“Self-Care” seems to be a phrase that is tossed about more often lately. At first glance it may appear to be a “feel-good” term, and utterly impossible. When your schedule is full, the little ones depend on you, and the chores never end, mama can often end up feeling drained.
Admittedly, I can be really bad at self-care. But I am trying. Here is what I have discovered.
Self-Care is about boundaries, a foundation, values, and awareness, in order to have a nourished, sustainable mama.
Sometimes it is easier to say no to someone in the community, than to ourselves. We pass up the volunteer sheet, but then add expectations to our to-do list. I’ve found that the “shoulds” happen eventually, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this week.
For example, I purposefully choose homeschooling materials with the intent to “cycle back” and revisit topics as interests/ages change. Then, I don’t feel pressured to “push” a certain memorization list, a project, or whatever we are needing to set aside for awhile. I can facilitate learning, rather than adding unnecessary obligations to myself as a teacher.
I know that my children learn to use the potty, sleep at night, dress themselves, and hold a fork eventually. So why do I get all worked up, insisting it must be today? I can allow the teaching of these skills to come at a gentle pace, instead of replacing mama’s lunchtime.
I can get excited about preparing from-scratch meals (“it’s healthy and frugal,” I tell myself). But no one really minds if we munch on a bowl of leftover rice instead of homemade bread again, because we had a family storytime instead of mama’s baking time. (How many times have I stayed in the kitchen late at night to prepare breakfast? Do I have a healthy boundary in that area?)
I shared an inspiring quote on Facebook a couple weeks ago, from one of Lisa Byrne’s classes. She said, “When we feel drained, we have a boundary problem.” I’ve mulled this over, and I think it is true.
A foundation of knowing where my strength comes from, keeps me focused on healthy choices. It is easily to become disgruntled at friends or family for not helping to keep me happy, to pick up a sweet treat to keep me going, or to complain. These superficial, temporary, and inappropriate choices usually mean I am straying from the deep well of nourishment. (Oh, the sustaining refreshment of my Savior’s Living Water will never let me down.)
During those intense seasons, such as adjusting to a new baby, an out-of-state move, or other transition, it helps to have a good vision of our values. When everything seems to be in chaos, it’s hard to know where to start, and what to give up, otherwise. What am I committed to?
But amid that craziness, the anchor of vision keeps me stable and avoiding anger or regret in the split second-decisions. (Quick- I have about 20 minutes until the next baby feeding- Am I more committed to keeping in touch with family and sharing baby photos or soaking in a healing herbal bath?) Both are good things, but I care for myself when I choose what I value most (and I’ve chosen either one at various times).
Instead of rushing to do the next thing, it helps to consciously evaluate the situation. When I am aware of my emotional responses (and why), my physical needs, and my hopes, I am less likely to respond in an “end of my rope” kind of way to those around me.
When I choose healthy self-care, I am modeling appropriate life choices for my children, as well as giving them the benefit of a more-equipped mama.