Practicing Self Care

I was reading this book the other day and must have been distracted because I kept reading the same paragraph over and over.  I realized it was because I haven't taken the time to evaluate what makes me feel cared for, what drains me and what I need to do even if I don't like doing it.

As women, and mothers, we talk a lot about self-care, but what does that mean?  I think it goes beyond taking time for just ourselves. Raising kids is hard work and we often focus most of our time on them and their needs.

In order for me to care for myself, I need to understand and define my needs.  I need to understand how to support myself emotionally and physically on a regular basis instead of waiting until I'm at my breaking point to give myself a time-out.

I wrote the other day how I was looking forward to school starting and getting my kids and myself back into a routine, but the more I reflected on this the more I realized that having structure often means scheduling too many things into my day. Raising three boys in different stages of growing up, with different interests and activities, means I'm often the parent who drives them to practices and games, checks their homework, signs the permission slips and school planners. Add my own commitments into the mix and it's a recipe for disaster if I am doing it all solo.

Sometimes I'm guilty of putting too much pressure on myself. I feel compelled to be perfect, to be the Super Mom who does it all, even though I know this is impossible. Sometimes it seems like everything falls on my shoulders. I still don't understand how my husband doesn't feel this pressure. Or maybe he does in a different way (this is something I've tried to tap into a lot lately, but men are funny about their emotions).

While we're on the topic of stress, why do I always have the nagging thought there's never enough time? The experts tell you to get more sleep, cook healthier meals at home, take your kids to the park, read more, exercise more, clean your house, landscape your yard, and the list goes on!  Who has time to do all of the things

Prioritize, they say.  Okay, what do I do first?  What is most important when everything is important? It's a set up for failure. I know you're feeling me on this one.

So back to the topic at hand.  As a firm believer in writing things down, I decided to make a list of things I need to do to care for myself every day, even if it's only five minutes.  Here we go:

Get out of the house/office for at least 30 minutes a day. 
When I'm at work I often get so involved in a task that I "forget" to take a break.  I need to walk away from the monitor and reset my brain.  A change of scenery makes my mind more alert and fresh air is good for me. I used to walk on breaks but then started reading instead (no interruptions from children) but then I'd get home from work, hungry, stressed and unprepared to tackle household things.  I need to get outside and walk each day.

Practice saying "no."
Ahh, this is a tough one.  Saying no is easier said than done.  I have to consciously remember that saying yes to things my mind and heart aren't fully in is not serving anyone.  I struggle with hurting other's feelings by saying no, but in the end I find that I hold resentment that could have been avoided had I been more assertive.

Speak kindly to myself.
This. This is what I need to start doing.  I hear that internal voice 24/7 and she matters.  Instead of berating her for missing a workout or not eating perfectly each day, I need to tell her it's okay and give her permission to move on.  It's time I rewired my brain to be kind to myself in addition to being kind to others.  It's so easy to be hard on myself and I've been doing it too long.  This stops now.

Read more.
I'm an avid reader, but lately I haven't had the time to finish a book in a few days like I used to.  The kids always need something and as much as I tell them to go bug their dad, they still come to me with the big stuff.  I'm going to read a minimum of 20 pages a day.  The goal is to read 24 books a year which I used to do before I had kids!

Indulge a little.
For too long I've told myself I can't do this or that because I have some crazy idea of how things should be, and it's usually based on some ridiculous thing I've read or heard.  Can't have that slice of cheesecake.  It's too expensive to get a manicure.  You don't need that new sweater.  Life is too short to put so many restrictions on myself.  Instead, I'm going to give myself permission, enjoy it and move on.  Moderation and balance are important.

There you have it, the first draft of my self-care to-do list.

With a little more attention focused on taking care of me, I will thrive as a wife, mom and working woman.  Like I always say: you can have it all, just not all at once!

What do you do to practice self-care? Hit me with your ideas in the comments!


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