I have been working on taking better care of my self physically and emotionally.
As a mother, I spend my days tending to the many needs of a tiny human. Often, those needs are completely ridiculous and extremely draining.
I am a wife, career counselor, editor, lover, friend and adventurer to my husband.
I take care of our dying cat, dispensing medication twice a day, subcutaneous fluids once a week, and playing with her every evening for at least 30 minutes, if not more.
I take care of our other healthy, yet high maintenance, cats.
I take care of the house, keeping it reasonably clean and functioning.
I keep everyone fed with home cooked meals.
I manage our calendars, plan menus and parties, go to doctors appointments, run errands, host play dates and more.
I do a lot for other people and too often very little for myself. On the days I do nothing for myself I am short tempered and have no energy left for my husband. After several days of this, I start to feel the panic welling up in my chest and begin questioning everything I am and do. My house and family do not run like a well-oiled machine when I fail to take care of myself. Instead, things grind to a halt.
A few weeks ago I developed a system for keeping tabs on self-care. Every morning I wake up with 6 points. Every time I do something for someone else or a chore, I deduct a point. Every time I do something for myself, I add a point. The things I “do” for myself are anything that supports me physically or emotionally. For example, going to the gym is +1. Taking Sabine on an adventure at our favorite park is a +1. Doing laundry, cooking dinner, etc. is a -1. Here is how today’s points will shake out:
+ 1 gym
– 1 get Sabine ready for and dropped at school
– 1 go to therapy (that is a -1 because it is EXHAUSTING)
– 1 pay bills
– 1 clean kitchen
+ 1 read on the couch for 20 minutes
+ 1 take time to blog
-1 pick Sabine up from school
– 1 run errands
+ 1 take Sabine to the playground (this is fun for us both)
– 1 cook dinner
– 1 get Sabine to bed
I don’t always break even with my points. Sometimes I am in the negative and sometimes the positive. What keeping track of the points does, though, is keep me aware on how I might be neglecting my needs. I have a little mental list of things I can do to replenish my points throughout the day if I realize I am in the red. Sometimes I’ll set Sabine up with an episode of Curious George and escape to the bathroom for a facial and 10 minutes of time with a book. Sometimes I’ll take her on an unplanned walk to the lake to feed the ducks. Little things that make my day happy and resonate with a something more – a clean face or a happy memory.
How do you manage self-care while parenting? What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself on a regular basis?