We teach our children that being selfish is not nice. “Share your toys with your sister!” “Give someone else a turn!” “Be generous!” But is being selfish all that bad?
My daughter is an only child. When she was very young, sharing was a huge challenge for her. Frustrated by her unwillingness to “play nicely”, I spoke with a friend who told me that being “selfish” is not always a bad thing. She pointed out that a reasonable degree of “selfishness” gives children a stronger sense of self. It heightens their awareness of who they are and what is important to them and it allows them to stand up for their needs, wants, and desires. Letting a child exercise a little selfishness does not mean freeing their inner narcissistic, egotistical tyrant, but it means giving them a reasonable amount of “me” time and making it okay to do so. So I listened to the advice of my friend and decided to experiment with this “no sharing” thing. It was a little weird at a play date to announce that it was okay for my daughter not to share, but looking at selfishness a little differently made the decision easier. Besides, I was instilling value of "the world does not revolve around you” and teaching her the importance of being sensitive to the needs of others. Fortunately, the “no sharing” experiment did not destroy my daughter’s life and I now have a very self-confident, well-adjusted nine year old. She is very astute and diplomatic about setting personal boundaries yet she remains sensitive and highly responsive to others. She is by no means a perfect child, but I am happy with how she evolved.
Drawing parallels to motherhood, I believe moms who exercise a reasonable and responsible degree of selfishness make better caregivers. Euphemistically speaking, a little bit of “me” time does a mom good! Being a little “selfish” helps us set boundaries, gives us a stronger sense of self, and allows us to remain empathetic and responsive to those we care for. Most importantly, “me” time keeps us connected to our whole self, not just our role of mother. Here are four things moms should find “me” time for:
Regular exercise. Exercise helps to reduce stress, keeps you in great shape, and gives you more energy, a rare commodity for moms. Motherhood is a tough, demanding, and arduous job and every bit of energy helps. All moms should make “me” time for exercise and movement!
Leisure and play. Even if it lacks extravagance, moms need time to themselves to enjoy life away from the kids. Too many mom make the mistake of making the children’s leisure time their leisure time. Engage in a hobby. Go get a manicure. Spend an afternoon with your girlfriends. Close the bedroom door and take a bubble bath. Do not wait until the kids leave the house. By then, you will forget who you really are outside of your role as mom and finding time for yourself will be even harder.