I didn't have a good week last week. Everyone is healthy, fed and happy and I got stuff done, but I felt very stretched and tired, overworked and underappreciated.
When I thought about it though, I realized I hadnt' done anything for myself all week. Every time I had a free moment I was focused on accomplishing something else for someone else. I did nothing for ME! I put myself on the bottom of the pile and in the end, that's how I felt.
It happens more often then I'd like to admit, and I would guess it happens to most of us, fairly often.
So, in an effort to stop letting it happen to you, here are 5 ways to move self care to the top of your to do list so that you can take the time for you when you need to.
I put myself on the bottom of the pile and in the end, that's how I felt"
1. Know what works for you and schedule time for it
Different things work well for different people when it comes to self care. Some of us like a good book and a hot cup of tea. Other like a workout or a run. I like to craft or journal. (I like those other things too, but if I had an entire day to work in my journal (it's a bullet journal and its SO FUN!) I would love that!). It doesn't matter what it is you like to do, just make sure you make time to do it. Figure out what you need and fit it into your schedule. Maybe it's a yoga class a couple times a week, or some time at the pool. Or 2 hours a week at a coffee shop to read or write in piece. Put it on your calendar and stick to it.
2. Take care of yourself
Eat properly (most of the time), sleep and exercise when you can. Even if those aren't things that work to re-charge your batteries. Your batteries won't run at all if there is no fuel behind them, so make sure to take time to take care of yourself. Exercise doesn't have to be a 3 hour work out, a 10 minute walk might be enough. Eating properly doesn't have to be a gourmet meal with 7 courses. It just needs to be healthy choices that include more the the leftovers from your kids plates.
Don't let your batteries get too zero so that when it comes time for your own self care, you have the energy to fit it in.
3. Make a list of easy options
As much as we try, there will always be days where the baby didn't sleep, so you didn't sleep, where the toddler is throwing a tantrum so getting them to the gym is a no go, or where you just have so much running through your head that you can't sit still even if you tried.
For days like that have a list somewhere (I keep one in my journal!) of quick ways to re-charge. A fancy coffee or another treat, 20 minutes alone (even in the bathroom), taking the kids to a play at a park (indoor or outdoor), have a dance party, eat some candy, watch a funny YouTube video, sing, burn a candle or diffuse some oils. There are TONNES of ideas out there, you just need to find some. Then make a list so that you can find it and when you feel like you're going to break, find the list and do something from it.
4. Take advantage of help when it's offered
If you ask, most people are willing to help you when you really need it - provided you don't take advantage. It's hard to ask though, and it can be really hard to accept help from people. Accept it though. Especially if you're feeling burnt out. Even an hour to go grocery shopping without kids in tow can be mind altering and enough to re-charge.
If you don't have people around, look for other ways to get help. Our community centre used to have a drop off program where you could leave the kids for a couple hours and go to the store (or wherever). The town now offers a Friday evening program that is AMAZING. You can drop your kids off for 2 hours and go for dinner, or have dinner at home, or shop, or whatever. Their are other similar programs out there - you just need to find them. Use them. They help!
5. When all else fails, wine
or beer, or chocolate, or shopping. Not all the time, but when you need to, it's okay to indulge every once and a while. (and yes, it's okay to have a glass of wine, or two while nursing. And no need to time it around babies schedule or worry that they're going to want to eat again soon.)
Please don't feel guilty when you take the time that you need. At the end of the day, in most cases, moms have the ultimate responsibility. If one of my kids needs a doctors appointment, I need to schedule it or to delegate it to my husband to do. If someone gets invited to a birthday party, I'm the one who gets to hunt for the present. I have to check for homework or notes from school, pay for pizza lunch and make sure library books get returned on time (which I'm REALLY bad at!). It's all on me, unless I pass it on. My husband is a wonderful husband and father, but I'm the one with the responsibility for this stuff. So I need to take time away from it all for me. When I meet a friend for lunch, or stop folding laundry to go for a run, or spend time with my journal, it helps me become a better mother, partner and friend and that's important too.
Do what you need to do to be the best you, you can be and everyone will be happier in the long run. (how's that for a cheesy ending!)