Self-care is all the rage these days. While this is a great thing, sometimes I just want to yell, “Shut up about self-care!” I get it, I’m supposed to make time for myself, but I’m too stressed out trying to fit in “me” time. “Self-care” can often feel like more work to do. I feel guilty when I do take care of myself and guilty when I don’t.
Maybe it’s just me, but finding time for yourself on a consistent basis as a working mom is anything but simple. Add in grief, and it’s a double whammy because self care is so important to grieving mothers, but finding the time and energy for it is near impossible.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care isn’t just bubble baths and massages (I mean it can be), but it can be something as simple as ten minutes of quiet each day. What makes you feel relaxed, or refreshed or gives you that mental/emotional/physical boost that you need? It literally might be an extra 5-10 minutes in the bathroom without kids peeking their heads in. It might cost money, or be free. Self-care can mean so many different things to different people.
Prayer or meditation, pampering, exercise, entertainment, time with friends, or all of the above. Whatever it is, make it a priority.
Our lives are crazy busy. Inevitably, we have to actually schedule in time for ourselves. Don’t wait until you “need’ it, or are near your breaking point. Build time into your routine (daily, weekly, and monthly) that promotes self-care and that works for you and your family. Be proactive. Simplify routines and chores whenever you can. Share or rotate responsibilities when possible.
I try to be mindful of my needs and communicate them to my husband. “It is important for me to have this time for myself because…” or, “Attending this class or meeting up with these people help me feel…” Then in return, asking him what he needs to not feel overwhelmed and burnt out. We have a calendar that hangs on the wall; it’s simple and effective.
Don’t know where to start or what to do? Think of what makes YOU feel good!
Enroll in a yoga or other exercise class: I attend a yoga class through the Hopeful Heart Project which focuses on relaxation and meditation and is for families who have endured the death of a child. For other yoga and fitness classes, you can check out places like Ecce yoga, Fit Elements, Family Wellness, or the YMCA.
Do something good for your body: This could be a massage, acupuncture, manicure or pedicure, or any other physical treatment you enjoy. I receive Arvigo Abdominal Therapy by Naturally Randi Kay (she is an amazing teacher and advocate for self-care).
Do something quiet at home on your own: Take a bath, read a book, journal, watch your favorite Netflix show or have your spouse/partner be on bedtime duty so you can crawl into bed early and enjoy some extra sleep. I love using the Art of Daily Practice by local Artist Nicole Rae. The guided journaling is extremely helpful and powerful and simple enough to incorporate daily.
Do something to connect with others: Grab a beer or coffee with some friends (so many great places in Fargo to try!), partake in a trivia night or adult athletic league, find a regular volunteer activity to do, or find a social group to join. If you’re an extrovert, sometimes just getting around other people can be therapeutic enough to recharge you.
The two things I schedule in each month for self-care are totally worth the time, money and schedule rearrangement. They are a combination of physical, emotional and mental therapies for me, and they allow uninterrupted time for myself. I connect with others who are supportive of my overall health and are sensitive to both my grief and infertility journey. What you choose to schedule in will look different, but will help you recharge your body and mind to be the mom you want to be.
Whatever it is that you need to feel recharged or gives you a break, do it. As often as you can or need. All that matters is that it works for you and your family.
I am extremely lucky that I have a spouse who is home from work every night and that I have family members in town who can help out when there is something I need. I know not everyone has those same luxuries. So do what you can, when you can. Find people you can lean on when you need them most. And, find self-care practices that fit your personality, lifestyle and budget.
If you can add just one simple thing into your routine, I’d suggest mindful breathing. It is simple, free, takes only seconds to do, and can do wonders (I begin each of my K-2 library classes with breathing practices). Something as simple as breathing: in through your nose, and out through your mouth; positive thoughts in, negative thoughts out; controlled, calm breathing. Repeat. You got this, mama.