Self Care seems to be quite the buzz word lately. When I’ve read articles on it, many people use it as an excuse to treat yourself to extravagant things. That may be fine every once in a while but do I really have to wait until I can afford a full spa day in order to provide self care? If that’s the case, then I’m looking at maybe one opportunity for self care each year….using a gift certificate that someone gave me.
So let’s talk about some more appropriate self care options that we can use during the entire year…. intentional things that we MAKE time for.
- Think about what makes you feel special on the outside. Is it lounging in sweats after a long day at work and feeling like you can do whatever you want? Or is it getting dressed up and going out to see the world beyond the 4 walls of your house? I tend to alternate between the 2 depending on the time of year….during the 9 months that I work, its option A and the summer tends to be option B. Either way, set aside one day a month to do this. Does that mean you have to save enough money for a sitter and a fancy meal out? Nope. How about a winery for a $5 wine tasting with a friend while your spouse watches the kids? Our older ones have started babysitting our younger ones but their limit is about 1-2 hours before sibling rivalry kicks in so everything we plan has to be short and sweet!
- What about feeling appreciated/heard? I have a few ideas for that…..
- Set aside a time each day to talk to your spouse. I remember as a kid, my parents would sit in the formal living room every day for about a half hour to talk and reconnect about how their day went and what was on the upcoming agenda. My husband and I try to do this as often as possible. We don’t have it as structured as my parents did but it’s a start.
- Journal – I just started doing this and it is so refreshing. I can “yell and scream” with written word as much as I want and the only person who will ever see it is me!
- GO TO THERAPY – I can’t stress this enough. Going to therapy is not a negative thing and you do not need to be diagnosed with any mental illness to do it. It seriously feels like going to a spa and I call it my “spa day”. I go to sooo much therapy with our younger two children who do have mental health concerns and come from trauma. That therapy is structured and we leave with homework for both the child and parents to work on. If you need that kind of therapy, it’s an option. But so is therapy where you just want to be heard by someone who isn’t related or connected to you and who will listen without judgement. I only go twice a month for one hour but it is the best hour! Find a therapist that you feel comfortable with even if you have to try out a few. For me, I wanted someone who works with kids from trauma and adoption so that she was knowledgeable in what I was going through at home so I kept looking til I found a therapist who met my needs.
- Pick a go-to 10 minute relaxing activity – a sort of pick-me-up on a long day. My warm weather one is a cup of tea on the front porch while waiting for the kids to come home from school. I leave all the chores and paperwork that are always glaring at me inside and I head out to the fresh air. My cold weather activity is to paint my nails. A cheap new bottle once a year and a quiet bedroom that kids can’t enter….more on the bedroom thing later.
- Choose one or two nights per week for the kids to go to bed early. Your older kids can take books (or their beloved screens) to their room as long as they are IN THEIR ROOM! We try to do this at least twice a month. It allows us to spend time together (read: alone), even if that time is spent watching The Daily Show 😊
- Make your bedroom off limits. I know many will disagree with this one but I’ve got to add it because I am so happy we did it. We got this idea from one of the first adoptive couples retreats that we ever attended. One of the sessions was on keeping your marriage strong through the trials of raising a child from trauma. We knew the statistics of couples staying together when a child has severe behavioral needs so I was eager to learn from this couple who had been there, done that. The idea is that your bedroom is for you and your spouse only. They even suggested no pictures of your children in the room but we haven’t done that yet….mostly because I would then need to find something else to hang on the walls. This means that kids must knock and be invited into the room. They can’t hang on your bed to watch tv or walk in anytime they are having an “emergency”. Are there exceptions to this? Of course! We’ve had sick kids that have slept by our bed. But for the most part, they know that space is off limits which creates a sanctuary for us.
Feeling like you have a bigger identity beyond being a mom:
- Take up a hobby or join a club – If there’s no time to go to a club, what about an online book club? Looking to learn a new skill? The almighty YouTube can help with that.
- Set a goal to accomplish one extra thing besides your usual activities – every summer I make a list of what books I want to read and I set time aside to complete that goal.
- Dream big – I love to travel. Do I have the money for several trips a year? Heck no! But I’ve planned out what I would do if money were no object. I’ve researched every last little detail of a vacation that we may never take. But it allows my mind to explore and dream.
We’ve all heard the saying “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else”. Self care does not have to cost a fortune or mean that you need to convince your parents to take the kids for a long weekend. Just find what fills you up and make it a point to BE PRESENT when doing it.