My husband often wonders what it is that I need a “break” from as a mother of three girls five and under. After thinking about the question, I have finally come up with an accurate response: “I need a break from being needed.”
In 1943, a theory was proposed by Abraham Maslow that outlines human needs. Maslow asserts that there are three types of needs: basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment. There are five levels. The first two levels are our most basic needs. We need food, water, warmth, and rest, as well as safety and security. The next type of need is psychological as we need a sense of belongingness and love, and on the next level, a sense of self-esteem. The highest level is that of self-actualization. Thank you Intro. to Psychology, I am still using this nugget of information in my life today.
Hierarchy of Needs
As caregivers, we are required to meet the needs of our children. Depending on the age of the children, the level to which they need you changes. Newborns need you for everything, so you are responsible for all basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs of your baby. It is exhausting, but as time passes, they begin to learn things like self-soothing, and they take that first step of independence.
Having a five year old, a three year old, and a two year old, my girls are all at different levels of learning independent functioning. All three are finally able to self-feed and sleep through the night. Nonetheless, I remember quite clearly struggling to meet the needs of a hungry newborn and a fussy toddler while my eldest played independently with her toys. The days are long and are full of meeting the most basic of needs, let alone worrying about their self-actualization.
I just want everyone to be fed, feel loved, and sleep through the night regularly. Forget about meeting my own needs, right? Wrong.
I need moments to not be “needed.”
I need regular intervals of someone besides me, be it my husband, my parents, or my babysitter taking care of the needs of my children. That is what I mean when I say I need a “break.” The mental load involved in taking care of the needs of my three children is heavy, and it is hard work. If I do not get “breaks,” I wouldn’t be able to meet my own needs on a regular basis. It is important to take care of ourselves on a regular basis, as well.
Self-care is a bit of a buzz word. But, I am looking beyond just filling my basic needs and more focused on filling those higher levels of need, including love, belonging, and self-esteem. For me, writing about my experiences goes a long way to filling that need. I am still working on how to regularly get breaks though. Asking for help from my support system on a regular basis is a good start. It is amazing how much better I feel when I do take a “break” from being needed.