Gwyneth Paltrow says that self care is the key to being a present parent, and she’s giving herself permission to relax now that her children are a little older. It’s a lesson that every mum can take on board.
“I put them first to the point where I exhausted myself”
Gwyneth, 44, is mum to Apple Blythe Alison, 12, and Moses Bruce Anthony, 10. She opened up about parenting in a recent interview with People magazine, saying “When my kids were younger, I put them first to the point where I exhausted myself,” adding that it led to her being “short-tempered.”
We hear you Gwyn! Those early days of parenthood are so full-on, so tiring, so fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, it’s hard to know if you’re doing anything right. And it can seem that though we’re trying our very best, we still carry guilt around over the thought that we ‘could have done things better’. So much guilt!
Giving yourself permission to relax
Gwyneth poses a question that occurs to every mother eventually, and which can lead to much of that aforementioned guilt at the very thought: “What if I gave myself permission to take a 20-minute nap and let them be on their iPads and not beat myself up?”
Let’s think about those ‘what ifs’ for a minute…
Whenever we as parents succumb to letting our kids entertain themselves, our inner dialogue most often tells us things like, “What if someone gets hurt?”, or, “What if playing video games really is bad for them?” and the thing that makes a parent most apprehensive: “What if people know that I let screens and devices ‘babysit’ my kids while I rest, and judge me for it?’.
But imagine if we turn those ‘what ifs’ around and like Gwyneth says, don’t beat ourselves up for it?
What if having a short rest means you can parent the kids better that day? What if laying your tired body down for a while gives you a bit more energy to tick a few more things off your to-do list? And let us not forget – what if getting a few minutes shut-eye gives your kids a chance to relax too?
If they hurt themselves? We’ll deal with it. If half an hour of Angry Birds is bad for kids, all those educational activities you’ve bought for them will surely cancel that out. And if someone judges you for letting a device ‘babysit’ your kids, they are no friend of yours anyway (and if they are a friend, perhaps they could volunteer to take the kids to a museum one day while you get some rest – educational enough for them, surely!?).
Let go of the mummy guilt
Gwyneth is happy to let go of all that guilt, citing that her main source of daily health is enjoying her children.
“I would say honestly every day what I do for my health is make sure that I really connect and hug my children. And lie with them at night,” she says. “Nothing fills me up more. They say that if you strengthen and amplify your family and love connections, it’s the best thing for your health, so I always try to make sure that I do that every day. It’s not hard — they’re pretty cute!”
So the secret to good health is loving and enjoying your children? I’m pretty sure we’re all doing just fine then. After all, no one could ever love our kids as much as we do ourselves, so we’re obviously getting something right!
Main image: Instagram/gwynethpaltrow