Friday, November 1, 2013

Self Care

How was trick or treating? Ours was fun! I was surprised at how on board our little one was with the process. She just followed the two older kids without a second thought.

Google searches!

"best online shopping sites" (to refer to our exchange students)
"synonyms for shield" (in order to name my son's fish - he settled on "Escutcheon")
"symptoms of depression" (you would think I know all of them since I have dealt with depression for years, but I wanted to site a reliable source - the internet)

What did you research today?

^I know I ask this each time. I really want to know. Please leave a comment and let me know what you have been googling!

Let's talk about self-care. Who cares for you? I know you care for a lot of other people; your husband, your kids, your boss, your parents, your friends, your pets. But who takes care of you? Do you take care of you? Does your husband take care of you? Do your friends?

Who do you EXPECT to take care of you? I think a lot of us think that other people should take care of us. After all, we spend so much time caring for others, can't someone stop for just ONE second and pay attention to US?!? Can't anybody look right at you and see the disheveled hair, the legs that haven't been shaved in weeks (okay, months), the paint on your nails that isn't from a manicure, it's from craft time, the bags under your eyes from not sleeping through the night since 1996, the piles of clothes strewn around the house in their various laundered stages, the toddler snot on your yoga pants (which have a hole in them), the half empty cup of cold coffee abandoned on the counter, the empty bottle of Xanax you have been too busy to refill...CAN'T. YOU. SEE. Someone should be able to take one glance, realize how desperate the situation is, stop everything, and say, "HAY! ALY NEEDS A BREAK OVER HERE!" They should sit you down, rub your feet, bring you chocolate and wine, tell you how wonderful you are, how beautiful you are, how much you are appreciated, then take the kids away for a couple of hours, and let you curl up in front of the fireplace with your favorite magazine, pee alone, and eat a hot meal that doesn't involve chicken nuggets.

How often does that happen? For me? Never. Do you know why? Because the only person's job it is to make sure I am cared for, is me. I am the only one who truly knows how stressed out I am. I am the one who needs to learn when to say "WHEN!" And ask for a break. This is not to say that a husband or friend can't assist with that break. But it is not up to them to recognize the need and push me to take that break.

At times, I feel resentment that I spend all this time caring for others, and nobody cares for me. Do you want to hear a hard truth? THAT is a selfish thing to do. I am an adult. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Taking care of others until you are run ragged and then complaining or resenting people for not taking care of you is being a martyr. Take the break you deserve and stop complaining. It's not attractive. And we need all the help we can get with being attractive - anti-wrinkle cream can only do so much.

What is NOT selfish - and this is something I have struggled to accept for years - is taking care of yourself. Sounds contradicting, right? Taking care of myself isn't selfish. Why is that? Because when we take care of ourselves, we are better equipped to care for others. Then we aren't so busy looking inside and grumbling about how I don't get the help I deserve. We are looking outside of ourselves because our inner self is well nourished. When you do things to take care of yourself, you feel better about yourself. You are relaxed, and you have more energy to give to put into others.

It doesn't have to be extravagant. It doesn't have to put your family into debt. Maybe it's a hot cup of coffee with a friend. Maybe it's going grocery shopping without the kids. Maybe it's as simple as going to the bathroom alone!

So where do we start? With a free printable, OF COURSE! We need to make a list of self-care activities to choose from. I only put space in here for three activities. I know that for some of us, coming up with just three items will be a challenge. When we lose ourselves in our families, we forget what we enjoyed doing before we had our families. If you can come up with more than three activities, that is great! Print this out as many times as you need.

What did you like to do before you had kids? Did you read? Doodle? Journal? Shop with friends? Shop alone? Draw? Paint? Scrapbook? Photography? Pottery? Do you want to develop a new hobby? Knitting? Sewing? Exercise? Manicure/pedicure? Massage? Think of some things that you want to try that only involve you. And perhaps one friend. But not children. If you try something and you don't like it, this list can easily change. So don't be afraid to try something new. Write down three ideas.

How often are you currently including these activities into your regular monthly schedule? Zero, zero, and...ZERO?!? That's what I thought.

How often would you LIKE to include these activities into your regular monthly schedule? Let's start with once a month at a minimum. Don't feel badly if you want to do your self care items more often than that! Be bold! Go for once a day! I like it!

Now look at your schedule. Where can you put this activity in your schedule? Don't say you don't have time. You might not want to make it a priority. But trust me, you have time somewhere. You might have to sacrifice time doing something else. Like watching TV, surfing the internet, even sleep if you must. Does your daughter go to dance class three times a week? Do you watch her during each practice? Make a compromise - watch her during two sessions next week, then take a book and read in your car during the third session. As an adult, she will need therapy for much more than you skipping one of her dance sessions. Trust me.

If you need help finding room in your schedule, then use the 30 minute time block printable. For at least one week, be dedicated to honestly write down everything you do each 30 minutes. I think you will be surprised how much time is devoted to Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/texting/reading this blog (that's allowed). This should show you where you have time to spare. And if not, if you are truly busy and working efficiently from the time you wake until the time you hit the pillow, then you REALLY need a break. So find a time and write it down. These cards will fit into your planner, so write down your activity and then physically stick this card in your schedule.

You have your activity, you have time in your schedule. It's time to alert your family of your intent. "I am going to do ABC activity on XYZ day. I will be out of the house (or still in the house but am not to be disturbed under any circumstances, maybe even arrange to be alone in the home) for this much time, and I am going to take care of myself. Thank you." Block off this time in your calendar, post it on the fridge, tattoo it to your husband's arm, etc. Then DO IT. Don't put it off. Don't change it unless it is a dire emergency. Which does not involve whiny children.

Enjoy your self care time! Pat yourself on the back for NOT being selfish! Tell me what you end up doing. I would love to hear your successes.

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