Over the years my self-care needs have changed. For me, self-care used to mean going out of the house and being away from my kids for a while. Being in the house was not relaxing for me as a stay-at-home mom. I would sit down and try to relax, watch a show or read a book, but I was still surrounded by things that needed to be done. It was impossible to relax knowing that this room or that room needed to be cleaned; there was laundry somewhere; or thinking I should plan the next meal I needed to cook … not to mention that sixth sense all children seem to have.
You know what I’m talking about. As soon as you sit down and put your feet up, the “mom thinks she can relax” sensor goes off, and the kids show up out of nowhere asking for help with something … everything.
The only thing that was self-care for me as a stay-at-home mom was taking a hot bath. I would have to lock myself in the room and make sure it was clear to all humans that I was not to be disturbed. Although the catch was that my bathroom needed to be absolutely clean for me to actually be able to enjoy it. Sometimes just trying to take a long shower was all the self-care I would be able to get.
But still, that was not enough. It may have brought a very brief period of relaxation, but it wasn’t rejuvenating. I didn’t feel like I was gaining back the energy that had been drained from me that week or that day.
I have recently become a working mom and staying home is more relaxing for me now.
After being gone all day, for me, sitting on my couch, even with my kids around, is relaxing. It definitely helps that my kids are older and more self-sufficient.
It’s funny to me that as a stay-at-home mom, self-care used to mean being away from my kids, and now I try to work my self-care to include my kids. So when I go out for a manicure, my daughter comes with me and there is usually some ice cream involved. When sitting on the couch with my feet up, I usually have one of my boys snuggled with me watching one of the funny family shows we both enjoy.
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So what is self-care?
Self-care should include taking care of your social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs. Not saying that these needs will all be met at once, but it is important to be aware of which of these needs are not being met.
Here are a couple ideas of what self-care might look like for you.
Date nights were always a form of self-care for me. As a stay-at-home mom, date nights for me meant that we had to go out of the house. Sometimes we would go on short outings that were just 30 minutes to one-hour dates. My husband and I would grab dessert and park in front of a lake or ocean (depending on where we were stationed at the time) and just enjoy talking to each other and catching up on things.
Now that I’m working all the time and so is my husband, we don’t need to always be out of the house. I have been so busy, and I drive a lot for my job, so I have recently learned that our date nights are going to be a little different. Plus we pay for after-school childcare every day, so we can save a little money by creating date nights at home.
On our last date night, we stayed in. I went on Google and printed out a list of questions to ask your spouse. We have been together for seventeen years (fifteen married) but answering some of these questions turned out to be very fun. It was interesting to see how we have changed over the years, and how much we haven’t changed.
I stopped by the store after work, grabbed some cheeses, crackers, and a bottle of wine. Once our kids were snuggled in bed, my husband and I settled in for a quiet evening. We snacked, talked, answered silly questions and then watched a movie. It was such an enjoyable yet simple date night. I felt rejuvenated as an individual and in our relationship.
Sneaking Self-Care In
There are times that I’ve had to figure out how to sneak in self-care. I want to spend time with my kids, but I also know that I need to take time out for myself.
What I have learned is that when I don’t take time out for me, I am so empty and have no energy for anything including my kids or my job. So it is important to realize that mom’s self-care is good for everyone.
When I find myself doing too much and not giving myself breaks, that is usually when I end up getting sick. No one benefits from mom being sick.
One day I knew I had the sitter until 8:00pm. My husband was out of town, and I got off work two hours early. At first, I thought, “Oh good I can get home early, see the kids, and save some sitter money.” But then I realized it was actually a perfect time to get in some “me time.” I decided some retail therapy would do the trick. I needed some new pants anyway, so it worked out well. It was just shopping, but it felt good. In that short period of time, I felt rejuvenated and still got home to see my kids and love on them before bedtime.
It would be nice if we could find time every day for self-care, but that may not be possible because life is just busy. But if you can start with finding time for yourself just once a week, it can make a big difference for you and your family. It may be only 15 minutes that you get to listen to music or walk around the block. But it’s a start.
Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. For me, if I get sick, I still have to clean the house and feed the humans. So it is important to take care of yourself, get your “me time,” and don’t feel guilty about it.
Self-care should include making sure your social (relationships), physical (exercise, sleep), intellectual (reading, learning), emotional (love, affirmations), and spiritual needs are met. Take some time and Google self-care ideas, figure out what you need in your life right now, and take care of yourself.
How do you fit self-care into your schedule? What are some of your favorite self-care routines?
Share in the comments!