Or so the cliche goes. Does anyone else wonder if they were in an emergency situation on an airplane with their kids if they would actually put their own oxygen masks on first?
So, what is self-care, and why is it necessary?
Self-care means that we take care of ourselves. That we fill our own cups so we are better able to fill the cups of others. Self-care is necessary because we are not an infinite source of energy. We need to take time to renew ourselves and be ourselves to be our best selves. While there is this feeling that we have to "do it all" (whatever that means) and put everyone else first in order to be a good parent, the only thing we will succeed in with that mentality is burning out. Not to mention having a crisis when being a parent is no longer our primary responsibility.
Often we feel like we don't have time to take care of ourselves. It's important to remember that while there will always be another load of laundry or another plate to wash, your energy will not always be there. You will never find time to take care of yourself; it's something you have to make time for.
Self-care can mean different things to different people. It isn't something that has to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. While self-care can mean an afternoon at the spa, it also means all the little day-to-day things we do for ourselves. At a play date, one mother expressed that she always made sure to put lotion on her daughter, but never put it on herself. So self-care can mean something as simple as putting lotion on every day.
Our children are our best teachers. If you're not sure what nice things you can do for yourself, just think of all the things you do for them. How we care for them also shows us how to find the balance between self-care and self-indulgence.
- We feed ourselves nourishing foods, but occasionally we indulge in treats.
- We dress ourselves comfortably, but occasionally dress up
- We take care of our hygiene needs, like bathing, brushing our teeth and putting on lotion, but recognize the need for a pajama day now and then (a really nice thing you can do for yourself is close the bathroom door when you go!)
- We go out and do activities that we enjoy, and sometimes just hang out at home
- We tidy up our space, but sometimes forgo doing the dishes for a nap
- We make time for our own creative pursuits like writing, music or art
- We make time to see our friends, but respect our need for solitude
- We make time to move our bodies in ways that feel good, but sometimes we become one with the couch
If you can't manage to take care of yourself for your own sake, think of your children. Your goal is for them to eventually be able to do all the things you do for them for themselves. If they aren't able to see you do these things for yourself, how will they know it's OK for them to take care of themselves?
"When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness."- Thich Nhat Hanh
For Further Thought:
1) What are things you make sure to do for your children that you don't do for yourself?
2) What are some small things you can do for yourself that you can incorporate into your daily routine? For example, taking deep breaths, stretching, putting on lotion.
3) What beliefs are getting in the way of you taking care of you? ("I don't have time" doesn't count. Nobody *has* time. We make time for the things we think are important.)
For Further Reading:
HuffPo: The Quickest Way to Tear Down an Entire Family
Regarding Baby: Take Care of Yourself
Aha Parenting: The Secret of a Full Cup
Abundant Mama: Two Self-Care Myths Sabotaging Your Me Time
(I highly recommend the Abundant Mama E-Course!)
Barefoot Barn: Drop the Mama Guilt and Get Resourced
Abundant Life Children: Caring for My Children, Caring for Myself
Core Parenting Pdx: Learning to Care for Ourselves
Christie Inge: Podcast: Honoring Your Needs in a Busy World
Presence Parenting: It's OK to Need Time Alone