The gift of self-care: A Mother’s Day lesson to teach your kids

No matter what their age

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, a day to appreciate moms for all they do for us. From giving birth to putting their children’s needs ahead of their own, moms are often the single most important factor in the quality of life for their children.

Sometimes, however, a mother’s selflessness can lead children to conclude that self-care is wrong—or, at the least, a luxury to be considered when all of the more important priorities have been addressed. In honor of Mother’s Day and all caregivers everywhere, I want to advocate for the opposite: Self-care is job #1. Without it, no other jobs are possible.

I’ve long advocated for the importance of self-care in achieving overall health and happiness. Beyond the notion of skincare routines and spa days lies a fundamental principle that mothers and caregivers would do well to model for their children—the practice of self-care as a cornerstone of well-being.

Ultimately, self-care is not about pampering oneself; it’s about recognizing and honoring our own needs, nurturing our bodies, minds, and spirits, and cultivating habits that promote vitality and resilience. It’s about setting boundaries, prioritizing rest, and nourishing ourselves from the inside out. And perhaps most importantly, it’s about teaching our children that their worth is not contingent upon their productivity or achievements, but rather on their ability to love and care for themselves unconditionally.

Mothers are often the primary caregivers, the ones who selflessly tend to the needs of their families day in and day out. But in doing so, they can neglect their own well-being, putting their own needs on the back burner. This pattern can perpetuate a cycle of burnout, stress, and ultimately, compromised health.

That’s why it’s crucial for mothers to lead by example and demonstrate the importance of self-care to their children, no matter how old they are. Feeding oneself well, taking time to exercise and to rest, “indulging” in favorite activities, social outings, and creative pursuits, and practicing mindfulness and gratitude are essential acts of self-care. They not only have a profound impact on our overall health and happiness, but they also teach our children the foundations of health and happiness, as well.

As American theologian Parker Palmer wrote, “Self-care is never a selfish act; it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

In other words, by prioritizing our own self-care, we create a ripple effect that extends far beyond ourselves, influencing those around us to prioritize their own well-being and fostering a culture of health and vitality.

As we celebrate the remarkable women in our lives for Mother’s Day, let’s also embrace self-care as a gift. It’s a gift we give not only to ourselves but to future generations. And no matter our age, the lessons of self-love and self-care are ones we can carry with us for a lifetime, passing them on to our children and grandchildren.


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