We hear it all the time…
“Don’t forget to make time for yourself.”
“You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.”
“Everybody needs some me-time.”
“If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.”
Let me say, I wholeheartedly agree that these “friendly reminders” that we hear all the time from the people in our circle are full of truth. Taking care of ourselves is one of our responsibilities. We can’t pour into others if we ourselves are empty. If we are constantly giving, giving, giving, and not giving ourselves a break, we will burn out eventually. WE KNOW THAT BECAUSE WE HAVE EXPERIENCED IT MANY TIMES. For some of us, burning the candle at both ends has just become how we are.
But often, when some well-being person reminds us to take care of ourselves, it feels like they are adding another thing for us to do, when we are already drowning.
Self-care? Who has time for that? I work full time, I have a house to take care of, and I have all these little kids who can’t take care of themselves! I can’t even finish a thought without being interrupted. The laundry has been sitting here for days and needs to be folded before the pile gets any bigger (or before I need to wash it all over again), but I can’t finish it because one kid just poured his sippy cup out all over the couch, the other two are fighting over a toy, and someone just showed up at the door. I have so much on my to-do list, and I haven’t showered in two days. These kids will not take a nap, and as much as I would LOOOOOVE to get away from this chaos right now and lavish myself with love and care (starting with a shower, and then sitting down and basking in glorious silence) how am I going to pull that off? It’s taking all of my time and focus just to survive and keep the kids alive! Yes, I know I need to take care of myself. Yes, I know I’m a hot mess. Yes, I know I need to do better. Yes, I know I’m on the verge of crazy. I’m painfully aware of all these things.
Oh, the irony of all of it. It’s like trying to grasp laundry detergent with our hands as we pour it into the washing machine. The time that we would like to have to focus on our own needs just slips through our fingers. We’re hanging on by a thread and praying it all just doesn’t frazzle apart. The very thing we hear all the time, that we need to make more time to take care of ourselves, reminds us that it’s one more thing that we are supposed to be doing, that we are not getting right. What is supposed to make us feel better actually covers us up in more guilt.
Who is going to make sure everybody gets fed? Who is going to deal with our deadlines for projects at work? Who is going to clean the house? Who is going to pay attention to the kids? These are things that only I can do!
Or so I tell myself.
There are times in life that we need to be assertive. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. We need to decide what we want, and we need to do it. Sometimes, self-care if more important than the laundry, or the dishes, or taking care of the kids, or cooking, or the thing your child’s teacher needs volunteers for, or whatever else is demanded of you. The truth is, all of these things that I mentioned, can either be delegated or they can wait.
There is no shame in finding a babysitter so that you can take care of yourself for a few hours. It might be what you AND your kids need. You may feel guilty for walking away from your responsibilities and your kids so that you can focus on you, but do it anyway.
How often do we need self-care? It is different for everyone. We are all unique, with different responsibilities, different needs, in different seasons of life. Ask yourself if you are in need of some down time, and trust your own intuition. Don’t let guilt or the opinions of others get you down. Yes, it may be true that your kids need clean clothes, but they need a sane, calm mother even more. And believe me: You deserve it. No matter what kind of mother you are, you deserve it. Repeat after me: I DESERVE IT.
What you do for self-care depends on what you like and what makes you feel like you. Some suggestions may be:
- Working out
- Getting your hair or nails done
- Spending time with friends
- Having hobbies
- Going on a walk
- Taking a shower or a hot bath
- Getting a massage
- Taking the time to fix your hair and make-up
- Reading a book
- Taking a nap
- Going out by yourself (even if it’s to the grocery store)
- Anything else that relaxes you and makes you feel refreshedIf you fail at self-care, don’t beat yourself up. Just make up your mind to start somewhere. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and let go of perfectionism. Self-care is such an important discipline to incorporate into your busy life. You will be surprised at how much you will start to flourish by doing it.