Why your kids need you to put yourself first

Are you a parent who does everything for kids, family, friends and never puts yourself first? You may be starting your children on a tough cycle to break. Here's how to stop it.

Here’s why your kids need you to put yourself first—and yes, I I know that sounds counter-intuitive.

There’s so many reasons why it matters that you put yourself, your goals, your dreams at the top of your to do list. Why you should prioritise yourself.

Think back to when you were growing up. Many of us were told our world was one where it was necessary to put yourself last and everyone else ahead of you.

It was good manners and represented an ability to share and to co-exist and yeah, I get that a lot of that comes from a place of good intentions and the desire from adults to raise socialised families with no brats.

Trouble is, when you’ve been doing that for years, it doesn’t serve anyone. Because if we all put everyone’s needs ahead of our own we all end up burned out, resentful, exhausted, thinking, ‘Why won’t someone take care of me?’

That’s not good for you or anyone. So to put yourself first takes a little bit of courage. To say, ‘I matter, I’m important and my goals and dreams are important.’

If this is new to you, you might hear a little voice in your head saying, ‘No, I don’t matter’, and I totally understand that. It’s a mindset shift and goes against what we learned as kids, where the schoolyard phrase ‘she loves herself’ was used as insult rather than to praise emotional intelligence.

Here’s the thing though: nobody else is going to say you matter if you don’t. A lot of people are wishing and waiting and hoping for someone else to be able to give them the permission they really need to be able to give themselves to live life on their terms.

Right now, I can see the thought bubble above your head: ‘You don’t understand, you don’t know what’s going on for me, I have all these responsibilities to my kids and husband and parents and boss. Oh, and the dog needs a walk.’

I get all of that. I know everyone has a lot going on in their life and I want to fully honour and respect that.

It’s not easy to suddenly put yourself first.

But it is important and it is imperative.

It’s a must do.

When you start prioritising you and you put yourself first on your to do list, you are filling up your own cup. If you don't do that, your cup will become empty.

If your cup is running low, you don’t have energy to give to other people. If you fill it up, you are fulfilled, can contribute, can serve and even more than that, can be a great demonstration.

One of the things I love is talking to clients who are mums, who struggle big-time with the idea of putting yourself first.

In the first 90 days, the first year, you could even say the first 18 years of your child’s life, it’s so important for mums to be there to look after their child, for the sake of both.

Still, I find a lot of mums flip from, ‘I’m looking after me’ to ‘Now I’m looking completely after my kids and I don’t have time for myself.’

Unfortunately, that becomes the demonstration for the child, and the child sees, Okay, this is what it’s like to be a mum, to be a woman.

I have to look after everyone else and I’m not really allowed to prioritise myself.

So what happens out of a good intention is the cycle continues from generation to generation.

I love it when I get to work with a woman who says, ‘I want to be one of those mums who takes care of myself, and I want to have my own goals and my dreams and I want to be a demonstration to my kids for what they can do.’

When we look after our own dreams, challenges will appear and sometimes I think it’s the universe’s way of testing us … are you sure you want this?

Just know that when we live our dream we not only achieve what you want but are a demonstration for other people.

As US author Marianne Williamson says, ‘As a result of you shining your own light you unconsciously give other people permission to shine their own.’

I want to encourage you to prioritise your goals, prioritise your needs and wants. Start with one thing today—just change one small thing.

You get to take control of the remote. Don’t give yourself the burned small piece of steak. Go for a walk with a friend and let someone else supervise the kids’ homework.


One of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend

Matt Lavars life coaching
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute