Health check: 'Why us busy mums tend to forget about ourselves'.

The woman is so busy making sure her kids, partner and aging parents are getting their seven serves ..






Truth now.

How many mothers do you know who would REALLY fit their own oxygen mask before assisting their children?

I know, I know, it’s the sensible, safe thing to do. If you’re unconscious you’re no use to anyone, but it goes against every fibre of a mother’s being to deal with your own well-being instead of your kids.’

Similarly, when UN troops are heading into a region where people are dying of thirst, they’re trained to keep enough water for themselves, no matter how desperate the pleas of the people. The thinking being: dehydrated aid workers are worse than no aid workers at all.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Jean Hailes. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

I remember when I heard that, I wondered if it was humanly possible – to put yourself first in that kind of situation. But now I see the sense in it. Like the oxygen mask on the plane, caring for ourselves is pretty much the best thing we can do for our families. If busy mums are sick, tired and permanently pissed off with the world, everyone suffers.

Of course no one wants men to be sick, tired and permanently pissed off either – but (and I’m ducking into the trenches here) men seem to be better at putting themselves first. I think it’s an evolutionary thing. Men are hardwired to fight for the biggest, juiciest chop on the plate whereas a woman will say, ‘Everyone help themselves! I’m not that hungry – I’ve been nibbling all afternoon.’ Then she’ll have the last chop left on the plate, the burnt gristly one.


My friend Caroline (who has no academic qualifications whatsoever) has eloquently named this phenomenon, ‘The Burnt Chop Syndrome.’ Sometimes it manifests itself not in cutlet form but in taking the squashed piece of cake, the dregs of the tea or the bruised banana.

Then there’s the situation where a woman will eat no banana at all – or any leafy greens, pulses or fish rich in omega 3 oils. This woman is so busy making sure her kids, partner and aging parents are getting their seven serves; the only fruit she’s getting is the lemon in her thank-god-the-day’s-over gin & tonic.

It’s understandable, this kind of living, but it has to stop. Not all of it – massive health and lifestyle overhauls can work, but too much too soon can result in good intentions crashing and burning at the first missed bus or lost sock.

Better plan is, they tell me, to hone in on one key focus area:

  • • Staying well and preventing illness.
  • • Taking time out for yourself.
  • • Eating well.
  • • Moving. Doesn’t have to be hardcore exercise, a 30 minute walk can lift your spirits and lower your blood pressure.
  • • Networking – staying connected to friends. Having a laugh, being involved.

This last one is especially important – and for many women, especially busy mums, a whole lot more fun than going jogging.

“There is no health without mental health,’ says Jane Fisher, Jean Hailes Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University. “Take time to focus on the positive and the things you can do to boost your mental health and sense of wellbeing.”

That means going to meet your book club buddies for wine and in-depth analysis of a book none of you have actually read isn’t abandonment of your family. It’s a positive thing – not just for you, but everyone who depends on you.


The sensible thing to do on a Saturday would be to reduce the enormity of the washing-pile, but the best thing to do would be to walk on the sand, browse in a bookshop or do whatever it is that makes you feel peaceful and positive.

One of the best things to do is to form a good relationship with a doctor you trust – someone with a holistic interest in women’s health.

“The juggle is different for every woman,” says Dr Elizabeth Farrell founding director of women’s health organization Jean Hailes. “Your kids may have left home, you may be at the top of your career, or you may have the freedom to travel or do the things you couldn’t do before. I want to let women know what they can expect in terms of a positive experience as they move into their middle years.”

So it seems the trick is to choose one change, make it, and pledge to keep it, whether it’s talking to a doctor if you’re troubled, making a daily walk a priority or calling a girlfriend who makes you laugh.


The Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week begins on Monday September 2. It’s the perfect time to make a pledge to make your health a priority. Head here to register and for information, ideas and inspiration.

The Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week is a week dedicated to all women across Australia to make good health a priority – to helping you learn more about your health and making it easier to take action. The week is divided into five days & It’s FREE!
Mon 2 Sept Women – Wellness, prevention is key

Tues 3 Sept Ourselves- Time out just for you

Wed 4 Sept Move- Get active, one small step at a time

Thurs 5 Sept Eat- eat well with tips to make it easy

Fri 6 Sept Network- reach out to family and friends

You will receive:

It’s free!

Register now and go into the running to win an iPad mini. Submit your pledge at Jean Hailes and go into the draw to win one of 15 Curves Gym memberships (valued at $503 each). 3 winners drawn each day of the event week.

My personal health pledge is to take the juiciest chop on the plate. What’s yours?