181. Becoming moms who take care of themselves (steps to learn how to meet your own needs)

From becoming aware, to validation, to giving ourselves permission to disrupt the system – we have some steps that can help us in our process of Becoming Someone Who Takes Care of Themselves. I want to share with you how decluttering led me to assess how I was taking care of myself, and how I worked from my basic needs, in small steps to more personal needs. 

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In this episode I talk more about:

  • Our basic needs
  • The wheel of self care
  • Self-care of ourselves vs caring for others
  • The cultural rules of self-care for moms
  • Owning our own narrative of motherhood 
  • The process of becoming someone who takes care of themselves: awareness, validation, permission, approach
  • All or nothing thinking


Links you might like 

174. Christmas hygge ideas + understanding how the window of tolerance impacts your stress in motherhood

First episode in the series 179. What are your needs and how are you meeting them?

Second episode in the series 180. Self-care and self-love, what would our mothers say?

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay 

Small things matter 78. Small things that can change your whole life (the compound effect)

When Motherhood Can Change You but You Can’t Change Motherhood

When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate

Self care assessment 

Enneagram Enneagram 101 (what is it and what are the nine types)

139. Are you TOO comfortable? And what is it costing you?

113. Why you aren’t thriving in motherhood (stress and surviving)

Sign up for Simple Saturdays Email 

Talk to me on Instagram 


The Wheel of Self Care, by Olga Phoenix


Full Transcript (unedited)

Hey friends, it’s Shawna, your nerdy girlfriend and counselor from simpleonpurpose.ca. Welcome the simple on purpose podcast, we are continuing our series about meeting our needs in today I want to talk about becoming someone who takes care of themselves. In the last episode, I talked about how we can shift our approach to the things we call self love and self care. And when we are proactive with self care, then we can become better at creating and maintaining capacity, capacity for our lives and capacity matters. Capacity, having capacity, it helps us feel like we’re just able to handle our day. If you’ve heard talk about the window of tolerance, I think that’s a good example of capacity. When we are in our window of tolerance, we feel like we have capacity, I’ll make sure to link an episode on that where I’ve talked about that in the past. So when we are not meeting our needs, we have lowered capacity. Or maybe another way to say this is that meeting our needs increases our capacity. In the very first episode of this series, we talked about our relationship to our needs and how we learn from our upbringing, what’s acceptable, what’s not, what’s a burden, who meets our needs, how do we express them, whose needs Should we meet whose needs are more important, and so on. And then we also are living in this world where we hear a lot about self care and self love. But we’ve also have some handed down notions from our own mothers and the mothers in our lives. I shared my own story around that in the last episode. And so we’re all entering into this conversation with a bit of a different framework on what’s comfortable, what’s right, what’s acceptable when it comes to our needs as a women and moms. I have been asking around what do you consider your basic needs basic needs. And I see a general consensus that our basic needs are what we need to survive, food, sleep, shelter, water. And I’m going to be honest, I know some of us are not very good at three out of four. And I will tell you my very basic list, when I entered into this mindset of becoming someone who takes care of themselves, it did start with food, sleep, water and, and physical space, my home. I’ll talk about that a little bit more later on. But addressing the complacency of how I was taking care of my home, was really the first step to me addressing the complacency of how I was taking care of myself. And I would have ended my list of basic needs right there with those four things. But I have come to see how when I take care of those, then there’s other things that become available for me to take care of as well. And additionally, as I went through training for counseling, we had to write our own self care plans on how we were going to take care of ourselves through the program. And we had to also include it in our treatment plans with our clients, where we were considering how our clients could write up these self care plans and take care of the different parts of themselves. And what I’ve learned is that many mental health practitioners will use the wheel of wellness or the wheel of self care. And there’s a popular one, I’ll make sure to link it in the show notes by Olga Phoenix, she developed it for a trauma healing workbook, but it’s widely used, and it has these categories. It has physical, and that ranges from housing, medical care, taking time for appointments, massages, taking a walk psychological, where we are doing our self reflection, our therapy, if we need it, where we’re doing self expressive things like hobbies, and gardening, emotional where we are learning how to be in tune with our emotional selves, all the way up to practicing forgiveness. There’s spiritual, whether you are connecting through nature or self reflection or joining a spiritual community. There’s personal getting to know yourself what you like what you want out of life planning goals, that kind of thing. There’s also professional and that is how we show up in our work lives, whether it is having boundaries, and taking on different challenges to how we are handling our coworkers. So that kind of feels like a lot. Maybe as a moment feels like too much because, I mean, some of us aren’t even eating or sleeping properly. And then you add all of this plus all of the people. So if you feel an inner panic, or even an inner dismissal, I get that. And I want to just say this, don’t go into self care with this all or nothing thinking. There’s lots of ideas on different things we can pay attention to. And we don’t have to do everything. We don’t have to do all of the things in fact, start where you’re at little things matter. But I think this conversation also helps us acknowledge that we can really short ourselves when it comes to what we let pass a self care for us versus self care for others. And some of us might feel it’s noble or even necessary to care. We’re better for others than ourselves. Some of us don’t question it, some of us aren’t even aware of it. And as mums, we need to consider how we are reinforcing cultural definitions on what it looks like for mums to meet their needs. Do not let your culture tell you that having a shower is a nice break for you. I mean, sure, water therapy real thing. But don’t tell me that cleaning my body and washing, like oatmeal and you know, sweat off of my body is me time? No, it’s personal hygiene. Because if a shower is me time, well then what about that long, hot bubble bath? When your partner handles bedtimes? What will we say to moms then? Oh, what a luxury? Do you deserve that? Or don’t let people tell you that go into the grocery store? Alone? Oh, it’s a nice break for you. Do we say that to dads? I mean, of course, it’s easier without kids. But we still need groceries, we still need to feed people. It’s not like we take a jet to Italy and buy some pasture and tomatoes while we’re sipping on a cappuccino on an Italian patio. And then how about moms who go on a yoga retreat or any retreat of interest to her to them, while their kids are taken care of Safe at Home? Man, what do we think we think she must not really want to be around her kids. It’s a little selfish. Like, what it is a double standard again, for fathers. And I get it, I have been a stay at home mom for all of my kids, even now I only work during school hours. So I get that for some of us. Mum is the job. And we have a lot of feelings and definitions around how that should be. But it’s also a job that has been impacted by the cultural definitions around us of what a mum should be doing, how she should be acting, how she should be looking how she should be taking care of herself, how should I be taking care of others, when what actually should happen is that we should define that job for ourselves within our own family context. Because the reality is no one else is doing this job for us in additionally, it’s a job, we had no idea what it would look like when we signed up for it. I remember feeling so surprised at how angry I was in motherhood. I remember being so surprised at how a lack of sleep made me absolutely miserable. And I’m still surprised every season that comes along in parenting, I feel like there’s hard parts that I had no clue to expect. Or like I heard about them, but then I was in them. And it just felt so overwhelming. So I’ve learned that taking care of myself and all of this helps me go to battle so to speak, it helps me to feel resourced. It helps me to feel like I can take on the hard parts and show up for the awesome parts. And it also feels a little bit countercultural sometimes to set boundaries and take care of myself as well as my people. So as we talk, what’s important is for you to own your definition of what your needs are. What is your definition right now of what your needs are? And do you like it? Does it help you ultimately you get to own your own narrative here. I found it was really interesting to start hearing back from you guys, especially moms on this topic, because there’s a little bit of a theme of, I didn’t even know I was neglecting my own needs. Almost just a lack of awareness because we’re just living on autopilot. And this whole system of how we show up for ourselves and others, how we meet the needs of those around us. It’s gradually built. And I think that’s where this whole process has to start. When it comes to all caps, becoming someone who takes care of themselves. The first step, I think it starts with awareness. I’ve shared my own awareness. Many times when I decided to declutter, I just knew I wasn’t happy with my space. And I didn’t really give myself permission to do anything about it ever. Until I read a book about decluttering, the joy of less by Francine J. And I just mentioned earlier that seeing how complacent I was in my home, started to make me realize all of the areas of my life, I had become complacent. And I was becoming aware of the accumulation of what I didn’t like I was becoming aware of the aches in my body, the anxiety, my motherhood, the resentment in my marriage, and it was a wake up call to wanting to take control of my life. So awareness, becoming aware, sometimes it can be obvious, sometimes our needs are obvious. We know we’re hungry, we know we’re tired, we know we’re overwhelmed. We can rely on the signals that we are in a deficit to make us realize that we have a need there. It’s kind of like that low fuel alarm going off in your car. But other needs can be harder to identify. We’re just living with this discomfort and we’re not even realizing that we have a need that’s being unmet or met in unhealthy ways. For example, you might not realize that you’re lonely until you look through your screentime stats and you see that you’ve just spent way too much time scrolling the lives of other people just to get that sense of connection in your day. You might not realize that you accumulate stress all day long, until you’re turning at the end of the night to some hefty coping mechanisms.

For some of us, we’re just going through the motions of life putting out fires, that we aren’t aware of the deficits that are accumulating, until we get that wake up call, like a coping mechanism that has become a problem. Or a body that is just crying out for our attention. If you want to dig into that aspect of things I recommend when the body says no, by Gabe Rometty. Or we might have a wake up call when we see our relationships that are just struggling, or our mind just feeling so messy and hard to live in. I remember a while back one of my besties was sharing this revelation she had she had that she wasn’t taking care of herself as a mom, when she had come across this assessment that asked, Do you get regular medical care that you need. And she realized that she did have some medical issues that she was constantly putting on the backburner. And she never thought of it as taking care of herself, but maybe more of a nuisance, or just something that she could power through and figure out later, that was a bit of a wake up call some awareness for her that she wasn’t taking care of herself. gaining awareness is the first step stop and ask yourself throughout the day, how are you feeling and what you might be needing? I’m going to put in that self care assessment that I mentioned, I’m going to link to that. Try it out and see what you learn about yourself and what needs you feel that you may need to be better at meeting. So once we’ve become aware that there’s a need here, the next step is to validate it. And this one can feel messy when we get hung up on the question. Is this really a need? Or is this a want? Because asking this question can make us deny our needs and keep us reinforcing and looking for evidence that we don’t actually need that we don’t need to eat three meals a day, we don’t need to go to these medical appointments. Or it can swing the other way. The other thing it can make us do is feel entitled about our wants, if we call them needs, we need this for survival. Well, that makes everyone else a villain or roadblock if they aren’t appropriately supportive of us meeting our needs. And by that I mean if they aren’t following our checklist on how we need them to support us in meeting our needs, it will default us to the victim role. I struggle with this question a lot i It might be my type nine tendencies. If you know the Enneagram type nine is alone time, my alone time a need or a want is having the kitchen clean a need or a want? Is me wanting time away to a no right or play music? It’s a hobby is that a need? Or a want? Is time a wife away for exercise and need or want? How about a new bra need or want? How about new jeans need or want. And sometimes this can start to become a relational issue, because we are in relationships, where our time and our energy is accounted for. That impacts how we can meet our needs. So what becomes What will others think, will they agree? How do I make them agree? Maybe they’re right, maybe I’m wrong, how much is too much. And at the end of the day, validating your needs is your job. So you need to think about it and you need to own it. So let’s say we’ve gotten past this step, we can officially say I validate this need, or even we can say I want this and I own that I want this. Alright, so I validate that I will have childcare two mornings a week, and I can unplug from them and into something that I get a lot of enjoyment out of now that we don’t get enjoyment out of our kids don’t. Don’t let me say it’s one or the other. Or I validate that I will make myself a meal. When I feed my kids, I’m gonna sit down and eat it instead of racing around catering to them, and then sitting alone at a messy empty table. So once we validated, the next step is permission. And we need to really assign ourselves a permission slip because it does kind of feel a little bit necessary in a way when we are disrupting the system. A system that we had had and creating as well. Some great advice I had when I was starting out in motherhood was start as you mean to go, it’s easier to add more than to take away and this helped me keep keep a long term picture in my mind. And I would try to think of things and anticipate things and it had me doing things like from a very small age with my kids. Nobody gets a water run when they are tucked in. Once they’re tucked in. That’s it because I did not want to become a beverage service every night at 8pm to three kids so I just cut it off right there. Plan your water. They do plan their water. I have made rules like when the doors closed do knock. When I’m in the bathroom you have to wait till I’m done. Though even to this day, my oldest is 12 and I am curious about this phenomenon you know how women’s bodies are cycles are like connected to the ocean or the moon or whatever I don’t even know. I feel like our kids is fighting with one another is connected to the locking of the bathroom door and a mom not being accessible for the next four minutes. Like there’s some cosmic phenomenon happening there. But there are still things I didn’t know, to start as I would mean to go. And I think as moms, we find ourselves here we didn’t know the system would work against us, when we made it out of a lot of love or a lot of desperation. So when we want to change the system, there will be resistance, even from spouses who are wonderful and loving towards us, because every one is used to the system. So it’s a learning process for everyone. Well, we, as moms learn to set boundaries, enforce those boundaries, follow through on those boundaries, even when others are uncomfortable by them. So giving ourselves permission, it also means giving ourselves permission to view ourselves worthy of this ask worthy of this boundary. Even if it’s something as simple as replacing your worn out boots, that water is leaking into all season. Or asking a girlfriend to take your kids after school so you can run some errands, or sitting at the kitchen table for five minutes to drink your coffee warm when your kids are actually used to you jumping up and meeting all of their needs. The discomfort of calling ourselves worthy will redirect us back to our old ways if we aren’t willing to endure that discomfort. The next thing to consider is our whole approach in how we meet our needs. How do you meet the need of eating through the day? Or socializing? How do you meet the need of getting exercise or movement if that’s important to you, and I like the framework of looking at it as habits. Because meeting our needs has to be a habit, it has to be a built in system where we do those crucial things often, most crucial things often and the less crucial things less less often. And what is actually going to give you freedom here and the ability to progress here. The game changer. And all of this is to let go of all or nothing thinking that it doesn’t have to be a daily one hour exercise class. It doesn’t have to be every weekend meal prep with things ready and cute little mason jars. It doesn’t have to be every afternoon off to read or to journal, it doesn’t have to be Monday brunch with your closest friends. It still has to work with your life, which if you are at the stage, when your kids are at home, it looks like putting these things in little doses in your day. Small things matter. I’ve said this over and over again, small things matter. Even more small things when done consistently and with intention matter. And it has to be consistent. One night away, after six months of not sleeping will not be a silver bullet. It won’t just magically fix you. I mean, maybe maybe it works for you to let it all pile up and tolerate it because you know, you get this one night away. I mean, that’s how I do laundry all at once one night a week. But maybe that’s also too much pressure to put on one night, maybe that’s too much pressure to have that night work at all cost may be consistent smaller amounts of time to respite can be more supportive. My wonderful in laws, they take my kids for a week at Spring Break and in the summer. And these are the two times of year when my husband and I have just time to ourselves, the house to ourselves, maybe we go away for a couple of nights. I look forward to it more than anything, really. In my year. Well, I had drafted up the show notes, spring break break came and guess what our kids had a stomach bug over spring break. So we did not take them to our in laws to share those germs around. And I laughed at myself because it just reminded me that I need to find smaller, more consistent ways to ensure that I have that time that I’m craving with Connor. And I have to remember my approach that it can look, it can look so many different ways it doesn’t have to look a certain way. Which brings me really to the final point of the process of all caps becoming someone who takes care of themselves, which is being flexible. And we can be more flexible. When we are consistent. When you have a routine, you can miss days, you can allow days off because you know you’re gonna get back to it. And because you feel you have that history of maintaining it. To me, it’s a lot like brushing your teeth, you brush them at least twice a day. So if you happen to miss a night or miss a morning, it’s fine because it’s going to happen again within the next, you know, six to 12 hours. The other part about being flexible is going to plan B sometimes. And I’m going to link a post in the show notes about that where Connor texted me one night at dinner that he was going to be late when I had plans to go to an exercise class which like never happens in my life. So I’ll make sure to put that in the show notes as well.

As we go through the steps of learning to meet our needs. It’s important that we keep an open mind And about the different needs, we have, understand what we want to feel from that need, and the various ways that we can meet that feeling. And that need, I hope you’re seeing that with all of this, that there’s a mindset that needs to be shifted every step of the way, we need to be able to let go of our own stories and our favorite excuses, we need to let go of the rules that we’ve given ourselves about our own rules, our own worthiness, our own value. And of course, as we challenge these stories, there’s a cost to giving up these stories. But there’s also a benefit to giving up the stories. And if any of this starts to feel messy or confusing, or you want support with it, reach out for support. Get a counselor or a coach that is nearby or one that you feel connected to, to walk you through this. Alright, in the following episodes, I’m going to start telling you about my own experiences with learning to meet my basic needs. And I’m going to start with food feeding myself that basic need. I want to share each of these episodes from my own point of view. So I don’t want to give you suggestions and advice for your life. I just want to share my own journey and the insights I had for myself and if something works for you. Great, try it on. I’m going to cover a few of these basic needs. And if there’s one you would really love to hear about. If there’s one you feel like you struggle with meeting, make sure to reach out to me message me and let me know I want to try to incorporate that into the series. And as I said in the last episode, I love it when these podcasts generate conversation with you. So if you have thoughts, I would love to hear them. You can always hit reply on the simple Saturday’s email or you can find me on Instagram at simple on purpose.ca. If you are able to share a story of you listening to the episode your insights, or you can message me on Instagram. I’d love to hear you there. Alright friends, happy gravy.



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