parent opinion

"I was so busy looking after my kids, I forgot about myself."

Medibank
Thanks to our brand partner, Medibank

There’s a saying doing the rounds that’s bandied about by well-meaning women in active wear to their bedraggled friends who are clearly using all their energy just to get the kids to school on time.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” they’ll tell you as they skip off to the gym, swooshy ponytail bouncing with every step of their super-cushioned pale pink trainers.

You mutter that one day you’ll have the time to prioritise your own needs and point out that it’s the kids that come first. But they’re not listening. They’re already in the zone for a morning workout and are happily on their way.

And that, my friends, is where we are going wrong.

We’re ignoring our needs because we’re too busy focusing on the health and wellbeing of everyone around us. We buy our children organic fruit and veg yet devour half a triple choc muffin at 11.30am because we’ve forgotten to eat brekkie ourselves (then lament that our jeans don’t fit like they used to). Sound familiar?

How about this one – you take your kids to swimming lessons EVERY. COLD. RAINY. WINDY. WEEK. Without fail. Yet you know that a few laps in the pool would possibly do wonders for your fitness and maybe even be the ideal exercise for your aching joints, but you don’t have time for such a ‘crazy’ action plan, oh no. The creaking in your knees will surely stop once you stop bending down to pick up the baby, right?

You make sure your offspring are signed up to ballet/footy/gymnastics/soccer/athletics but look longingly at the people enjoying a group exercise class by the beach as you drive past, mum’s taxi full of someone else’s sports gear. This is me.

yoga pants
Pilates, I would love to see you please. Image: Supplied.

Oh, and that yoga studio up the road is “amazing” according to your sister-in-law, yet you’ve never set foot inside. You put it off because, well, the beginner class is scheduled right on witching hour at home and you don’t want to subject hubby to the chaos that is your children’s bath and bedtime as soon as he’s home from work. This is also me. And maybe you, too.

Most Aussie parents prioritise their family’s health ahead of their own, according to new stats. A survey of close to 1800 people conducted by Medibank reveals that 77 per cent of us are likely to tick all the boxes when it comes to the health of our children, but sometimes it’s at the expense of our own wellbeing.

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My kids wake after a restful, uninterrupted night’s sleep and I have the oats ready and warm, the freshly squeezed OJ on the table and the toast hovering in the toaster. Amid the morning rush I’ll be lucky to eat a couple of discarded crusts or lick the porridge spoon before I pop it in the dishwasher. I’m not alone. Medibank’s Live Better survey shows that 76 per cent of parents ensure their children eat breakfast every day, but only one in two (55 per cent) do so themselves.

It’s a similar story about being active - 76 per cent of mums and dads are making sure their kids are active every day but only 16 per cent are active as well. Wait, what? No wonder I feel in a constant state of slump.

Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan says as parents, it may feel natural to prioritise your family’s health, but the data shows “it’s important not to let your own health take a back seat”.

There’s a very practical reason why. When you hop aboard a flight, the safety demonstration tells you that in the event of a sudden loss in cabin pressure, you must secure your oxygen mask before helping others. You’re no help to anyone if you run out of oxygen yourself. It’s an analogy for life – and putting myself last is exactly the type of habit I need to snap out of.

How about this – only 17 per cent of parents practise self-care each day (and half of those feel guilty for doing so) despite 73 per cent of parents admitting that when they do take time for themselves, they’re a better person to those around them. Win-win really.

Hear what a few different families have to say about that here:

Video via Medibank

The Medibank data also shows that those without children also struggle to find ‘me time’, with half saying they don’t practise self-care enough. I can’t blame the rugrats then.

“It can be hard to find time for ourselves, in amongst family, work and social commitments,” says Dr Swan.

“With these findings, we hope to demonstrate to all Australians that dedicating time to focus on your health, whether it’s for five minutes or five hours, can have a positive knock-on effect on those around us.”

Healthier, refreshed, happy mummy will be right back, kids. I’m off to sign up for pilates and organise a weekend away with the girls…and that’s just the start.

For tips and advice on health and wellbeing, Medibank Live Better includes an online hub, free and active community events and the new Live Better app.

What does "self care" mean to you? Do you get enough of it?

This content was brought to you with thanks to our brand partner, Medibank.

Medibank

For tips and tools to help you eat, move and feel better, Medibank has created Live Better to support the health and wellbeing of all Australians. Live Better includes a digital guide to better health, Medibank supported free, active and social activities and the new Live Better app. Find out more at www.medibank.com.au/livebetter

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