During this tremendously busy time in my life – running a large household, two children, a partner, tour groups, bed and breakfast and a business, it was so easy to neglect myself. As I saw it, there were simply not enough hours in the day anyway, why bother with me?
As I got showered and dressed in the morning, I did not look at myself in the mirror, except to brush my hair. No make-up, no skin care, no hair dryer – I just went out with my hair wet to do the daily errands. I dressed in flat shoes, black, navy or black every day.
I scurried about doing the bank, post and supermarket errands without looking up from the ground. I sent a clear non-verbal message with my posture that I did not wish to engage.
How I looked seemed to make no difference to how my children, partner, customers or community colleagues related to me. I now realise that it did make a difference – a difference on how I thought about myself .
What Comes First?
I have thought long and hard about the roots of this flawed thinking and have come to the conclusion that it stems from the nature of one’s self-esteem training in the very early years. I can hear you all say, “Self- esteem training in the early years – I don’t remember getting any of that?!”
Experts say, success breeds confidence, not the other way around. This is why it is vital to set children up for a successful experience and the confidence will blossom accordingly.
But what comes first? The self-esteem and then a healthy attitude to self-image and self-care or the other way around? How do you as an adult correct your own flawed thinking? Moreover, how could I instill a healthy self-esteem in my 11 year-old daughter? I confess, that in the beginning I did the things below for her benefit, not my own. But imperceptibly, over time, I began to stop feeling guilty about doing them and began to look forward to them.
Modelling the correct behaviour yourself is most important in influencing children. I had to begin to show positive images of me caring for myself. No more going out of the house with wet hair. Make-up and skin care were back on the daily schedule. I tried to introduce more colour and variety into my wardrobe. I made sure my shoes and bags where clean and in good repair.
Setting her up for self-care, self-image success – From time to time I give her little gifts of cupcake shaped and delicious smelling soaps, I have provided a shoe shine box, so she had a special spot to clean her school shoes daily, I make sure her school uniform is not missing buttons, stained or the hem down.
Put a self-care routine in place – this may include mother/daughter friday night face pack/facials, DIY hot oil hair treatments, bubble baths or massages.
Occasional Self-care or pampering treats – About once every two months when I get my hair cut and foiled, I ask her if she would like a hair conditioning treatment. She has very long hair, so this is not only beneficial for reducing knots, she adores the pampering and for a week afterwards we can marvel at how soft it is. I recently treated her to a full-body remedial massage at the day spa I have my membership at. That went over extremely well.
Most importantly, I want her to know what it feels like when you treat yourself well and to be treated well by others – and that it is important not to rely on others to make you feel good.
I’d love to know what other mother’s experiences are on this topic?