“Pretend you are your own baby. Sometimes we have to be mother’s to ourselves.”
More and more, we are hearing the message that care-givers need to slow down. We need to nurture and nourish ourselves in addition to our children. Our own wells must be so full that when we give, it is only from the over-flow.
We must stop this nonsense of giving to the point of depletion. Of giving to the point of total burn-out and exhaustion and anger. Being perpetually busy is not a badge we should wear proudly.
When I use to think of self-care it kind of annoyed me. How am I supposed to manufacture time (or money) for myself to achieve this self-care? Where do spa days, weekend getaways, and weekly massages fit in to my life? Well, they don’t. But that’s not actually what self-care is.
Self-care is a series of small rituals that you integrate into every single day of your life. It is a statement you make to yourself and your family that you matter. That you will care, quite literally, for yourself. That your needs cannot be postponed until things have calmed down (because spoiler alert, things will never calm down).
Self-care is not something that someone else can do FOR you. If you don’t take care of your needs, then you will go on indefinitely IN need. And that is an awful place to parent from.
Anything done without rushing and with intention is an act of kindness to yourself. Making a cup of tea can be self-care when you do it right. If you can take a few minutes to sip that tea slowly, while sitting down (maybe even reading a book you love) you have achieved self-care. When you take the extra time to feed your body something nourishing or head off to bed when you actually feel tired, that is radical self-care.
Every morning, when I put on my 1000 roses day cream, I take 3 minutes to massage my face and just see myself in the mirror (sans judgement). I don’t rush through the process. I take the time to actually inhale that delicious floral scent. That simple daily task is like this little calming beacon for me. I don’t always want to do it though. Some mornings I have to force myself, and on those mornings, I am always so glad that I did force myself. Because the payoff of that little ritual is huge. It starts this tiny ripple of goodness in my day.
Maybe you can find 10 minutes to meditate, have a bath, or go for a quiet walk. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you feel invigorated by it. And it can’t be overly complicated or you won’t do it. It may only take a slight shift in your perspective, to take something that you consider a chore (like putting on moisturizer), and turn it into a ritual, just for you.
We lavish such care on our children and rightly so. But those children will grow up one day and repeat the martyrdom that we have modeled for them. Let’s show them, and ourselves, a sustainable place to parent from instead.
When there is a choice between doing another load of laundry or sauntering outside to enjoy an unseasonably warm October day, ask yourself which of those two options will lift you up and feed your spirit. The choice is yours.