What’s bothering you?
You’re back to work after the New Year holiday, and you might be burnt out.
The post-holiday checkbook blues might be coming to bite you in the backside.
Maybe you’ve forgotten to uphold a few of those resolutions you made.
I feel you, fellow parents and caregivers. I feel you.
If you’re like millions of other parents (and even those who aren’t raising kids from scratch) there’s a good possibility that every now and then you feel a little, well, down. You’re not alone. And while usually my weekly posts range from the hottest toys to how to entertain your kids, I wanted to take a minute to remind you about something that’s perhaps even more important: self-care.
What is Self-Care?
Putting on lotion after your shower, right? Having the time to shower in the first place? Those are examples of self-care, aren’t they?
Yes and no. While those are very simple routines you could choose to implement into your daily schedule, they only touch a part of the practice that’s called “self-care.”
You’ve heard the analogy a thousand times. You’re on an airplane, and the masks drop down. The attendant has already informed you that you’re to secure your own mask before you help the child beside you. After all, if you’re not receiving the essentials you need, you’re absolutely of no help to anyone else.
You can extend that analogy to cover a broader spectrum of everyday life. As one example, if you’re not eating well, you’re not likely to be healthy. If you’re not healthy, you can’t be expected to manage your family’s health.
Self-care covers every aspect of your being, from your home to your body and your mind to your soul. And, more importantly, it’s much more than just a trip to the stylist. Self-care is a conscious decision to remember that your needs matter, too.
Your kids come first – I get it. Mine do, too. Then your spouse, then your job. Then, if there’s any time, money or energy remaining, you might buy yourself a book. You might even find time to read it.
Instead of considering your needs last, why not incorporate a few guilt-free tricks for self-care into your schedule? Here are my XX favorite self-care practices.
1. Go to a movie.
No one is telling you to go alone. The whole family can love a movie together, and it’ll prevent you from feeling the need to entertain kids, do housework or stress over financials. Buckle everyone up into the car and head to the local matinee for an afternoon out.
2. Turn up the music!
I have certain songs which make me feel very, very happy. I can be in the sourest of moods, but the instant I turn up the volume on Len’s Steal My Sunshine, I’m singing aloud and embarrassing the cats. Find your jam, then play it loud and proud. It’s been proven that music affects mood. Go on, give it a shot!
3. Declutter a room.
Those who work from home can tell you – the mess of a cluttered room can completely wreck your day. Set aside ten minutes, maybe in the morning while your coffee brews. Then straighten up a room. Heck, you don’t have to go that far. Just clearing the dishes from the sink can work wonders for your mood, and doing it regularly is one of the easiest ways to manage self-care.
4. Create something.
Again, who has time for that, right? Okay, try this.
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1 cup sugar
Mix those three ingredients together (with the kids, if you like). Roll the batter into one inch balls, then press on to cookie sheets. Bake those puppies at 350 for about 8 minutes, and Voila! You’ve created something in less than 20 minutes! Plus, they’re delicious.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Or, if you like, you can attempt to become the next Picasso. Even just cooking supper from scratch can be enough of a creative outlet to qualify as self-care.
5. Light a candle.
No, I don’t necessarily mean light a candle and meditate on it. Though that’s certainly an option if you’re interested. I simply mean that lighting a scented candle is a very simple way to practice self-care.
Studies have shown that certain aromas elicit certain emotions. As you may know, this is called aromatherapy. A lavender candle is relaxing, while a citrus candle is energizing. Find the scent which fits your mood can be a very simple, yet effective form of self-care.
6. Just say “no.”
This is my favorite. Not in that I love telling people “no, I won’t do that.” But in that it was, by far, the hardest thing for me to master. And, in all honesty, I’m still just a “journeyman.”
Age. Gender. Family dynamic. Marital status. Employment status. Ethnicity. Economic situation. None of that matters. Everyone feels an obligation at one point or another to tell someone “yes” when they truly just don’t want to.
Your boss asks you to stay an extra hour, but you had promised your wife you’d cook supper. Tell your boss no.
Your sister has, yet again, lost her debit card and needs to borrow twenty bucks. “No, I’m sorry, you’ll have to drive to the bank branch.”
And what about your kids? You’d do anything for those kids, and you had no idea the bake sale was tomorrow. This time, tell your kids that no, you can’t be a last-minute chef. Of course, if your kids are old enough you could also share that peanut butter cookie recipe.
What’s important is that you learn that you can’t always be all things to all people. Sometimes it’s imperative that you practice a little self-care. Tell someone else no, and finally say “yes” to yourself.