Anna Mathur: ‘How to mother yourself this Mother’s Day’

woman cuddling baby

by Anna Mathur |

Here’s a thought for you as your mind turns to Mother’s Day. You need mothering too! Whilst we grow older, and our responsibilities grow with us, it’s so easy to forget that you need mothering too. Here, author of the best-selling book Mind over Mother, Anna Mathur explains why and how to focus some mothering time on YOU.

Do you feel entirely like a grown-up through and through? 100 per cent fully functioning, entirely rational adult all of the time?

I often feel like a stroppy teenager or a little girl that just wants to be bundled upstairs for a nap. Sometimes I feel small, scared and vulnerable, and want someone to reassure and comfort me. I might feel rageful and irritable, fantasising about escaping all responsibilities for a day or two so that I can breathe and get space. We are mothers, but we are many parts. We all have that inner part of us that, if we think about it, is like a vulnerable, childlike version of ourselves. In therapy we call this our ‘inner child’, and we can feel our inner child activated when we feel depleted, angry, hurt or in need.

Everyone needs caring for. Everyone needs support, love and to have their needs met. We are mothers. We are not machines, nor are we fictional Mary Poppins. We are humans, we need mothering too.

For Mother’s Day this year, how might you mother yourself a little more? How might you tend to your inner child in a way that will nurture your self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing along the way. It has far more perks than a lie in and a bunch of colourful flowers, as lovely as they are, I promise you. We often think that the relationship we have with our children is the most important of them all, but I’d argue differently. I’d argue that the relationship with yourself is the foundation upon which all others stand.

5 ways to mother yourself this Mother’s Day (and beyond)

Speak with gentleness

Would you speak to your children in the way you speak to yourself? Every time I ask my clients this, the response is a resounding ‘absolutely not’. What would it do to your child’s self-esteem and confidence if you were to do this? Let me tell you this, the way you speak to yourself matters. It matters a lot. It’s the difference between being your own confidence-boosting cheerleader, or your own self-esteem shattering bully.

How can you mother yourself in the way you respond to yourself? Start noticing the tone and language you use in your mind and try to welcome a more maternal alternative. For example, if you were to drop a mug, you might say to yourself ‘you clumsy idiot’. Try bringing in a more compassionate response like ‘oh dear, these things happen’. Over time, this will begin to have a positive impact on your self-esteem as you start to replace criticism with compassion and acknowledgement of your humanness.

Celebrate your wins

We celebrate our children’s big and small wins all the time. We see them smile and feel proud in response. Whether they’ve peed on the potty, shared a toy or won an award at home.

How can you mother yourself in this way? Celebrating and recognising your own wins, regardless of how seemingly insignificant they may be. So often, nobody is clapping for us as we navigate the chaos, so how can you acknowledge it for yourself? Allow yourself to feel a wave of pride in these moments. We criticise ourselves easily enough, so making space to celebrate yourself introduces some welcome balance and boosts your self-esteem in the process.

Seek and accept kindness and support

We offer our children kindness and support all the time. We know that they simply don’t have the capacity to meet all of their own needs. As we grow older, our need for kindness and support is still there! Our needs change of course, but our need to have others alongside us along the journey of life and motherhood is a constant from the beginning to the end.

How can you mother yourself next time you acknowledge a need that is hard to meet yourself, or a feeling you’re finding it challenging to validate, how might you reach out to someone who has historically been kind and supportive? And next time someone offers an act of kindness or words of support, what would it be like to accept them graciously rather than shrug them off or decline them, if this is what you usually do?

Prioritise rest and nourishment

When our child is tired and hungry, we do what we can to meet their needs. When might your inner child have been asking for an opportunity to rest, or something nourishing to eat or drink? How can you mother yourself in the way you treat yourself and approach your needs?

Find your fun

You know the phrase ‘let your hair down’? It’s a recognition that we need to have moments and times where we just have fun! Fun is refuelling and therapeutic, it reduces feelings of stress and overwhelm, and gives our busy mind a glorious break as we engage in the present moment. Your inner child wants to have fun!

How can you find ways to let go and let loose? Consider what you used to enjoy doing when you were younger, or those past-times and hobbies that just fell by the wayside as responsibilities grew and the diary filled? How can you re-introduce them into your life, even if in a small way? Treat yourself to a new drawing pad, or add ‘rollerskates’ to your birthday list. Maybe you find an adult ballet group, or download an app to help you learn the language you dabbled in at school.

Mothering ourselves helps us mother those we love well too, because it’s hard to love well when we are depleted, stressed or burnt out. We are far more likely to be reactive in challenging moments than those times we are rested and our basic needs are met. So, mothering yourself in the way you meet your needs, is also an act of love towards your children! Win, win!

And mothers? We also need each other. Regardless of how together we may seem on the surface, we are one curveball away from bone-shaking vulnerability. We are fierce and protective. We need one another’s arms around us – be it metaphorically, through a well-timed message, a warm lingering glance with eyes that say ‘I see you’. Or a sentence spoken as you pass, devoid of judgement, loaded with recognition. We are oh so strong, and oh so vulnerable. We need to mother ourselves; we need to mother each other.

Meet the expert: Anna Mathur is the founder of The MotherMind Way, an online platform supporting mums’ emotional wellbeing, where you can find nurturing, easy to digest video guides including The Happy New Mum Guide from just £12.

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