“I recommend having a weekly massage for small business owners.” Tonight I listened to a training course for entrepreneurs. When the trainer uttered this sentence I literally guffawed. Friends, self-care here is about basic human needs. Massage? No. It’s about being able to drink water, eat food and use the bathroom.

yellow flower

The first thing I hear in the morning is my six year old son’s voice: “Did you put out the moth trap?” Every dry night he runs a bright light box that attracts moths. The next morning he collects, identifies, then releases them. And although I am a supportive mentor, some mornings I really don’t want to hear anyone’s demands. Sometimes I’ve slept badly. Sometimes I feel ill. Sometimes I’m still recovering from a bad day yesterday. Sometimes I would really like to open my eyes on my own terms, drop my feet to the floor when I want to, and practise my Yoga alone… use the bathroom without being bombarded by a list of demands… yawn and stretch and not think about someone else’s wants and needs.

He’s little. He doesn’t really consider what I need or feel. We are still working on that. In the meantime, my needs are my responsibility. Sometimes I don’t get the space or time to think about those needs. Sometimes mornings are so packed with the imperative to make a lunch for my schooled child, a picnic for my homeschooled children, getting dinner in the slow cooker, thinking what to make for lunch, getting breakfast on the table so the eldest can get to the bus in time… phew! My needs don’t just come last. They simply don’t feature.

Some days I find myself dancing around because I’ve been holding on for such a long time that I am desperate for a pee. Some days I open up the picnic bag and realise that I packed things for the children and forgot to pack food for myself (sandwich crusts, anyone?). Some days I get to the end of the day and realise I haven’t drunk a single glass of water all day (which begs the question why I have to pee so badly).

How does that even happen? It’s too easy to forget what I need when I am awash in other peoples’ needs. I shake my head at my own forgetfulness. In my love of putting my children at the centre, I find that I am falling off of the periphery of my own radar screen.

You can imagine how uncomfortable it is to be thirsty, hungry, needing a pee and at the same time working hard to meet the needs of young children. I am working on changing my habits, building things into my day to help me prioritise what I need. I am pouring myself a glass of water every morning before I sit down to read with the children. I am making extra dinner so I have some food left over to take for our picnic the next day. I am requesting that the children leave me alone while I go to the bathroom (which, owing to the aforementioned water habit, I seem to be needing an awful lot more!).

Goodness, it’s not rocket science. But somewhere along the line I forgot how to look after myself. I forgot that it’s ok to ask for those basic needs to be met. I forgot that it’s my responsibility to prioritise them. And now that I am, I’m finding that the world continues to turn, but I’m enjoying it a whole lot more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just need to, you know….


How do you make sure your own needs are met? Are there any areas you’re particularly working on to help you meet your needs?

Do you get a weekly massage?

Words and pictures © Lisa Hassan Scott 2015

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Meeting our needs as people, even though we are parents
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12 thoughts on “Meeting our needs as people, even though we are parents

  • 08/10/2015 at 9:16 pm

    Oh my. Well an ER trip in the middle of the night for a UTI (years ago, when the boys were small) insured I’ll never forget to drink enough water again! We all have water bottles. We all have them with us when we’re out–parents too. I always travel with food because I can’t count on finding celiac-safe food out. As you know I hit a rough patch a couple years ago. Even my youngest–who was perhaps 4 at the time–learned that everybody’s needs were important. Even the grownups’. I can’t take GOOD care of my kids if I’m not taking care of myself. xo

    • 09/10/2015 at 8:57 pm

      Gosh I really think I have been operating on low-level dehydration for the past four years! My body is so grateful that I’m drinking more water. Yes. Everybody’s needs are important.

  • 09/10/2015 at 12:06 am

    Oh gosh I could have written this. I have a 3 month old baby, a 2.5 year old and an almost 4 year old and I feel exactly the same, I get to evenings when everyone sleeps and realised I haven’t had a drink all day and I’ve been holding a pee in while my newborn fed for 4 hours! Then I stay up way too late because I really need
    some time to just think in peace and quiet, then I’m even more knackered the next day. I must try and do more to meet my needs, need to squeeze in a bit of yoga tomorrow, its been too long and it does wonders for my mood and sense of wellness.

    I have no advice at all, but a have a hug from a mama who knows exactly how you feel, L x

    • 09/10/2015 at 8:59 pm

      This is such a lovely comment. Thank you so much for understanding and taking the time to comment. What you describe is so familiar to me! (And it seems to a lot of people judging by the response to this piece.)

      Staying up too late to get time alone: I KNOW!

  • 09/10/2015 at 3:48 pm

    No weekly massage here, but I do go to therapies, and work hard to meet some of my needs, because it can be disastrous if I do not. I love that you’re empowered about needs, so aware, and working to take care of you, my friend. It is hard it the kids, and higher-needs kids, to separate their needs from my own. I’m working on that aspect- differentiation. Thanks for sharing your insight and inspiration. <3

    • 09/10/2015 at 9:02 pm

      Angie, thanks for this comment and for sharing my post. When you say that it can be disastrous– yes, I totally get that. You are working hard to prioritise the work you know you need. I so admire that about you.

  • 09/10/2015 at 11:23 pm

    Great post Lisa. I’m a small business owner and I’d like a weekly massage! Sadly, though, there’s no money to be made from independently publishing books so the weekly massage will have to go on hold for a bit…

    Since my youngest has started school though (he comes home for lunch) I have 3 hours in the morning when I simply enjoy the quiet. I try to not let the whole no-money-making publishing books stuff zap all the hours away and I make some time to either write poetry or fiction or to do a little art. Today I managed a whole hour writing poetry outside in the gorgeous autumn weather until work called me in, and it really set me up for the whole day. 🙂

    Hope you manage to prioritise your needs amidst the chaos of family life!

    • 10/10/2015 at 10:17 am

      Oh! A whole hour of writing poetry in the sun on an autumn day! That is extraordinary. I am so delighted that you are giving yourself this gift. I can imagine that it is doing you so much good.

  • 10/10/2015 at 1:58 pm

    getting my basic needs met means getting back to the basics of caring for a newborn. when she cries i wonder: too hot? too cold? hungry? hurt? needs a diaper change? needs a snuggle?

    my children at the ages of 12 and 8 have heard these kinds of questions uttered by me since their births, plus related suggestions (here’s a drink of cool water. let’s take a quick bathroom break. a hat will keep your head comfy.) although it hasn’t completely gotten them in the habit of checking in with their bodies (yet), it has had an effect on me to ask myself these kinds of questions. and my husband and mama friends have learned to check in with me on those, too, in a gentle reminding way. it helps me to remember that my kids are observing and absorbing and will learn to do for themselves what they see me doing for myself.

    i used to schedule a monthly massage, treating it as a medical expense because we’d inevitably find a painful area every time to concentrate on. my favorite therapist has left that practice, and i’m taking the opportunity to switch my priority to healing my shoulder via acupuncture. it’s not easy, and it often hurts for a while, but i notice a positive effect overall.

    one of our family’s basic core values is: *we get what we need*. that applies to our mental and emotional health just as much as our physical health. it clearly defines for us the difference between what we want and what we need. and once our basic needs are addressed, it sure is easier to figure out how to get some of the *wants* too.

    • 10/10/2015 at 4:21 pm

      I love everything you say Dawn, but I love the last lines best of all: “once our basic needs are addressed, it sure is easier to figure out how to get some of the wants too.” Yes. This. I have definitely been noticing that when I pay better attention to my basic needs, I have clearer thinking and feel more centred overall. We get what we need. I love this.

  • 10/10/2015 at 5:12 pm

    I’ve got four kids and five year old twins in there, so yes – I identified with your day! I remember almost training my first born. She was so used to having my undivided attention that I one day I sat on the couch with a coffee and a book and I refused to do anything until the coffee was drunk all the way to the bottom of the cup. After staring at me like I had horns, she wandered off and did her own thing. A big lesson for me!

    As they’ve gotten older I’ve got much, much better at doing my own thing. I’m about to become the mother of a teenager and I think it’s crucial that she sees me looking after myself properly and sees that my own interests and passions are just as important as anyone else’s. I still give up the majority of the day to them and write early in the morning or late at night, but they know that I do it and now and again I’ll just say ‘I’m off to write for an hour’ and they all survive just fine.

    Remember the drill on the airplane: secure your own breathing equipment first before helping anyone else. Or you’re both in trouble. x

    • 10/10/2015 at 8:03 pm

      Such words of wisdom here, Lynn. Especially that last part. It’s true that as they get older they do start to appreciate that we have our own needs, especially if we show that they’re important to us.

      I’m also about to become the mother of a teenager! Another adventure awaits.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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