Erica Ehm Exposed!


Why Moms Don't Take Care of Themselves

What Your Kids Want to Tell You

by: Erica Ehm

One of the most common challenges of being a mom is often not having enough hours in the day. We make time to squeeze in our kids' extra-curricular activities, grocery shop for healthy foods they will eat, make their doctors and dentist appointments, and help them with homework. Many of us are racing off to jobs outside the home. Then, when there is down time, most of us opt to spend it with our families. As my friend Shannon M. said so eloquently, "in the long-term scheme of things, we really only have our kids at home with us (or even wanting to be with us) for a small amount of time, a tiny dot on the full yard stick of life."

While I completely relate to this sentiment, it comes at a cost. Here's a common scenario being played out in homes from coast to coast: exhausted moms devoting time and energy to raising amazing kids by putting ourselves on the bottom of the To-Do list. 

I'm not imagining this. Becel surveyed 1,000 moms and 70 per cent of Canadian mothers who responded said they didn't rank themselves among their top three priorities. In fact, while they say they don’t have enough time, over one quarter (29%) have spent hours making a hand-made Halloween costume. Over one quarter (28%) have stayed up all night baking goods for a school bake sale! Ack! This is disturbing, when you consider how many kids lose their mothers to heart disease and stroke, a leading cause of death for women in Canada. In fact, one in three Canadian women, die of heart disease and stroke. 

I can recite the inner monologue so many of us have said so often, we've memorized the script: "There just wasn't time to go to yoga. I'll do it tomorrow. I had to take (insert child's name) to his swim lessons. I didn't really want to work out anyway. Besides, who will help with the kids? They need me. When the kids are older I'll get back into it. Oh, and I really have to stop putting off that doctor's appointment again and get that weird cough checked out."

I wish that I could whisper in the ear of every mom who is not taking care of herself to let her know that by making healthy lifestyle choices, she can reduce her risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 80%. 

Need some more persuading to put your needs first sometimes? Please watch this very sweet video featuring a bunch of adorable kids who have some very wise words for you. *Warning* It may make you cry, but in a good you-need-to-hear-it way. 

Yes, it's true that kids really need us. But, you may be surprised at what the things children really want their parents to do with them actually are. 

When I launched this site six years ago, it was to connect with the community of moms, and understand why we seem to have inherited a gene for mother-guilt. It is a fascinating discussion I continue to have both online and off. While I do notice a subtle shift in the momosphere in terms of carving out some time for ourselves, the majority of us struggle finding an hour or two for self-care; time we need to spend getting our hearts pumping and our bodies sweating.

My friend Tracy T. is a busy mom of two, and was very candid when she shared how she's feeling these days. "I feel I am first to do something for everyone but last to myself. It just reason. I feel other things/people are more important I guess."

Tamara P. is pretty blunt about those of us who make excuses for taking care of ourselves. "Guilt can be a crutch, an excuse. When I see women who choose their kids over themselves I tend to see some very unhappy moms. They "wish" they had time for themselves yet they coddle their kids and spouses into being so dependent on them that they have no choice BUT to cater to their every need."  That may or may not be you, but it does make you think.

I love how my friend Danielle C. is rejigging her priorities.

"My wake-up call to take better care of myself happened last October when I turned 39 (my mom didn't make it to that age.) I was afraid if I didn't take better care of myself I wouldn't be here for my girls. I now have my health under the care of specialists. I found moms to trade sitting with so I can make the appointments. It's good for them to see that mom is making sure she is ok." 

So how do you start to take care of you? "It's about balance, tag-teaming, and calling on the Village to help when you need a break," says Susie P., my mom pal in Winnipeg.

Tamara L. recently had a major epiphany and is making some changes! "I love my kids, but I am going to start loving myself again too and start making sure I go to the art gallery/play/band/travel destination/gym instead of the hockey game because that's what feeds me, and it's something I want to do. Ironically, the kids *got* it right away.... And adjusted nicely. The biggest/hardest shift was within myself!"

This is such an important message to share with other moms! According to the Becel survey, over half (56%) of Canadian moms surveyed said they would be more likely to spend more time to take care of themselves if another mother encouraged them to do so. We need to remind each other that it's ok, actually essential, to occasionally put ourselves at the top of the To-Do list.

My friend Sharon did that for me. Her gentle reminders that I need to walk away from the computer and get moving prompted me to start running again. I think of her everytime I jump on my treadmill for my half hour jog.

If there are women you know who need a gentle reminder to do some exercise, visit the doctor, eat a healthy lunch, take a yoga class, please share this video with them. Hopefully it will ignite a tiny spark and subtly shift their priorities.

In the end, your kids will thank you.

Encourage a Mom to take care of herself today! 

In its role as founding sponsor of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, Becel wants to empower moms and encourage them to prioritize their own health and well-being as much as they do for others.

To help spread this important message, Becel made this amazing video:

You can go to the Becel website to easily personalize and send the video to moms in your life to remind them to take care of themselves too!

Encourage a Mom today!

She’ll thank you for it. And so do we!