Making Time for Self Care
Self-care seems to be such a buzz word these days. I mean pre kids…no problem. I used to go to the gym regularly, get facials every 6 weeks, read book after book in the sun, have tons of time to read my Bible. Go to the beach and snooze, get mani and pedis all the time, girls nights, dinners with friends. Shopping for me and only me. Conferences, books clubs, spiritual retreats.
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Then I had kids.
First baby and Self Care
When one becomes a mother, things are never quite the same again. What you thought motherhood would be is really not. You have never had to deal with that kind of sleep deprivation, sore boobs, leaking from too many places on your body.
However after a while you get into a groove, baby gets on a nap schedule, and you have time to go for a manicure and a coffee date with a friend.
Grandma loves to babysit and snuggle the little baby so you and hubby go out for date nights, or you can go to the gym for an hour. Heck you even bring baby into the movies with you. Everyone ooh’s and aww’s when you bring cute sleeping baby to the spa for a pedicure and a bikini wax.
Second Baby and Self Care
You have got this parenting of a baby thing pretty much down pat. You know what cries mean hungry, and what cries mean tired. You are used to the never-ending laundry pile so it doesn’t bother you anymore. Grandma is still willing to babysit, but not as often. Who has time for the gym? That’s ok you don’t need it, you get a jogging stroller and run to the park that your toddler wants to hit up 3 times a day. Date nights are now done at home after the kids go to bed. Grill up some steaks, light a candle, and fall asleep 20 minutes into the movie. You are really struggling with that baby weight…or is it just I eat junk food in the evening so the toddler won’t steal it weight?
Third Baby and Self Care
Gym? Ha… 3 don’t fit into the stroller and you have to push the oldest on the bike so there is no more jogging to the park. Grandma, aunts, uncles, friends and sisters are always busy when you ask them to babysit. 2 of those 3 kids talk now. They demand goldfish, and bananas, more water, and candy for breakfast. They also fight, so now your job includes refereeing. You also have to teach them how to write their name, how to count, and the whole alphabet and of course make sure you include time for each kid to have individual snuggles.
Date night? Ha. Ha. Ha.
Manicure? Is poop stained brown the new trendy shade?
Plus you haven’t showered in several days so it’s easier to just hide at home.
4th Baby and Self Care
Well depending on you spaced this out maybe one or 2 or at school so things start to get easier except you have lunches to pack, pickups and drop offs you can’t be late for (wake the sleeping baby from her peaceful nap) homework to help with, and all those dang school forms.
You also have gymnastics, and swimming lessons and soccer practice to take them to.
They want to have friends over (ugh more kids in my house..no thanks) Meal times begin to take forever, bath times and brushing hair even longer. You decide you have to get the hairdresser or spa at least every few months. You sign up for a zumba class but hubby is always working late, going to baseball, or having a “quick beer” with a buddy after work, so you never quite seem to get there.
However, something about that 4th baby, or those kids starting to go to school, or the fact that your pants don’t fit anymore gives you the determination to take back some time for yourself, or the fog in your head or the overwhelm you feel.
You start to go for regular manicures because that half hour away from home and a pretty shellac has you feeling like superwoman for 2 weeks. You get to drink that coffee hot, and you start to make time for a workout.
Even if you have to get up at 5am to have this “me time” before the kids wake up with their demands. You start feeling better about yourself again and begin to find you, not just you as “mommy”. You rediscover old hobbies, and pick up an adult book for the first time in 6 years. You are beginning to feel better about yourself, and those pants aren’t so tight, so you actually pull out that lingerie from your bridal shower and start wearing it again.
Not as often as the old days but hey it’s better than nothing right hubs?
You carve out that self-care time because if you don’t, you are probably going to end up in the mental institution.
Also since you are never alone, and you very experienced at surviving on little sleep, you now realize sleep just isn’t as important as it once was so you get up early or go to bed super late. Just to be alone. To get a work out in. To read a book. To style your hair, and do your make up and just get rid of that top knot already.
Self Care will Come
If you aren’t there yet mamas, it comes. You will find you again. I’m working on it. It’s not something that flips on like a light switch, but a journey.
A journey that reminds you if you do not take care of yourself first it becomes hard to take care of others.
If you don’t practice self-care you might become “frumpy”, or depressed, or angry, or just dang miserable to be around.
You will ask yourself “what happened?” and “who are you?” Trust me I’ve been there and I am on the journey upward again. You deserve it, mama. You are special too.
I have struggled for a long time with the balance of dying to self like it says in the Bible and taking care of myself because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What I have learned is it really is an area of balance. Too much of dying to self can render you useless to serve. Too much self care completely takes your focus off what is truly important which is loving God and loving others first.
I also want to encourage you with what your self care should be. It is perfectly ok to do things like a manicure or a massage but no amount of that kind of self care is going to help you if you are not using some of your self care time for soul care. Read your Bible, meditate, pray.
Make Time for Self Care
Make sure you take that time. If you don’t know where to start, think of what you loved to do pre-kids, that you now do not have time for anymore.
Write it down in your calendar. Schedule it, or you will always find something else to do in replace of self-care.
“I will wake up early to read my Bible” “I will take half an hour at 8:30pm to take a bath 4 times a week”. “Every other Tuesday I will go for a manicure”. “I will exercise every morning at 6am”.
Whatever it is that recharges and refuels you…DO THAT! Your mental, emotional and physical health will be better off, by making sure you make yourself a priority. You give, give give all day long.
I am going to repeat this page incase you missed it…I have struggled for a long time with the balance of dying to self like it says in the Bible and taking care of myself because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What I have learned is it really is an area of balance. Too much of dying to self can render you useless to serve. Too much self care completely takes your focus off what is truly important which is loving God and loving others first.
Do not feel guilty about taking a few moments for yourself.