Self-Care Is Essential

 Take care of YOU - Read, Write, Take a Bath, Go for a Walk. You choose!

Take care of YOU - Read, Write, Take a Bath, Go for a Walk. You choose!

Based on episode 3 of the Mom Mentor podcast.

I hear it all the time… “Self-care…who has time? I’m barely keeping up with caring for my kids.”

So how does a mom who is overwhelmed with caring for her kids and trying to stay connected to her husband care for herself? <-Tweet

Well I can share a few things that I did when I was in the busiest season of my life and then I’ll share the steps that were necessary so maybe you can takes these steps too. Because this self-care, it is not a luxury…it’s essential. <-Tweet

Here’s a quote from Psych Central, the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health online resource, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health…Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”

I can tell you, that when I was in the thick of momming, the not-enough times I chose self-care when it seemed impossible were greatly rewarded! They refreshed and replenished my weary worn out self! Self-care allowed me to feel better when I was super stressed. The result was a happier healthier me which influenced for good the people around me, especially my kids and hubby.

Here’s a little self-care story…

It was Christmastime 1994. My youngest was under two months old, and my other girls were four, six, and 17. Though I was exhausted from taking care of my young family and breastfeeding frequently, I was my usual bound and determined self. This Christmas would be perfect!

We would go as a family to a field to cut down our fresh beautiful tree (no matter my leaking breasts!). We would go to our church’s Advent Wreath ceremony. We would decorate to the hilt – lights twinkling everywhere inside and out, candles in the windows, meaningful Christmas ornaments, the Santa collection (so big and varied, we were on the Today show a couple of years ago showcasing our treasures), the Nutcracker collection, the snow globe collection, the train sets, fresh greens in every room even the bathrooms, bedecked with coordinating ribbon and gold and silver balls. I would bake the traditional 10 cookie and bar varieties, always adding at least two new recipes…and I would deliver beautifully decorated mugs filled with these goodies to all my girl’s teachers (there were many!).

I would fulfill my children’s every wish and deliver the most magical of Christmases. And, of course, I would host the all-day Christmas buffet with a party of about 25. Why wouldn’t I? I loved doing all this, didn’t I?

Well I did love it, but in hindsight, the ultimate self-care that year would’ve been to allow someone else to host the party. Would that have killed anyone? No one except me and my ego that had me wrapping up more than gifts in my self-proclaimed identity, “THE family Christmas hostess.”

About a week or so before Christmas, I knew I was headed for a meltdown. I was in my kitchen looking over recipes and loudly rifling through cabinets to find the right pan, muttering to myself. My daughter walked into the kitchen and hearing my exasperated exclamations that don’t bear repeating, she looked at me wide-eyed, “What’s the matter mommy? Why are you so mad?”

That stopped me in my tracks. I knew I had to do something. I calmed myself down and thought about what I could do to refill my very empty emotional, psychological, physical cup.

I had heard about a local church hosting a glorious Christmas Concert. Very much unlike myself – I didn’t like going places alone and self-care felt selfish – I asked my husband if he minded that I attend this concert BY MYSELF?? Bearing the brunt of my mounting Christmas crazies, Chris happily helped me into my coat and pushed me cheerily out the door

I felt excited and nervous. Was I really doing this? I made my way to the church, parked, and joined the throngs entering the building. The greeters welcomed us warmly. I took my seat. I may have shed a little tear, amazed that I was sitting here in this pew by myself, quietly, anonymously, ready to receive during this season of giving. Aaaahhhh!

The music began. Oh my! Spectacular voices raised, a full band, liturgical dancers. The story of Christmas unfolded before my eyes through music and movement. It was a balm to my spirit. I was immersed in breathtaking beauty, returned to the true meaning of Christmas. This was exactly what I needed.

I returned home refreshed and ready to continue creating seasonal joy with a little less intensity, a little less expectation, a little more focus on Jesus…and a list of Christmas dinner menu items that I readily assigned to the many adults coming for the celebration. Thus began the Christmas Day Buffet Dinner that continues to this day.

So what can you do about self-care? Here are some steps you can take. Click if you’d like this FREE download <- Tweet

  1. STOP – Every change, every intentional step starts with stopping. We live in a whirlwind of activity. You have to step away from it all so you have space to think. This doesn’t have to take long. It can take the time you have. 10 minutes? 20? Commit to stopping for a set time.

  2. Grab Paper and Pen or Your Computer – Set a timer for the time you’ve determined. And ponder these questions:

    1. What is the one thing you miss most about your life before kids?

    2. What is one of your favorite things to do that you haven’t done in a long time?

    3. What are you yearning for?

    4. What do you miss most about you? What do you wish you could do/have time for?

    5. What has refreshed you in the past, when you had fewer obligations? Cooking a nice meal? Writing? Painting? Taking a bath? Exercising?

    6. What do you need?

  3. Choose ONE Thing – When we’re stressed, overwhelmed, or just plain busy, we tend to think big in terms of change. We think generally. “I just need help!” “If only I had less commitments!” That’s part of the reason change seems impossible. And if we do try to change too much at a time, we tend to fail soon enough anyway. It’s too much for us. What is the one achievable thing that would most refresh, fill, satisfy you? The one thing that you need most?

  4. Write Down Your Self-Care Goal – What will you do, specifically? When will you do it? What arrangements if any need to be made to accomplish your goal?

  5. Do It – I’m cheering you on and I’d love to know how it goes!