Valentine's Day - The Wellness Way.

Valentine's Day - The Wellness Way.
Before us two became a three, and then we three became a five, there was just Josh and I. Freshly married and with a naïve confidence reserved for pre-children couples, a leisurely walk into town for dinner one warm night lead to an in-depth conversation into the type of parents we one day hoped to be. As you would expect our lengthy list of ambitions were the standard hopes and dreams; we hoped to be loving but not overly indulgent, generous while conserving, nurturing however disciplined. A harmonious blend of conservative principles with just enough new-age philosophies to be approachable and, let’s admit it, trendy. And while our ideals may have been tainted with a hint of narcissism, our intentions were pure: to be the best parents we could be. However, it would take two pregnancies and the birth of three babies later for us to realise a critical flaw in our grand design. For while our goals may have been admirable, without the investment of practical and effective resources, our best-made plans would have stayed where they were first unveiled, somewhere on the streets of inner Melbourne.

What we failed to consider in our intents was that before we became a parent, we were a couple. And before we were a couple, we were an individual, an average human, with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, needs and desires. As a fellow human, this should not come as a surprise to you. But what did shock us, somewhat with fear, was the negative impact that occurred on our ability to parent when we selflessly sacrificed our needs for the sake of our ambitions. Rather than being the engaging and invested parents we so aspired to be, what we became was a shell of those desired characteristics, burnt out, tired, and resentful. And for a while, that is what we were.

Rather than admitting defeat we turned outwards, searching for the external reason that was standing in the way of us achieving the ‘perfect parent’ status. Josh scoured the internet, determined to find the solution to our circumstances in a parenting forum, or like-minded blog post, whereas I turned to the fountain of all knowledge (my mother’s group) and deplored them to provide me with the reason for my troubles. I was a good parent, so why wasn’t I happy. My children ate a varied diet, their clothes were (mostly) always clean, we limited the amount of screen time, and made sure to provide them with a balance of outdoor play and reflective time, yet the joy we had so longed to experience was never quite within our grasp.

The answer, I discovered, was not so far-fetched or out of reach, in fact, was discovered one singular night at our local shopping complex. After a particularly challenging day at home with my babies, and desperate to just open a thoroughly exciting parcel without the company of prying eyes or sticky hands, I left our tribe at home in the capable hands of Daddy and took myself out for a drink. Sitting in the warmth of the sun with a glass of wine in hand a feeling of utter bliss washed over me, and I realised in that moment I was being a little something I had ignored for so long; I was being indulgent. A word so often flooding with negative connotations that we attempt at all costs to avoid it, or at the very least, appear to be above it.

In our desire to be engaging and loving parents we had neglected to engage and love two of the most important people in achieving our goals: ourselves.

Almost with a laugh, I realised how contradicting our actions and our ambitions had been! Here we were, two flawed but dedicated individuals, attempting to be nurturing and considerate parents, without first being nurturing or considerate to the people at the heart of our plan… Josh and El. How was it we expected to provide a healthy and balanced example to our children if we ourselves were not first healthy and balanced? What did we hope to achieve if our little humans were constantly served from an empty cup (metaphorically speaking) and not the overflowing well of adoration that we strived to heap upon them? The hopelessness we felt now seemed somewhat appropriate for the hopeless cycle we had fallen trap too.

But thankfully with the answer now within our hands, we began the practice of active self-indulgence. We said yes to feeding the children early and having a sneaky takeaway on the couch. We said yes to having the Grandparents stay for a night out in the city. We said yes to leaving the washing for awhile and soaking up the sunset from the front porch. And we said yes to using products that were not just good for our children, they made our lives easier.

Because while your Aroma Bloom may help your bubba sleep at night, it will also fill your home with a calming mist – and that is good for you. While your Soapberries may aid the environment, they also save you money – and that is good for you. And while your JOCO may cut down on paper waste, it also helps reclaim your coffee fix – and that is VERY good for you. You don’t have to sacrifice your own desires in order to be a conscientious provider. You can have your Organic Essential Oils and enjoy them too! Because while being a generous parent is important, it shouldn’t come at the cost of the very thing our children need us to be, ourselves. For there is not enough Squeakie in the world that can protect a child from catching the symptoms of a burnt out mummy or daddy, and it’s highly contagious.

So this Valentines Day, as we celebrate the day of love with the ones we love the most, let’s not forget to say yes to a little self-indulgence, and goodbye, to ambitions that leave us searching for purpose. Who knows, maybe this V-Day, the best gift you get may be the one that you give yourself.

Love, El x

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  • Eleanor Howe
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