It took me more than six years of parenthood to prioritize self-care in my life. Like you, probably, I’d heard about it many times. I could rattle off lists of common activities that would constitute self-care. And I perpetually promised myself I would prioritize it – as soon as I had time.
I can’t be the only one who has too long equated motherhood and particularly stay-at-home motherhood with having to do and be all of the things for my children. Especially with all of the extra appointments, therapies, meetings, and now virtual schooling that Grace has needed, I feel like I’m failing when I’m not on top of my (usually translates to her) stuff. So, I throw myself into it hard while also caring for another human, trying to be the best (okay, I’ll settle for stellar) wife, generally managing a household, and working part-time from home.
I don’t have time for that one more thing…what was that again? Oh yes, me!
Sound familiar? Lay your excuses aside and hear me:
- You love fiercely and care deeply and wholly for the people in your life. You are always giving them your best and doing what they need.
- You are a, nay THE primary, person in your life. So,
- You must give yourself your best and do what you need. Otherwise? You’re useless to those other people you love so much. It may not happen today or this week. But at some point, you will be so empty, you will have nothing left to give them. You’ll be a shallow and minimally cranky shell of the person you deserve to be.
Ask me how I know.
I was in the middle of a virtual school day a couple of months ago when a reminder pinged on my phone. This is not unusual; this is how I remember to live my life on any given day. But this reminder was different. It read:
I need to get out of this hole.
Its poignance struck me hard. During my nightly ramblings of reminders, half asleep and after a couple of glasses of wine, I had dictated this message. It was a perfect indicator of where I found myself in the evenings. Exhausted. Spent. Useless. I was buried under anxiety and approaching depression as I daily checked off the boxes for everyone else in my family but neglected the one who needed the most attention: myself.
The pitfall of self-care isn’t being aware of its value, choosing an activity, or even having the desire to practice it. The biggest barrier is all of the excuses we come up with as to why it won’t work for us right now. So, here’s my pearl of wisdom, friend. Lean in close. Ready?
ASK FOR HELP!
- Schedule the coming week with your partner and ensure your self-care times are included
- Delegate household tasks
- Take turns handling night waking and early risers
- Lean on responsible siblings
- Ask family members or friends to video chat with your kids while you take time to yourself
- Teach your children that even if you are in the same room, you deserve time to yourself to exercise, read, etc.
- Ask a friend or neighbor to sit with your children while you step out of the house, even if its just for a few minutes
- Stop feeling guilty about asking for and doing what you need
And then? Accept the help. And use it to prioritize the thing the refuels you, so you can be present and resilient for yourself and those you love.
Once you realize there is a way to fit self-care into your routine, you can begin to realize how caring for yourself will benefit your whole family. Are you ready to make a commitment to self-care? Start with these 3 Steps to a Sustainable Self-care Practice.