Self-Care at Home

Self-Care at Home

To say that life has changed is an understatement.

Up is down.

Left is right.

Day is night. 

For many of us, that last one is especially true. I’m seeing lots of people talk about sleep.  These days it’s a struggle to fall asleep at night and it’s hard to stay awake during the day.

Why? Stress levels are through the roof.

It doesn’t take much scrolling on social media to see evidence of the stress people are feeling in this bizarro world.  Schools are closed and kids are e-learning.  Offices are closed and parents are working from home.  Everyone is stuck at home with nowhere safe to go.  One life change can cause stress to increase, but everything has changed all at once.

It’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. No wonder we’re stressed!

So what do we do?

Well, the answer that everyone gives that is sure to help is this…

Self-care.  

But what exactly is self-care?

Before the pandemic, self-care seemed to have a hint of indulgence to it.  Standard suggestions were pedicures, massages, or girls night out.  While these are all good things (and can even be important things) depending on your finances and responsibilities, they can also at times feel outright selfish.

I balked at the idea of what I saw as self(ish)-care, I resisted it.

Turns out, I had it all wrong.

True self-care isn’t selfish at all, but rather is a well-rounded way to take care of oneself.

Self-care is

Spiritual
Educational*
Life-giving
Fitness

As moms nurturing our families through cancelled gatherings and sheltering in place, true self-care is more important than ever.

So how do we do it?  And more specifically, how do we do it in the midst of a pandemic?

*You might be wondering why this isn’t Emotional.  When self-care does it’s job, it all speaks to our emotional (and mental) well-being, so the emotional aspect is the end result.

Spiritual

The spiritual component of self-care is how we tend to our souls.

  • Prayer, meditation, or Bible reading are simple ways we can do that regularly.
  • Attending a church service can feed our souls and build community, and right now almost every church has their services streaming online.
  • Podcasts can provide encouragement.  My favorite, The Next Right Thing, comes out each Tuesday.
  • Bible studies via Zoom are popping up everywhere (just ask on FB and you’ll be pointed to several options)
  • Pray with a friend over the phone.  I do this with friends each month.  We’re 3 women living in 3 different states praying together via phone and we ‘ve been doing it for almost 10-years now. It is a huge blessing!
spiritual self-care at home

Education

The educational component of self-care engages our brains.

  • Take an online class
  • Learn a new skill (I see lots of baking and cooking skills being honed)
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a book (Audible or Hoopla are great resources)
  • Watch a documentary
  • Podcasts are great here, too

Life-Giving

Life-giving self-care activities are what nurture our spirits.  In fact, most of the things we listed above as what we traditionally think of with self-care may actually fall into this category.

  • Do your nails (I recently discovered dip nails and love them!)
  • Soak in a hot bath
  • Binge on Netflix
  • Crawl in bed early with a book
  • Engage in a hobby – mine is taking pictures
  • Have a virtual coffee date with a friend over FaceTime

Fitness

Fitness is caring for our bodies.  It’s eating right, sleeping well, and exercising. All these things keep our bodies (and brains) strong.

  • Take online fitness classes
  • Go for a walk (alone)
  • Turn off your alarm and sleep until you wake up
  • Order a new water bottle to make drinking more water easy and fun

When we take care of ourselves, we can take better care of our families.  And bonus, when our kids see us doing these things, we’re modeling them and they’re learning how to do them for themselves.

And hopefully along the way, we’ll manage our stress and get some sleep.

What would you add to this list?  I’d love for you to comment and share your ideas.

The Importance of Self-Care: YOU!

The Importance of Self-Care: YOU!

Recently I heard a friend of mine say, “Your kids want to be you.  Be the best you, you can be.”  It was said casually but it resonated.  It was in line with something I share in “9 Things Moms Can Do to Raise Confident Kids” but it put it in a new light.

“Your kids want to be you…

In  “9 Things Moms Can Do to Raise Confident Kids” I talk about how our kids often want to be just like us and then raise the question of what part of mom will they be emulating?  Someone really good at planning meals, or someone really good at connecting in relationship?

It’s a valuable thing to consider and something which I strongly believe will transform who we are as moms.  Are we family CEOs or primary caregivers?  Even without a salary, both can easily sound like jobs if we lose sight of the mission we’ve been given as moms. The specifics of our mission are going to look differently depending on the resources we have to work with and the needs of each of our kids, but the general goal is to love, nurture, teach, and raise up our kids to become kind, thoughtful, and generous people who positively impact the world around them. 

So we focus on the relationship and character and support it with all the things that make home safe, comfortable, and inviting.  Sounds good, right?  Yes.  But it’s still missing something.

You.

On my homepage my core values are “Taking Care of Kids, Taking Care of Home, Taking Care of You.”  It is so easy to focus on the “Taking Care of Kids” and “Taking Care of Home” aspects and to set aside or even forget the “Taking Care of You” part.

So that’s why this next part really got me thinking.

…be the best you, you can be.”

When I say “self-care” what do you actually hear?  Pampering?  Selfish? Rest? Or something else?

We’re told about the importance of self-care, but even so, I find myself bristling when I hear the term self-care.  It has often been couched as a way to legitimize doing what you want over doing something for your family.  Manicures, massages, and girls nights out are all marketed as self-care things that are good for you.  But if time and money are your limited resources, they might begin to feel more selfish than important and just exactly how do you justify the importance of self-care when it feels selfish?

So instead, let’s call it soul care.  That sounds more noble, right?  Set aside time to read and meditate and care for your soul. Just a few minutes each day all to yourself.  But sometimes that even competes with something else.  I have a 20-minute window of calm and quiet.  I also need to make that phone call, get dinner started, and gather supplies for the school project we have to get done tonight.  Taking that time to read feels selfish when I could do that later when the kids are in bed. It’s easier to understand the importance of self-care if it’s about my soul, but my soul is just part of who I am.  Even in its nobility it’s still not enough.

I started using the term smart care because that felt less focused on what I wanted and what I needed to do.  As a description it still feels like the best fit for me, but even so it is still a touch manipulative because it can’t be selfish if it’s smart, right? It’s just not quite right.  It doesn’t go far enough.  It’s still too much about labeling.

But…

…when it was couched in terms of my kids wanting to be like me, it flipped the equation.  How I care for myself is now no longer about me and selfish desires.  It’s about what I need, not only as it relates to raising my kids but even more so when it comes to what I want to model for them.  How I take care of myself will influence how my kids take care of themselves.

Modeling the importance of self-care

I have the benefit of having toddlers, tween, and teens in our home.  With the older kids I can see how what I modeled when they were younger has been embraced and emulated.  It’s natural to see the negative patterns, but trust me when I tell you that it’s easier to help your kids course correct when they’re younger.  I have a new opportunity to intentionally do some things differently as the Littles grow up.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

As I think about good days in our home, I can see some common threads begin to emerge as far as the things I need for myself – things I want my kids to see modeled – and I made a list:

Things Jenn needs:

  • Sleep! I’m a 9-hour a night girl and while I can get by on less, it catches up eventually.
  • Solitude! I don’t want to miss out on anything, but I need times of quiet to myself.  Sometimes I need a nap, sometimes I watch tv, and sometimes I even do a mundane chore, but mostly I have space to hear my thoughts and let things mull around in my mind.
  • Soul-care! I need time to read my Bible and share my heart with God through prayer.  As a mom I find myself praying often throughout the day and while that is a great habit to nurture, I also need intentional time.
  • Spontaneity!  Being a planner means I really like to know what’s coming next, but within that I enjoy fun.  If we see a gorgeous sunset brewing, let’s grab our shoes and chase it down.  When we hear fireworks, lets go see them.  If a neighbor is having a garage sale, let’s stop and meet them.  Spontaneity doesn’t have to be huge, it can be simple.
  • Spouse!  This should be marriage, but I had to keep the S theme going.  When my marriage is good, the tough challenges of parenting are easier to tackle.  I feel loved and supported.  My kids feel secure. We feel like a team and not just a household of individuals.

When I remember the importance of self-care and have these things in place, my kids get a mom that I am much more willing to have them be someday.

So, what do you need?

What do you need to be the best you, you can be for your kids?  It might be hard to come up with a list out of thin air, so over the next week or two, stop and think about your day.  If it’s a good day, think about why it was, or if it was a rough day, think about what was missing.  You will begin to see the patterns emerge so that you can figure out what your “best you” needs to breathe.

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My Trip to Overwhelm and Back

My Trip to Overwhelm and Back

Overwhelm has a way of sneaking up on you.  Like the long shadows of summer, you suddenly realize the brightness of day is disappearing and before you know it you are consumed by the darkness of overwhelm.  It just happens.

For me, it was tied to trying to be the one to handle everything.  I had always been told how organized and capable I was, so therefore, I believed, I should be able to handle any challenge.  Which, if these had been singular event challenges, may have been true.

But I added challenge after challenge to my plate without making trades or concessions to allow the emotional and scheduling capacity they would require.  Add to this that my husband was struggling with depression, so I was also trying to serve as a buffer and handle things without tapping into his limited emotional resources.

And then we moved from a home we were renting into our very first owned home.  It was perfect in every way – except the timing.  Our move was “squeezed in” between a lot of life that couldn’t be slowed down or postponed.

The day after our move I had a fundraising gala that I was organizing.  The kids still had six more weeks of school in 2 different buildings with 3 different schedules, so my days were spent driving and in the car rather than unpacking.  And then we left on a 2-week trip just days after school ended.

I kept waiting for things to get better, but they just never did.  I felt like my soul was tired and I was struggling with focus and motivation.  I almost felt like my brain needed to be defragmented just like we used to do on our computer with older versions of Windows. I was living deep in the heart of overwhelm.

And then, life got even crazier!  Totally out of the blue we were surprised by an opportunity and moved forward with adopting a sibling set who were in the final days of a fast approaching deadline that would have put them into the foster care system.

Talk about overwhelming!!!

In the months leading up to this strange turn of events, I had been feeling an overwhelming sense that I needed to dig in my heels and focus on catching up on certain things that I was responsible for: our financial data entry, homeschool record keeping, and some other projects that weren’t pressing but were important.  They weren’t anything terribly difficult, just time consuming.  And doing them would only benefit me – there was no downside.  But I had resisted.  I had made excuses and I had squandered my opportunity to prepare for what was to come.  So, as we stood at the threshold of a completely changed life, I was wishing I had followed the promptings that God had so graciously given me.

I was now trying to create time and margin in a schedule that didn’t actually have any margin.  I was rearranging things left and right.  Our oldest, had become a licensed driver just a month earlier and at the time I hadn’t been ready for my baby girl to be driving, but now having a 3rd driver in the family was a huge blessing!

But this exciting and amazing life change also just about pushed me over the edge.

And one day I got up and realized that my strategy of waiting for things to get better had run its course.  Waiting wasn’t ever going to make things better.  In fact, it had made things harder.

I mustered up all the mental energy I had and tried to figure out one thing I could change.

And it hit me…

I could control the laundry.  At that moment it was everywhere!  Between growing babies with constantly changing sizes, larger size clothes coming into our home by the bagful, and the diaper mishaps, we were surrounded by laundry.

Taking control of laundry was my first step on the road home from overwhelm because it was a relatively easy win.  Unlike some other things, I could make a change to our laundry system and know within a couple days if it was working.

Chances are pretty high that laundry is something you find challenging, too.  To learn how more about conquering that battle, click here to read L.A.U.N.D.R.Y: A Laundry Routine That Works

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