Why "Me First" Means "We Win"


If you’re a mom, or you know one, you’ve heard the phrase, “Sleep when baby sleeps.”


My husband would tell me this daily after our son was born, and I just wanted to slap him every time he uttered the phrase. Like, gee, thanks for the offer… But I just can’t. I’ve gotta wash my hair, do laundry, find something to eat. He was used to those excuses from our dating tenure.


This morsel of advice has essentially become the Golden Rule for new moms, delirious from round-the-clock wake-ups, endless feedings and even more persistent diaper changes. The idea is to give yourself a break so you can keep going.


Personally, I know few moms who actually do this. I certainly didn’t. If you know anything about babies, you know that sleeping like one means, well, you’re not… Or you do for all of 15 minutes. My son slept 30 minutes flat for months – that’s not even time to sneak out of his room and climb into my own bed, let alone fall asleep.


Almost done with my second pregnancy, I fought this advice for months. With a busy toddler and a couple of businesses to run, nap time is just about as valuable a time as I can find to tidy up my to-do list for the day.


I thought I was doing something good for my family – the house was spotless, dinner was ready by 6, my loose ends for work were finished so everyone got my attention that evening… I was even getting my workouts in without sacrificing “their” time. (Don’t hate me – my kid takes long naps.)


You haven’t heard from me lately because I quit this charade. Call me lazy (just know the dangerous waters you’re treading), but I’ve been taking nap time seriously lately – by taking it.

It’s not so much that I need the nap, although as I edge closer to my due date I’m certainly not at my prime. But taking those hours to meet my own needs surprisingly turned into an even better thing for my family.


As women/moms, it seems we’re wired to give and give and give. It’s that nurturing instinct or something. Especially in today’s culture of “have all, be all,” we vanish into the murky waters of responsibility, and it’s easy to quickly lose sight of what’s really important.


We get worn down and emptied – which means we have very little, if anything, to actually offer our families, friends, professions and so forth.


Depending on how your day looks, napping just may not be realistic. But, that doesn’t mean taking time for yourself isn’t crucial. Seriously, call my bluff.


It’s frequent that I hear women tell me how badly they want (or need) to lose weight, eat better, be more active, etc. – but they can’t because the kids have this or husband has that or there’s this other commitment.


The reality is you can’t be there for your family if YOU’RE not there. Sure, that sentence could mean the impending health implications of not living a healthy life (aka shorter life, etc., which, let’s face it, sounds alluring some days!), but it’s more than that.


If you can’t keep up with your kids for lack of energy, what are you really giving them?


If you can’t enjoy (or won’t participate in) certain functions (like family photos) for lack of confidence, what memories are you making?


If you’re blue or anxious from stress and other imbalances, how enjoyable can you really be?


I don’t say this to shame you – I HAVE BEEN LIVING THIS FOR MONTHS! But, pulling the plug on certain things and saying no sometimes – while saying yes to me (within reason) – meant I was able to give more to those who I value most in this world… things they really needed, like love, encouragement, support, patience, etc.


Try it – spend a week saying “no” to a few things, while saying “yes” to others. You’ll have to figure out what to turn down in your own life, but Thursday I’ll share few ideas on how to make the arenas of exercise, nutrition, housework and friendships more realistic in your week.

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