A knowledgeable parent dispenses advice to harried mothers who’ve forgotten how to care for themselves.
Julie Burton was a busy mom of four, freelance writer, and fitness instructor when a panic attack left her “shaking, sobbing” on her sister’s front step. “You have to figure out a way to take care of yourself,” her sister urged. Having already overcome a battle with anorexia, Burton again devoted her energy to healing herself, discovering that “the only way that a mother can truly be present, engaged, connected, and nurturing with her child is if she’s present, engaged, connected, and nurturing with herself.” To help other women who feel they’ve sacrificed their health and identity to caring for their kids, she offers eight “self-care solutions,” such as “honor your body,” “cultivate happiness and joy,” “find gratitude and connection,” “set boundaries,” and “never give up.” Burton draws extensively on her own parenting experiences as well as interviews with other mothers to clearly illustrate why women must embrace self-care and how they can do so, especially given the intense demands of modern parenthood. One mom confesses: I am starting to realize that I need to develop a sense of myself if I am going to be a good parent for them. So…I go out with friends, exercise, and try to relax. The debut book is full of gentle, if somewhat shopworn, admonishments to give up the quest for perfection and to focus on living in the moment—Burton is all about support, not judgment, and many of her tips would be easy to put into action. Yet she writes, as she acknowledges, from a place of privilege. Blithe advice to make time for yoga classes and get more sleep is of little help to single moms stretched to the limit or those who work long hours or multiple jobs to support their families. Burton also unquestioningly buys into the tired notion that “women are the managers of the family, which includes being manager of their children and, oftentimes, of the relationship with their partners.” While she helpfully devotes a chapter to nurturing a relationship with a spouse, the idea that many women would be better able to care for themselves if their partners shouldered a greater share of the parenting burden gets short shrift.
A much-needed reminder that it’s OK, even necessary, for mothers to consider their own needs, in addition to their children’s.