“Prioritize my health. Take care of me first.” These are phrases, that to most mothers seem selfish and/or impossible. After becoming a mother most women begin to slowly neglect their own desires and needs in an effort to provide for their children. The result – emotional overwhelm, exhaustion, resentment, slowed progress, lack of energy, increased health problems, and so much more. What is important for women to understand is that taking care of yourself first, actually makes you a better mom.

When You Put Yourself Last

Women who neglect self-care for the sake of their children are actually doing their families a total disservice. When you stop caring for your appearance, taking care of your hygiene, eating, exercising, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to enjoy life and unwind, your emotional and physical wellbeing are at risk. Many overwhelmed mothers struggle with a range of problems from weight gain and insomnia to depression and addiction. They eventually burn out and need to work with a therapist or enroll in a women’s recovery center to overcome their challenges.

In the meantime, your children are watching you, absorbing this information, and applying it to their own lives. You’re not focused, your temper is short, and the kids are often the ones that suffer. For women who struggle with mental illness, isolation often causes them to miss out on a lot of quality time with their kids.

Benefits of Practicing Self-Care as a Mom

Now that you see what happens when you don’t practice self-care as a mom, let’s take a closer look at the benefits if you do.

Your Physical Health Improves

Women who neglect self-care will eventually find that their physical health is not as it once was. From limited exercise or poor eating habits, they often struggle with their weight which can lead to a number of long-term and life-threatening diseases and illnesses. They also experience limited energy and extreme fatigue.

Doing things like eating a well-balanced diet and exercising lead to improved physical health. You reduce your risk of serious disease and illness and regain the strength, energy, and stamina you need to get through each day.

Your Mental Health Improves

Your emotional wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. Women who do not take care of their minds find that life gets a lot more challenging. From mood swings and short tempers to chronic stress and depression, they suffer and ultimately, so do their children.

Learning how to manage the stress in your life, coping when times are difficult, and how to do things that you enjoy can greatly improve your emotional health. When you’re in a better mood this reflects on your family.

Sets a Positive Example

Remember, children are like sponges and they’re watching your every move. No matter how often you tell them something, it is your actions they pay the most attention to. When you begin to develop practices and routines that allow you to prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing, your children see this. They see how healthy you are and in a better position to enjoy life. As a result, they want to keep some of these same practices in their own lives remembering to put themselves first.

More Equipped to Be a Better Mom

Try being a mother with no energy, limited sleep, weight issues, emotional troubles, and a number of other physical and mental problems. Chances are, you wouldn’t last very long. You’re not able to complete all the responsibilities a mother often has and you’re not fully present in the lives of your children.

When you feel good inside and out, you’re more equipped to be a better mother to your children. You have the energy, physical capabilities, and emotional willpower necessary to navigate the often windy road of parenting.

Putting yourself first when it comes to your overall wellbeing isn’t selfish at all. In fact, it is the best gift that you can give your children (and yourself). When you practice self-care by taking the time necessary to care for your body and mind, you’re in the best shape of your life to continue being the awesome mother your children need.

Guide created by Scottsdale Mental Health & Wellness