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Having kids is no reason to let your health go

It’s perfectly normal to “let yourself go” and take a few months or even years to adjust as a new mom. But in the long-term, your physical health and your emotional well-being matter just as much as caring for your family. There’s no excuse to put yourself last on the list.

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions. If you’re the average mom, cleaning your house and making more time for your kids are probably at the top of your list.

Maybe you’ll squeeze in the go-to New Year’s resolution if you’re extra ambitious: Lose five pounds, which loosely translates to, “Stop stuffing extra chicken nuggets in your mouth while feeding your kids and start counting calories again.”

Parenting is hard, there’s no doubt about it. But what makes it even harder is when the person driving the train is actually driving herself into the ground. I’m talking about you, and I’m also talking about me.

Though it sounds like a very Michael Scott way to praise yourself at a job interview when asked about your weaknesses, most moms really do try too hard and love too much. This is a great thing when you are raising young children who are literally sucking the life — and the breast milk — right out of you.

But if you keep up these self-sacrificing, martyr qualities as your kids get older, they’re going to notice. They’re probably going to take advantage of you if you’re more willing to give in to them than to give in to yourself. They’re probably going to resent you when you slave away to put their hot dinner on the table yet never take the time to sit down and actually eat with them. They’re definitely going to pick up your bad habits and miss out on the self-love they so desperately need as teenagers and young adults.

I am speaking from experience from watching my own mother and living my own life. It’s hard to put yourself first, even for 20 minutes a day. It’s almost impossible not to feel guilty when you book a babysitter and watch your kids cry for a few minutes just so you can spend time out in the real world with your husband.

But it’s worth it. Not only does putting your mental health first really and truly matter to recharge your batteries and make you a better parent, it also sets an excellent example for your kids. Putting your health first is even selfless when you think about the fact that you will be around longer to watch your kids and grandkids grow up.

When you make your New Year’s resolutions this year, do something different. Ditch the guilt and put yourself higher on the list.

More on moms

U.K. report shows most pregnancies better off with midwives than OB-GYNs
Confession: I don’t want mommy friends
Grown men can watch birth without it ruining their sex lives

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