"Self-care?" I scoffed. "What's that?" My husband had been out of town for several weeks and I was doing all the jobs: mom, dad, chef, chauffeur, cleaner, bill-payer, etc. I wasn't getting enough sleep, enough vegetables, or enough alone time. (Not even at bedtime since my kids were camping out on the floor of my bedroom so we could make memories and all that good stuff.) Self-care was the very last thing on my mind.
"Yes, do you exercise? Meditate? Paint?"
The conversation was stressing me out. Who knew self-care was so stressful??
To me, the idea of working out didn't sound like self-care. I know I'm supposed to set a good example for my kids, though. They should see me with a running high and think, "I want that too!" Instead, they see me with a donut and they're like, "I want that too!" Hmm...I could get off the couch during commercials, though, and do some crunches or something. That would be beneficial.
That got me thinking: The kids are back in school this week. I now have hours that I spend flitting around on the internet with no one begging for attention or a ride to the mall. I could use some of that time for self-care. I could show my kids that it's just as important to take care of myself as it is to take care of them. Because if Mama isn't happy, nobody's happy. But did I really want to make yet another list I'd probably give up on? I could take baby steps and make a list of small, easy, manageable self-care steps.
But I had no idea where to begin. What is self-care? Besides yoga and running, what else counts as self-care? I wondered. I decided to do what I always do when I don't know the answer: I Googled that shit. I found tons of helpful lists out there and they inspired me to make my own.
Here's a list of some self-care things I'm committed to trying this year:
1. Read a book. Done and done. I decided to set the bar low at the beginning so I'd really feel like I was accomplishing something. It's like when you make a To-Do List and the first item is "Make a list" and you can cross that off right away.
2. Take a bubble bath. Ooh, I do that a lot too, I like to be clean and bubbly. Self-care is easy! I'm killing this list!
3. Take a walk. My first thought was, "To where?" Are we walking to the park? To the store? I'm a goal-oriented person and I need a goal and I need a reward. For instance, I would totally walk a mile to the ice cream shop. I decided to walk around the neighborhood and look at the clouds (another suggestion on many lists, so now it's like having two self-care items in one).
4. Edit your social media friends. Hmm, this could be a good one for me. I'm surrounded by a lot of online toxicity these days and it would be nice to purge a bit. I wield the ban stick pretty freely, but I still keep around a lot of people who bring me down. It wouldn't hurt to cull the list.
5. Cook a fancy meal. This is going to be really hard for me. I'm a terrible cook. I don't enjoy cooking. I wouldn't find it at all relaxing or entertaining, but maybe if I just let go of all my fears and expectations of burned food, I'll see that cooking can be fun??? I don't know. I'll keep you posted on that one.
6. Hug someone for at least 15 seconds to boost the immune system. I think I hug people a lot, but I probably don't hug for a full 15 seconds. I'm going to start paying more attention to the hugs I give. To be present and to really mean it when I hug someone.
7. Skip household chores guilt-free for an entire day. After walking, cooking, and hugging, I decided I needed another easy one and this one sounded doable.
8. Laugh. Okay, this is one I do daily. I didn't realize it counted as self-care, so I guess I do practice self-care! Yay, me! Seriously, though, there are so many benefits to laughing. We are living in an uptight, sandy, pissed-off world and we need a release. Laughter can do that for you. My goal every day is to make people laugh and to make sure that I laugh too. We have to laugh at ourselves and we have to laugh at our circumstances or we will probably explode. It's true, that's science, folks.
9. Do a mini-declutter. The key word here is "mini." You don't have to KonMari the shit out of your closet, but you know you've got some jeans in there from 1997 that are never going to work for you again. Get rid of 10 items and call it a day.
10. Light some candles and enjoy a glass of wine. This one came up a lot on various lists I found. Wine and alcohol always seem to be a go-to for people when they're thinking about self-care. I don't disagree that a glass of wine at the end of a long day can be deeply rewarding, but I think we have to be careful of the quantity we're consuming. And for me, it wouldn't even be every day. I don't plan to do anything else on this list daily--except read--so I can't plan to unwind with wine and alcohol every day either.
I think this list is a good start. I found a lot of other simple changes I can make, too. Like just sitting for five minutes or turn off all distractions and watch nature or driving aimlessly with the radio blasting. All of these are easy re-charges for busy, over-worked, stressed out women and I encourage you to make a list that works for you. Like, if running a marathon and knitting scarves are your thing, then you do you. Just make sure that you're mindful of what you're choosing to do to care for yourself, because our kids are watching and they're learning from us.
What do you do for self-care? Leave me a comment.