Self Care is so important but unfortunately we don't always practice it!
A few years ago I was a part of a group of parents with special needs children. Every couple of weeks we would get together and talk. Either to vent about what was going on in our lives, talk about specific needs or issues that we had or hear guest speakers.
This group was something that I looked forward to because I NEEDED that community, that tribe of individuals who were going through the same journey as I was. I had an outlet.
After a while the group stopped meeting for one reason or another and I just settled back into my life and routine without ever finding another outlet. Until recently when I signed up my boys for a TBI group for adolescents. The boys get to meet with other kids struggling with the same issues they are and I get to meet with the parents who are sharing the same struggles I have.
After that very first meeting I felt this sense of relief wash over me. I once again had people to talk to, people who understood. And with that realization came the understanding that I had allowed myself to fall into a funk. I was so busy just in the day to day minutia of my life that I didn’t realize what I had allowed to happen.
I wasn’t reading anymore, I wasn’t painting, I wasn’t doing things that brought me joy and happiness. I wasn’t talking to people about my stress and worry. I was just sitting back and letting life happen to me and beat me back down to a really bad place. I stopped fighting back. I had stopped taking care of myself.
As single mothers we often will take on the weight of the world. We take care of everything, do everything and worry about everything. It is so easy for us to become so busy caring for the kids and everything else that we forget to take care of ourselves. We don’t do the things that we need to do for ourselves.
Sometimes it’s because we feel like we can’t or shouldn’t. That it would be selfish of us to take time that could be spent doing other things. I know that too often I feel guilty if I do something for myself or take time for myself. If ever I get a day to just sit and do nothing I feel bad because I SHOULD be doing something.
But taking time for yourself and caring for yourself is so important!
Taking the time to really care for yourself the way that you care for your children is critical to your life. When you don’t take care of yourself then you are not as effective as a parent and it can creep up on you slowly while you aren’t paying attention. I didn’t really understand it or even identify it as a problem until I started up with this group because I felt that weight lift a little. That weight I hadn’t really known was there until it shifted a bit.
I wasn’t enjoying my life. I wasn’t enjoying my kids. I stopped doing things that were important to me. I was sitting by just letting everything sort of go to hell – because I had stopped caring. And I couldn’t understand why. Now many people would identify this as some level of depression I’m sure. And while I am not ruling that out at all I also realize that this was something that I could do something about.
Little things that I could do to start taking care of myself again. Things that don’t cost money or cost very little. Things that maybe don’t SEEM like they would make much of a difference, but trust me THEY DO.
Here is a list of things that you can do to take care of yourself so that you are the best possible version of yourself for your kids.
- Spend time outside – go for a walk or run (if you are one of those people who actually like to run).
- Meditate even if only for 10 minutes in the morning before you start your day
- Turn up the music and dance around
- Read your favorite book
- Cuddle with your kiddos
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep
- Un-clutter your life – get rid of things you no longer need, organize the things you do
- Get a massage – I now that this costs money BUT often if you look for a massage school in your area they have discounted rates so their students can practice
- Unplug – turn off your electronics and quiet the outside noise from the world
- Ask for help! – I know that this is often hard for many of us but we can’t always do everything all the time.
- Drink a nice cup of tea – Teavana™ is one of my favorite places to go for loose tea, sooo good! This is one of my few indulgences when I have a little extra money.
- Every morning take 10 minutes to stretch and take deep breaths. Calm your mind for the upcoming day
- Keep in touch with friends and family – quite often because we do it all alone we end up feeling secluded or shut off from the rest of the world. Don’t let that be the case – schedule time to meet with family and friends as often as possible.
- Dress up from time to time – look I’m as much a fan of yoga pants and comfy clothes as the next gal, in fact as I write this I am still in my ‘jamma pants’. But wearing these things all the time can become a bad habit. Take time on your personal appearance – you don’t have to be catwalk worthy, but running a comb through your hair and putting on a nice blouse and mascara can make all the difference in the world sometimes!
- Take a yoga class – now before you talk about cost and how you can’t afford it… there’s this thing called the internet and it’s kinda awesome. You can find yoga videos for free almost anywhere.
- Take a long hot bath – or if you are lucky enough to have a hot tub get in that bad boy for a while and soak (while I contain my jealousy because I don’t have a hot tub and want one desperately.)
- Do some silly things with your kids – BE A KID! We have them and often we spend so much energy trying to get them to grow up, maybe it’s time to spend a little time being childish again.
- Let it be – accept that you don’t ALWAYS have to have your shit together. The house doesn’t HAVE to look perfect, it’s ok for the laundry to pile up every once in a while. Understand that your sanity and well-being is more important than perfection.
- Eat better – Now I am a huge fan of chili cheese fries but I know that I should NOT be eating them every day. Having a better well rounded healthy diet can improve your health as well as your mental state.
- Remember to tell yourself that you are doing a good job! – Never forget that you are a rock star because you are. Good days or bad you are still amazing and you are doing just fine!