Is It Really Selfish To Focus On Your Needs First?

I entered the unexpected journey of single motherhood when my daughters had barely turned 1 and 2 years old. With my family and friends living overseas in the Dominican Republic, and having to suddenly enter the workplace to support my family, this meant I had to juggle and struggle in ways I never imagined.

I was always committed to being a good mom, and for me, that meant “putting my children first.” This philosophy, while based on great intentions, took a toll on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was last on my list and it showed… and what was worse… I was okay with that.

I was too busy to eat. I was too busy to sleep. I was too busy to read. I was too busy to go to church. I was too busy to read my scriptures. I was too busy to socialize… I was too busy to live. I wasn’t happy, I weighed 67 lbs., and I was exhausted!

It wasn’t until I heard the most feared 6-letter-word on the planet that I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was time to get rid of the cancer in my body, my excuses, and my self-limiting beliefs… and start focusing on my needs.

Is it really selfish to focus on your needs first_

Because I went through this and many other life-threatening experiences, I am now on a mission to teaching moms like you to start making your well-being a priority. Nurture Yourself F.I.R.S.T. is the 5th step of my BALANCE formula to “having it all without losing your head.”

I love acronyms, so using the word F.I.R.S.T., I will share what I believe you deliberately must work on on a daily basis in order to be your best self and, in turn, contribute a greater impact to your family:

Feelings ~ Honor your emotions. Let those around you know when you need more compassion, words of affirmation, more support around the home, or even a hug. Conceal, don’t feel didn’t work for Queen Elsa, and it won’t for you. I speak honestly to my husband and my children about my emotional state so they know what to expect from me. This is a huge source of peace and relief for me, which suppresses any guilt I may be tempted to feel. It also accelerates my healing process. What works for you?

Interaction ~ Arrange, schedule, and honor time to interact with other adults, especially other women. There was a time in my life when “if Bob didn’t build it, Dora didn’t sing it, and Doctor Seuss didn’t write it, it didn’t exist for me!” I have learned that having a network of like-minded, like-hearted, supportive, women is an essential need for me, not a luxury, and I make sure it’s on the schedule. Is it on yours?

Rest ~ Rest is a core component of a balanced lifestyle. Seeking help, saying NO, and scheduling priorities are three ways you can make sure you sleep, rest, and relax. People frequently ask me how I manage to do it all: I don’t! My family works as a team, and it actually brings us closer. I observe Sundays as a day of rest and worship, and that helps me avoid feeling irritable, grumpy, and snappy the rest of the week. Do you set time aside to recharge?

Self-care is the balance between selfishness and self-sacrifice.

Self-Care ~ Self-care is the balance between selfishness and self-sacrifice. Because everything you do impacts your self-image and in turn, your behavior, lack of self-care will cause you to be cranky, short-tempered, unhealthy, and unable to serve anyone! When you do the things that make you feel like a million dollars, you have the energy, clarity, and focus to be the mom you desire to be. How do you practice self-care?

Time Alone ~  Even as an extrovert by common terms, time alone gives me the opportunity to connect with myself and with my Heavenly Father, which sets the tone for my day, my productivity, and the quality of my interaction with others each day. As a homeschooling mom of two growing girls and a very active toddler, I know it can be really difficult to get time for yourself, but it’s not impossible when we are committed to being our best self. Will you find a way?

As you can see, my mindset has shifted since my early days of motherhood, and I now recognize that instead of “putting my kids first,” I now put “my family first,” and that includes me!

Self-sacrifice sure sounds noble, but if you are honest, wouldn’t you say that putting everyone else’ needs before yours has not worked for you, that in fact, it has wounded you?

It probably has become a burden, turning what you once loved to give and share into what makes you frustrated, bitter, and resentful.

In the journey of motherhood, as you travel with little children, you must put your mask first and then assist others

In the journey of motherhood, as you travel with little children, the flight analogy rings true: put your mask on first, and then assist others.

I invite you to partner with your family so they can support you in making time for you and nurturing yourself FIRST. I guarantee that the people who truly love you crave to see you happy, excited, and anxiously engaged in positive causes. They can’t stand to see you drained, defeated, and depressed… especially if it’s “for them.” Make your family your reason, not your excuse. The best kind of mom you can be is a happy mom!

Your turn to express yourself at The Positive Mom blog

 What do you think? Is it really selfish to focus on YOUR needs first?

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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69 thoughts on “Is It Really Selfish To Focus On Your Needs First?

  1. I go through cycles of doing a GREAT job at this and then failing miserably and feeling awful and irritable and annoyed with myself and my family. It’s a CONSTANT cycle. I’m a strong, smart, level-headed Believer who wants to follow the Holy Spirit in my life, my parenting, and my relationships. But I struggle to manage my time and my days within housework, homeschooling (3), meal planning, personal “self-care,” and church commitments. It IS too much and I’m frustrated that I cannot get into a regular rhythm of it all. Reading this article today was encouraging and I agreed with it because it’s reminding me of what I already KNOW to be true! Implementing a plan is the challenge. I can’t even get enough alone time and/or clarity to create such a plan. It’s a constant struggle. So yeah, thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  2. Am blessed by this. Been going through a lot of tussle between my career, family and me without really putting me in consideration. This has left me feeling empty and unfulfilled most of the time but with what I just read, it is a good start for me in the new year and an eye opener. Thanks, more grace

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  4. What a powerful message and a damn important one too! I was able to resignate significantly with the first couple paragraphs of this article but I’m now feeling inspired to make the last few resignate with me as well. Thanks!

  5. I dont think it’s selfish at all. Of course our needs should be focused on however I’ve seen it all too much where the parent focuses too much on themselves and less on the kids and I think that can be a problem. If we can’t be happy, healthy and have our needs met how can we do that for our children?

  6. First, the Dominican Republic- I am going there for my first time in April! Second, I don’t think it is selfish to focus on your own needs as a Mom at all. You have to be healthy enough mentally, physically, and emotionally before you can properly take care of anybody else.

  7. As a single mom myself, this post is really meaningful. My son is nine now. I spent the better part of the last 9 years always putting him first. I think, though, that it’s not selfish to put our needs first sometimes. If our kids are healthy, happy and cared for, is it really selfish to say no, sorry, I can’t play video games with you tonight because I want to read a book? Our generation has somehow developed this idea that we need to be attached to our kids around the clock. It’s not good for us or them. Thanks for this fantastic post!

  8. This is certainly something that I want to have more time to do this year. I take care of mom full time. My daughter just had twins so I am a new grandma but I can feel those old feelings of stress creeping back in. I don’t take nearly enough time for myself. I don’t think it’s selfish at all I think it is a must!

  9. I don’t think it’s selfish, I think it’s hard to remember 😉 I’m getting better at it though, I do things to help my family remember they don’t always need me and in turn I remember that too. Over the past 2 years my hubby and daughter have taken on more and it’s been nice. It takes work to run a family, even life, but it takes work to take care of yourself too! This was a good post with great tips on how to do just that!

  10. It’s so important that we take care of ourselves! Only we understand what our body’s need and how our minds work. Once I learned to put myself first, my life changed for the better <3

  11. Absolutely not!! Honestly When my Daughter was first born I was like everything her first, but learned really quick that, that was no way to live! You have to make yourself a priority & happy to be able to be the best for everyone else and make them happy 🙂 Everyone is happier when mommy is happy 😉

  12. It’s really important for mothers to give themselves some me time and time alone. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t have children understands how stressful and exhausting it can be.

  13. I am now just like you were originally, and I can’t break out of it. I wish I could find a way. I’m so glad you are able to put yourself higher in your priorities.

  14. I think like with all things there should be a balance, you know? However I think it’s incredibly important to not forget to put yourself first sometimes!

  15. This is so me! I do need to focus on myself so I can be happier. Thanks for these steps! 67 pounds! Wow! I weigh 99 and people tell me all the time to eat more. Seems like you are on a much better path!

  16. I don’t think it’s selfish! I think it is a necessity! I usually take a day for myself, once a month. I actually call it “Selfish Sunday”, lol!

  17. I don’t think it’s selfish to focus on yourself! I think it’s very necessary, especially for new mothers. Great post, I think a lot of people can totally relate to this.

  18. I love that quote about the flight and putting your mask on first! I am an OB nurse and I always remind my patients that they can’t take care of their babies if they don’t take care of themselves!

  19. Great post indeed. If we don’t take care of ourselves than we are no good to anyone. I think it is so important for all moms to take a little bit of time each week at least for them self. Everyone needs some alone time to re energize. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Of course it’s not selfish. At all. In order to be the best we can be, we have to take care of ourselves first.

  21. It’s not selfish at all… When I lived in another state to take care of a relative who was battling cancer, I had no immediate family or friends around me, and I felt like I was drowning in isolation. I agree that it is important to get in touch with other adults, especially other females. If I had done that then, my time spent away from home might have been a lot better to handle and cope with.

  22. Thank you for this post. I know that in order to be a good mom, you have to take care of yourself. There isn’t anyone else to take care of you if you dont. I’m in the process of setting a few goals and trying to be a better mom.

  23. What an interesting post. I think it is very inspirational for those hard working mothers that are getting to stressed. Great to give yourself the extra breather.

  24. Girl, you are brilliant. All feelings are valid and we should allow ourselves to feel them and learned a few years ago to totally cherish my alone time. It’s usually late at night, but I love it!

  25. My first two years as a mom, I prioritized my son’s needs first and foremost. But now that he’s older and I’m getting older, I make it a point to focus on my needs as well, especially when it comes to skincare. 🙂

  26. How wonderful that you took charge and put priorities in order that worked for you. I think we can feel when things are off, whether we admit it or not.

  27. I know I am a better Mom when I take care of me first—I wake up an hour before the rest of the family just so I can have time and it’s not taking away from them.

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  35. 67 pounds? Cancer? Wow, Elayna. 🙁 You are one very strong woman. So much has happened, so much you’ve experienced. Most women would use excuses and choose to stay down. You’re one of the strongest women I am beginning to know. I hope your health is great now. I completely agree with what you have to say. When my kids father left me and I found myself in the shelter with three young kids, working, having a special needs daughter and in poverty, I found myself only sleeping 3-4 hours a night. My health declined. We thought it was MS, which was very scary, then Lupus, which we are still working on ruling out. I decided I needed to put myself first. Once I trained my body to sleep again, such a difference occurred. Until this day, when chaos hits I know I need to do something for me. Even if it’s a bubble bath. Thank you for your raw words and the wisdom!

    • Awwww. Thank you for your sweet words, Neyssa. It is my faith in God that definitely has brought me through everything. I will definitely be praying for your health and I’m excited that you are making choices toward becoming healthier and taking care of yourself in a holistic way. Big hug!

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  50. Elayna, I didn´t know you went through cancer too, wao you´re such a brave woman. God is always with you and continue to be there for you.
    I think it is not selfish to focus on your needs first, it is just something that we need as human beings. We need to recharge our batteries in order to be able to keep working properly. That batteries get full with those things that makes us happy. Therefore, it may be different to everyone.

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