I was sitting in my psychiatrist’s office. My family doctor had referred me to her when I was pregnant with my daughter as I was at-risk for postpartum depression, but that’s an aside. “How is your self-care?” she asked, as I attempted to keep my daughter from grabbing the keyboard from the computer desk while, at the same time, nursing my son. “How is my self-care?” I mentally asked myself, fairly taken aback by the question.
Now I need to tell you, my psychiatrist is the medical health care professional in my life that I am especially fond of. She is incredibly shrewd, insightful, and scientific in her reasoning. She is able to site studies like no other I know. So as far as goodness-of-fit between my needs and her prowess, we couldn’t be better paired. But as she asked me this question, “How is your self-care?” I couldn’t help, but wonder if she really meant what she was saying. This appointment felt like the closest thing to self-care I’d done in a while, and I was currently bouncing my son while waving Noah’s Arc toys at my daughter in an attempt to distract her from pulling items off of my doctor’s selves. I think she sensed my perplexity, as she elaborated on her initial question: “What are you currently doing for yourself, independent of the family to keep yourself mentally healthy… to recharge?” I reflected a bit, “Well… I like to do yoga. Yoga certainly helps me.” “Okay,” she pressed on, “so how often are you doing yoga?” It was clear she was on to me.
When raising a young family, it is especially hard to make time for one’s self. But, without taking time to recharge, or put oneself first, the feeling of “running on empty” becomes prevalent, feelings become clouded, efficacy is lower, and the family suffers as a whole. The problem is self-care feels counter-initiative. There is so much to do; there are little hands constantly undoing what has just been done; and there is so much that gets out to the back burner and doesn’t. ever. seem. to. get. done. My children need me, almost constantly; my husband and I barely have enough time to ourselves, as is, without me scheduling in time for myself, solo. So a self-reinforcing cycle ensues: I am wiped, feel like I can’t get enough done, need time to myself, feel I shouldn’t take time, get more burnt out, am less efficient, feel more wiped, feel like I’m getting less done…
Blogging has been great. But if it doesn’t require me to leave the house without the kids, it doesn’t really count. Fortunately, my cycle of not decompressing has finally been broken. Due to my admittance into Yoga Teachers’ College and the goal for me to become a yoga teacher, I now have to do what I love to prepare. So recently, I attended my first class in almost a year. Even though I was weaker in my practice, I felt especially grateful. As I moved through each posture, I reflected on the word Sanskrit word, Drishti. The word, used frequently in yoga classes to appeal to students to find a focal point to balance better and quiet the mind, literally means “focusing outward to look in.” As I moved into a subsequent asana, adjusted my gaze, and felt so much more peaceful than I had in months, I thought it could not be more fitting that the meaning of this word was resonating through my practice. Self-care is focusing inward to be better suited to take on what it outside of us. I just need to maintain said focus.
What are ways you find time for yourself? Please share!
This is such an important post! Too many of us are out there using up our whole selves for our family and not taking time of our own. We need to be able to recharge. It makes us sane and better for our family. Thank you for sharing-and congratulations on going back to classes! That is so exciting!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful commentary. I really felt it was worthwhile to write because it seems all moms inherently put themselves on the backburner. We need to be smarter about taking care of ourselves!
Rebekah @Surviving Toddlerhood says
Yes! It is so important for mommas to make time for themselves! You can’t take good care of people on 30%, and it is much easier to make time for self care eevery week than it is to recover after you have hit bottom.
I like to run. So I try to get in a couple of runs every week. I have also found that getting up earlier, giving me time with Jesus and a hot cup of coffee all my own, has made my days much more steady and keeps me together.
Rebekah, I too find running is such amazing therapy. It is a wonderful time to introspect, and even work through things that are burdening you. You are really selling me on this waking up early, time to pray, reflect, AND have hot coffee? It sounds almost too good to be true!
Thanks for reminding us to take care of ourselves. We teach our children by showing them what is important.
I agree, Shelah. My mom worked herself to the bone, but always made time to go for a run or two each week. I need to make sure I follow her lead!
So true. And when you take care of yourself, your children will do the same as they get older. It might even keep them away from some un-safe habits.
Terri, I couldn’t agree with you more. My mom is someone who never stops working. But, she’s always found time to go for a run a couple of times a week. I need to make sure I set a similar example to my own children.
Way to go getting your teaching license!! This is definitely something you will not regret, and what a great “mom job” when your little ones are in school too! Along the lines of fitness, I have a gym membership with an excellent childcare center at it. You can leave your kids there for two hours each day and I usually use the entire two hours. I work out, shower, do my hair, make-up. I have “me time,” keep myself in shape, and my kids love it–win/win! 🙂 I often say to my husband, I do not know how I would make it without my gym. 🙂
Thank you so much, Sasha! That’s exactly what my husband and I thought; it’s a great job to do while still being at home with the kids the majority of the time. I LOVE the sounds of your gym set-up!!
This made me think of the speech on a plane… you have to put your own oxygen on before putting on another passenger. If we moms get burnt out we’re not helpful to anyone else.
What an astute perception, Barbara. So, so true! Thank you for your comment!
I try to go on a run a few times a week. I’m in desperate need of a pedicure, though. My feet look disgusting.
I will take a pedicure too! And, Melissa running is such a fabulous outlet. I get so much perspective when I run.
[email protected] says
I’m with you. It has to be out of the house, or in the house ALONE, doing something I love for it to count. I read a ton. About twice a year, I get the luxury of watching a chick flick alone. You’re on the right track. A well written piece, Thanks!
Thank you so much, Traci! And, I’m glad you agree. If you’re not out of the house kid free, it shouldn’t count!
Good for you for taking action! Yoga is the perfect self-care outlet! I do marathon sessions of CSI. Does that count? ha ha
Thanks 🙂 I love having CSI marathons!!!! Not as much as yoga, but very close.
ha ha and there’s so many episodes, the marathons are never ending!!
And a new series starting this fall 🙂
which one? I just caught up on CSI vegas season 13. vegas and miami are my favorites 🙂
It’s called Cyber CSI, I think. It’s staring Patricia Arquette. They tied it into Las Vegas either in the finally or just before.
oooo interesting. I’ll have to check it out! thanks! 🙂
You are an inspiration! Very peaceful. I need to find some time for some Yoga time 😉
That is so very kind of you!
Becki Anderson says
I loved this post. So hard to find balance as a mother…this is a great post! Well done 😉
Thank you so much, Becki! I really appreciate your kind words!!! <3
So important that us mamas care for ourselves. It’s a conversation I have often with patients!
So cool you have such valuable, preventative conversations with your patients!
I loved this.,It is sooo hard to find me time as a Mom of young kids…maybe as a mom period. I so relate to that cycle of no self care, feeling overwhelmed, feeling guilty, etc. Its tough. I bring my youngest with me to counseling each week and leave my twins asleep at home with my mom…or I don’t go if she can’t be around for them while they’re asleep. When I work out I have all 3 with me and someone usually climbing on me as an extra weight haha. Its hard, but so important to make time for ourselves because as you said, if we’re not healthy and taking care of ourselves, we can’t be as good as we need to be for our kids and families. This was a great post and reminder to find the time.
Thank you for your thoughtful commentary Rachael! I can only imagine what it’s like with three, but it is funny how just taking the youngest to counselling feels like a treat. At least it has for me… And I’ve done the at-home works-outs with human beings on top of me. I only last a max15 mins, before giving up. So good on you for doing it with any sort of regularity!!
Haha, thank you! The longest work out I can manage is about 40 mins. After that it starts getting dangerous for everyone haha, so hopefully there’s benefit to be had in 25-40 min workouts ? and you’re right, amazing how only have 1 versus 3 feels like a breeze…although I will say my, youngest is kinda more work than my twins, so…. but ill take what I can get lol
Oh I sooooo get this! And needed to be reminded of this right now on this very day 😉 I have been struggling to start back to exercising but it needs to be a priority. I know it in my head, but it is hard to put into practice. I am so much happier when I am working out regularly though!! Thanks for the inspiration!
Branson, I can totally relate. I started off well after having my second. Life got busy, and I almost totally stopped. I’m so grateful to be two weeks back into it. Even though I’m working harder in my day to get to yoga, and then hard at yoga, I feel more energized. Good luck getting back at it <3
I am so happy for you that you get time to yourself doing something you love, and potentially making money at it when you are a yoga teacher!? We, as mamas, get sucked into the everyday life so quickly. Making time for ourselves definitely has to be intentional, but man it is so worth it when we reboot! Happy wife/mama happy life right! I have started coaching volleyball and that has been a great outlet for me!
Adele, truer words were never spoken!! Haha. So cool about you coaching volleyball!