I got some lousy health news this week. I’m not ready to talk about it yet, but I will say that one of the realizations that followed this news is that I need to work on what is referred to as “Self-Care.”
We know as parents, and especially as moms, that we spend the majority of our lives taking care of other people. I’ve written before on this blog that there are always snacks to be made, tears to dry, and backpacks to fill. Parents are, simply put, caretakers. Care-taking has a bit of a negative connotation, but self-care is something to be appreciated and practiced.
We spend many hours providing our children and other loved ones with care from the simple to the more complex. Today I’m taking time to nod toward mommy-care and lay out some basic self-care guidelines. It’s hard to learn and commit to self-care. You have to start basic. So I’m starting with the most basic learning tool. The Alphabet.
A-Aromatherapy-buy a diffuser, talk to “that friend” who knows about this stuff, make your house smell like a yoga studio before class, and ignore the complaints of your child (“What Stinks? Ewww!”)
B-Bathe. There are 24.5 minutes per average On Demand children’s television program. That is enough time to run a bath, put the bath toys to the floor, turn on your diffuser, and soak for a bit until you hear the Octonauts theme song, designating that your time is up. It is worth it every time.
C-Compliment File. When I was prepping this post, I found some self-care ideas online, and my favorite was the idea of writing down every compliment you receive and filing them away for when you are feeling less than stellar about yourself. (idea courtesy of TinyBuddha.com)
D-Do something you love. You need to do things outside of being a parent that make you happy. It can be a hobby like painting or an activity like soccer, it just has to be something that brings you joy.
E-Earrings. My sister told me once that on gloomy days she always puts on ‘fabulous earrings’ and she feels better. I’ve tried it, and it works. Even if you only wear them around your bedroom.
F-Friends. Surround yourself with people who appreciate the wonderful person you are. For me that means people who make me laugh, people who know my fears, and people who get my struggles.
G-Gratitude. In this post I talked about our family’s gratitude practice. Gratitude breeds happiness.
H-Help. Say yes to help. From spouses, grandparents, babysitters, friends, neighbors, your kids’ s friend’s parents, your barista, the person behind you in line at Target.
I-Invest in yourself. I’ve written before about the importance of investing in yourself. The investment can be as small as a Starbucks Chai Tea, but the dividends are great.
J-Journal. When I read The Happiness Project I loved the author’s idea of a ‘one word a day’ journal. Time to write a whole page documenting my feelings and life’s happenings? Yeah, right. But one word? I can do that. My journal is even on my IPhone.
K-Kill time. At the height of my Type A-ness my husband accused me of being impossible of just killing time, and he was right. This, of course, was before the creation of Pinterest. Sometimes ‘mindlessness’ is important, too.
L-Laugh. I gravitate towards seriousness, so I make sure the movies and TV shows I watch and the books I read are brimming with humor. Really silly, stupid humor like this.
M-Mindfulness/Meditation. You might think you can’t meditate, but like a toddler who tells you he is “not tired,” you’re wrong. Read this.
N-Nourish. Nourish your mind, your body, and your soul. For me this means reading, eating healthy food, and praying.
O-Oxygen Mask. You need to secure your mask before helping children and people acting like children who are seated near you. True for airplanes, true for life.
P-Pedicures. Cliche? Yes. Important nonetheless. I made my husband go for a pedicure once. I think it brought about a new level of understanding in our relationship. And no, he didn’t get polish.
Q-Quiet. For the more introverted types, nothing sounds as beautiful as quiet. My husband bought me noise canceling headphones for my first Mother’s Day. That’s love.
R-Re-connect with yourself. As much as I hope this blog identifies and helps other people, it is also a very selfish way for me to re-discover who I am post children. Stopping to think about who I have become and moving past who I was has been like meeting someone fantastic all over again.
S-Set Limits. Set them with people, with responsibilities, with activities. It’s ok to skip the birthday party of your kid’s classmate. It’s ok to cancel plans if you’re not up to it. It’s a self-preservation thing.
T-Treat yourself well. I always ask myself, would I treat my best friend the way I’m treating myself?
U-Underpromise. My brother is Buddhist and told me once that most problems are the result of expectations. I underpromise or don’t promise at all and therefore set no expectations with myself or with others. Anything I manage is a bonus. This has been crucial to accepting myself as is.
V-Vacation. It can be to someplace exotic, or to someplace simple. Just set aside time to relax and reset. And note that vacations are not the synonymous with family trips.
W-Water. Every day I fill a clear glass pitcher with 64 oz of water, a tsp of 100% cranberry juice, and 1/2 a lemon. Then I leave it on the counter. The lemon makes it tasty and the cranberry makes it pink so I can tell how much I have drank.
X-X-ercise. Yes, my 6 year old would point out that this misspelling is like cheating, but one thing I don’t cheat on is working out. It clears my mind, gives me energy, and helps me to function physically.
Y-Yoga pants. Some days are just yoga pants days. Not forcing yourself into uncomfortable pants, or uncomfortable situations is important to self-care.
Z-Zzzs. Obviously, sleep in at the center of self-care and is very hard to come by for many parents (myself included). Sleep at night, rest when you can. Allow your mind and body the break they deserve.
I can’t think of a mom who doesn’t need to work on her self-care practices. Maybe I just don’t hang out with those kind of people (see Letter F-Friends).
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere”*
This Mother’s Day, I’m revisiting the idea of self-care. Won’t you join me?
*Many people attribute this to Buddha, but it actually comes from John Amodeo’s The Authentic Heart.