Monday, 25 July 2016

Self Care Solutions

saphatthachat @ freedigitalphotos.net
The first week of July I fell into a slump. I didn't sleep well. My body ached and my mood was grumpy and irritable. My heart was sore and my mind was cloudy and sluggish. It was hard to concentrate on anything, let alone my business. 

So what does a busy mom do when she just wants to hide?! 

I was a bit fortunate that it was a weekend where my kids were gone to their dad's. I could hibernate a bit. But even with that, there were chores and work staring me in the face, and before the weekend hit, I still had 5 small children needing my attention. 

Self care when you're a work at home mom, single or not, sometimes feels impossible to fit in our busy lives. We often devote ourselves to our kids (and partners), and when our attention isn't on them, it's on the business, and in between work and family, we try to fit in the myriad tasks related to keeping our family fed, clothed and clean. We all acknowledge the truth that you can't give away what you don't have, but how to fit in those recharge moments is difficult at best. 

For me, it's always been a struggle. It feels selfish and uncaring to take any time for myself. I've gone without meals just to make sure my children were fed, so to actually do something for me when I'll give up even basic necessities seemed the ultimate sign of greediness.  But gradually I realized that if I want to be the best mother I can be, I must be able to fill up before I can pour out. 

I desperately want to be the best mother in the world to my children. 

Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net
The truth is, I can't do it all, without taking some time for myself. No parent can, and still stay sane. The myth of super-parents is a pervasive, dangerous one, and it's time we realized that it really is just a fairy tale. Where did we get this idea that self care is wrong? Because it isn't wrong at all!!

Self care is more than just the basic necessities. Making sure one gets enough rest, eats proper meals and drinks enough fluid isn't self-care, it's just common sense. So if you aren't doing that, start there. The fastest way to landing yourself in serious health trouble, mentally and physically, is to neglect common sense basics of life. 

Self care means doing those things that give you joy, relaxation and refills your soul. It could be hobbies, or having a social life, or even just moments of inspiration. Making yourself happy, even just for 5 minutes, will do wonders for your productivity, mood and health. 

It's those 5 minutes of peace that are the foundation of self-care for the busy work-at-home parent. Self care can be as simple as remembering to put on face cream in the morning, or buying that latte on the way to the next play date or networking event -- even though all the financial experts say it's a waste! Ignore them. Mental health is worth way more than the cost of those lattes added up. It can be taking your phone into the bathroom, locking the door and scrolling on Facebook for a few extra minutes, even if the kids are screaming just outside a few seconds longer. It may be ignoring the umpteen emails one evening in favor of reading a book -- that is not related to your business!! It's picking up the phone to call mom or your bff while you're making dinner. Self-care is carving out those minutes here and there to do those things that recharge you and make you smile. 

So how did I change my outlook earlier in July?  

  • First, I recognized the symptoms of my hormonal changes. It really was that time of the month! So I definitely needed to take care of the basics first: I went to bed a little earlier to get some extra rest, I drank extra water and I made sure to take my vitamins. 
  • Second, even though I had planned to work on some projects over the weekend that my children were gone, I changed my plans. I rearranged my schedule and I took the weekend off. I turned off the email notifications, and I pulled up an old movie favorite instead. I played a video game. I took a nap. I made my favorite chocolate treat, and I curled up on the couch to enjoy my evening. 
  • Third, I made plans with a friend. I took advantage of a free church program for a week, and spent the mornings with friends, venting, chatting, and just enjoying that time. We did a spontaneous beach trip and the fun with friends and my kids really helped lift my mood! 
  • Fourth, I took some time out to re-evaluate my work plans and projects. Was my encroaching burnout simply due to hormones and fatigue or were some of my plans not in line with my core values? Was I straying from my purpose and passion, and stressing myself out? I made the adjustments in my strategies and projects. 

Self care is a priority for me. Being a single parent makes it both extra important and slightly easier to accomplish than parenting with a partner. For anyone though, it should be treated as just as important as making sure your kids (and partner) are cared for. Find the things that make you happy. Talk to your partner and/or supports about what you need and ask for the help. The people that really care for you will probably surprise you by how encouraging and eager to help you out they are. Above all, don't feel guilty for spending the little bit of money, taking the extra moments, and putting yourself first once in a while. 

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