Did you know that nature supports mothers taking time out for themselves? And that if you mess with nature you end up actually being a less-caring mother — on a PHYSICAL level?
We have a little hormone running through us called oxytocin. You might remember it from your pregnancy and birth — it’s the one that facilitates birth and helps with lactation and bonding with your baby. It is even sometimes referred to as the “bonding hormone”.
Now most mothers forget about oxytocin once they’ve weaned their babies. So what most don’t know is that oxytocin is decreased by what I will call “over-care”. When you give and give and give and look after everyone else’s needs and not your own and put yourself last and tire yourself out. When you come to that point where your partner asks you for a bit of loving and you shout back “I just have nothing left to give!” you know you’re running out of oxytocin.
Nature does not want you to be self-sacrificing. Or to give up on the things that bring you pleasure and rejuvenation. In fact, if your oxytocin levels drop too low you won’t even bond with your kids anymore. You can feel tired, drained, pessimistic and sucked-dry and you may even consider eating your offspring (or at least trying to send them back from where they came!). We need oxytocin to empathise with, trust and love other human beings (including our own kids).
So if you’re already feeling like a murderous parent, here are some things you can do to nurture yourself and at the same time up your oxytocin levels and help yourself and your entire family:
* Get loads of hugs. From anyone and everyone. Eight hugs a day — minimum!
* Hold hands and make eye contact. With your kids, your spouse, your friends. Even a handshake will release small amounts of oxytocin. Long candlelit dinners gazing into your loved-one’s eyes are better.
* Watch a chick-flick! Tearjerkers are awesome oxytocin stimulators.
* Join a choir or go to a karaoke night with your friends. Singing in company makes our oxytocin sing too.
* Take up the tango. Or any kind of partner dancing that takes your fancy.
* Do something scary — jump out of a plane, ride a rollercoaster, play paintball.
* Take a walk with a friend.
* Give and accept love and gifts.
* Spend time with your friends.
* If you can’t get out to connect, at least pop onto Facebook and connect with your friends virtually.
* Eat bananas, eggs and peppers.
* Listen to soothing music.
* Breathe deeply.
Make sure you are taking time out every day to nurture yourself and your oxytocin and you will be a much more empathetic, kind, caring parent. So the next time your partner asks you why you are going out AGAIN for a movie, dinner and dancing evening, tell them it is essential for the survival of your children!
Image – Getty