We all know that self care is an important part of our physical and mental health, but most of us put it on the back burner anyways. If you’re like me, you have a really good excuse, too. Like “My kids are more important” or “My business is crazy right now. When it settles down, I’ll take some me time” or my go to: “I don’t have the money to take care of myself. When we make more, I will”
Until recently, my idea of self care was those women who seem to have it all together. They get their nails done regularly, drink lattes and get their hair cut more than twice a year. And since I am my children’s only caretaker 75% of the time, plus juggling my businesses and going back to school (paid in cash, thank you very much), self care just isn’t really in cards right now. Right?
WRONG! Self care isn’t about treating yourself. It’s about filling up your physical, emotional, and mental gas tank, and keeping it full! Here are 3 simple questions to ask yourself in order to fill up the gas tank:
“How can I make this easier?”
Another way to put this is “What is just too much to handle right now?” Maybe it’s your kids. Maybe it’s taking on too many clients. The best way to make something easier is learning to say no. I know that that can be hard for a lot of people, but it is crucial for self care. When you say yes to everything, you are giving quantity, not quality. And while low quality might be working for some areas of your life; your kids, your spouse, and you, deserve more. This is what led me to pursuing part time care for my kids. I love them dearly, but spending 15 hours a day with them was not making me parent of the year. Now that they are at MomPlex for 16 hours a week while I work on my businesses, I have more energy and desire to be around my kids. I’m a quality parent, rather than quantity. And that’s a good thing.
Saying no to more things gives you freedom to enjoy the things you say yes to! And it’s free! If this is something that’s really hard for you, I recommend reading the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud.
“When do I feel myself running low?”
For me, this used to always be Sunday nights and Monday mornings. After having help from Hubby all weekend, the thought of being alone with my kids all day for the next 5 days was overwhelming. I would dread starting my week, and would start Monday off in a pretty crappy mood.
So now, Sunday nights at 8pm, I have a date with myself. I drive down to the gas station and I buy a soda and I fill up my actual gas tank for the week while I clean out my car. Then I sit in the back of the car with a pen and paper and write down 5 things I want to accomplish that week (1 per day). I let those 5 things be my measure of success. Sometimes they are as simple as putting away the kids laundry. Then I go home, put my kids to bed, and call it a day. I get to start my Monday off with a clean car, a full gas tank, and a guide on what I need to get done; rather than feeling full of dread and resentment. It cost a whopping 80 cents for a soda, and 30 minutes out of my day.
Identifying when you are feeling run down, and doing something about it on a regular and consistent basis, makes a world of difference .
“Where am I not taking care of myself?”
Food, water, and sleep. Easier said than done, right? But these are basic human needs that so many of us throw out the window when life starts getting hectic. So if you are skipping breakfast, buy a box of granola bars at Costco. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to start winding down.
But what needs are unique to you? For me, I am not myself when I don’t go to yoga 3 times a week. My self confidence drops, my body hurts, and I just generally feel like poop. So I had to redefine yoga for me from a fun pastime, to an actual need. And now that I see it as a literal need, I go more consistently. It is as important to my well being as food and sleep. So, what needs do you have?
Maybe it’s working out at the gym, or a date night with your spouse. For some parents, it might just be a shower without worrying what the kids are doing. Identify your needs, and treat them as a matter of life and death.
Ok. That’s great and all. But what about the budget?
Glad you asked!
MomPlex covers a lot of my self care needs for a low monthly fee. A break from my kids, time to work on school and my business, yoga classes. Talk about bang for your buck!
Ask for discounts. My cleaning service gives me discounts when I refer people, so does MomPlex. You can also offer to volunteer for a discount! My yoga studio offers free classes in exchange for cleaning the studio.
Trials and freebies are an essential part of my self care regimen. I’ve found several local yoga studios that offer an unlimited week of yoga for $15 when you go for the first time. I’ve found boxing classes, art classes, and even gyms that offer free introductory periods. Try out new things. Take some me time. Trust me, you need it.
So what are your needs? How are you going to keep that gas tank full?