents are healthy and thriving, we not only become more vibrant contributors to our worlds, but we also become better parents because we are grounded in self-worth. Give your children the gift of your own self-care.

Hunter Clarke-Fields

Hunter Clarke-Fields

Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE, RYT, helps conscious mamas bring out their most vibrant and peaceful selves to meet the challenges and joys of life from a grounded and connected place. Hunter is a conscious living expert who specializes in re-connecting women with their strength, inner power, calm and ease through yoga and mindfulness practices.

36 comments

Leave a Reply to Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell Cancel reply

  • I love my kids dearly, but sometimes I feel like I need to get away from them. Sounds mean, but I just need a weekend now and then to have a bit of me time and peace and quiet. I am lucky to be able to do this, I know. When I come back I always feel like a new person who is ready to take on the troops again.

    • You are not selfish Nicola. In order to be a better mom, wife and person. We HAVE to take breaks. We take a vacation from work that is only (normally) 9-5 Monday to Friday and can’t wait for it. Yet, we feel guilty taking a ‘vacation” from a job that is 24/7/365. I love my kids too. But I love me as well.

  • Those are some really excellent points. It is important that we take care of ourselves, and yet it is so hard to do. My little guy is nearing 3 and I have recently noticed a shift where he is becoming more independent, so I am now better able to get things done and even find a little me time. It’s very nice!

  • As a mother, we definitely have to sacrifice many things. There are definitely times when I want to be able to do the things that I want instead of the things that my kids want. But, i wouldn’t change it for the world, my kids are the loves of my life.

  • I am a mother. To four beautiful amazing children. That like he said there’s a lot of times when I put on all of their oxygen masks first and somehow when the kerfuffle have lost mine. Putting myself first has been so incredibly hard to try to do but I’m doing it one day at a time.

  • I’m not a mother, but what you said here is FABULOUS! I know that it’s a conversation I’ve had with my sister, who has 4 wonderful kiddies, and was slowly but surely ‘giving up’ her own passions and personality, it’s a fine line you ladies walk. I really love this post, great job.

    • Thanks, Rita, and all the others who commented for the wonderful feedback! Helping women value themselves and connect in a healthy way with their bodies is a passion for me. Sometimes it’s so hard to stay grounded and we aren’t taught how.

  • We as moms definitely need to balance and take care of ourselves. I think it’s important if you are a single mom and also if you are married since you don’t want to forget about being a wife. For me, my goal has been to be a wife and mom so there aren’t any dreams I feel I’ve had to give up or sacrifices I’ve made in terms of any career.

  • I totally agree with you about taking care of yourself. It’s a hard thing to as a parent and I’m learning each day how important it is. You want to give you’re all to your kids and family but by doing so you forget about yourself

  • Really excellent article. One more thing: the job of “parent” never ends. I know people who are still supporting their “kids” who are still into their 50’s. If you are not prepared to support that kid financially and emotionally until the day you die, don’t even think about it. Rent the movie “Parenthood” and you will get a realistic idea of what you might face.

  • I love this post. Most of the time as parents we tend to put ourselves last but we need to remember that we need to take care of ourselves as well, in all aspects. If we don’t do that then we can’t properly take care of our loved ones.

  • I just love this post. So very true. You must love & take care of yourself so you can love & take care of others. So many parents forget that. You are not helping your children if you are sick, depressed, worn out … they learn what they see 🙂 When my is happy & healthy the entire family is happy & healthy.

  • This is something I really struggled with when my son was younger, and went for far too long without taking good care of myself. It’s hard to find that balance.

  • I think that’s how it is when you become a parent, I’ve seen it on my sister. It’s not as easy as I thought, it requires a lot of sacrifices but that doesn’t mean we should not take care of ourselves. It’s all about balance 🙂

  • Thanks so much for this. I really needed today specifically. I’ve been feeling blue about being the type of Mom I am today, (I’ve not been very happy today) and it was really irritating to get some negative feedback from my Sister in law who just had a baby. So reading something positive about mother’s in general was really uplifting to me.

  • I’m so glad that I had an opportunity to read this post. A lot of the time, I feel guilty about taking time for me. I feel like I’m a bad mother if I don’t always put my kids first. I felt guilty this weekend, when we shipped my three kids off to my in-laws in order to go away for a weekend for our anniversary (with our 3 month baby in tow). But you’re right – I need to allow myself to think of me, so in return, I can be a better mother. Thanks, Shannon @ http://www.mamamusing.ca

  • I have been putting others before my own for most of my life and I have decided that 2014 will be my year. Of course this doesn’t mean that I will stop caring for my children or making my priority, but this time I will take as much time on me as I do on them. After 29 years of being about others it is about time I do something for me.

  • I think we do need to recharge ourselves. It is hard to find that balance. I find myself trying to do things for myself but then I feel guilt for not using that time to spend with my kids. I know I need it but I also know that it is important for me to show sacrifice for my girls too! Great Article!

  • I struggle with all of these mom problems. I am starting to learn again how to take care of myself. It took a melt down and doctors to help me. I’m still working on making me important, it sure is hard when you have little hands and feet needing you all of the time!

  • On vacation once, we did everything everyone else wanted. The one little thing I wanted to do never happened and I went home grumpy. But, it was my own fault. I never spoke up! Now everyone in our family gets to contribute to our vacation planning — including me — and we have a lot more fun. 🙂

  • What a great reminder to recharge as parents. As a WAHM who homeschools, I seldom have time without my children. I really need to work on it because I notice that it makes a huge difference when I do it.

  • O yes it does, but thats part of parenting & I never mind that I have to sacrifice when it comes to parenting, I always put my self last, & my oldest say mommy what about you & I tell her as long as you all are ok I’m fine. Great Post

  • That’s something I really need to address for myself. I always come last and sometimes I have to make sure that for everyone’s sanity that I give myself some “me” time to renew and refresh so I can be a better Mom.

  • About Author

    Hunter Clarke-Fields

    Hunter Clarke-Fields

    Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE, RYT, helps conscious mamas bring out their most vibrant and peaceful selves to meet the challenges and joys of life from a grounded and connected place. Hunter is a conscious living expert who specializes in re-connecting women with their strength, inner power, calm and ease through yoga and mindfulness practices.

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