Am I the only one who gets overwhelmed by Pinterest? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest. Except that lately I find that I fall short of my grand expectations. Not because I am failing. Not because I am not a good wife, or mom, or housekeeper. I fall short because I compare myself to others. Comparing my reality to a picture of someone else’s perfectly posed life is a surefire way to make me feel inadequate. Sometimes I forget that in virtual reality, I only see what people want me to see. Where as in my own life, I see it all: the mess, the mistakes, the motivation fizzle. So, in an attempt to be honest with you and with myself, I am going to (self-consciously) tell you about some lessons I have recently learned.
If you’re like me, you define yourself by what you are to others – a wife, a mother, a friend, an associate (the list is endless.) I rarely take time out to think of who I am beyond those titles and the work that comes with them. My husband – my husband is amazing! He constantly reminds me of the importance of being more than just “mom.” He encourages me to take time to do things for myself. For a long time, I thought doing something for myself meant going somewhere, with different people, doing something I don’t normally get to do. While I do love girls night out, it isn’t exactly the stress-reliever I always thought it should be. I think it is very important to get away from time to time, but I always had an unrealistic idea that going out once or twice a month was all that was left of “me.” I realized that when I would go out, I wasn’t really unwinding, I was just putting “mom” and “wife” on pause. I would come home and all the stress would pile back on. Just the weight of being “mom” (meaning constantly being needed by a tiny human for everything, all the time) is exhausting. And for some reason I had it in my silly little head that Self-Care was Selfish. My hubby told me I was ridiculous, but did I listen? Of course not. I had to figure it out on my own.
After a few weeks of loose thoughts rattling around in my brain, I sat down and made a list. (i LOVE lists!) I wrote down things that I enjoy, things that help me relax, things that make me feel like “me.” And you know what? Most everything on that list could be done in my own house – ALONE! I realized I don’t need a whole evening for myself or some special occasion to help me unwind and enjoy the life I am living. I need to be purposeful in what I choose to do with my time! I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new, but I am a little slow apparently.
I have to take care of myself before I can take care of others! There is nothing wrong with taking time to simply be myself. Even a few moments of “me time” completely changes not only how I feel about myself, but how I treat those I am with. I am learning to give myself grace. Grace for the moments I need to step back and breathe. Grace for the pile of ironing I haven’t done in weeks. Grace for the (not-so-checked) check-list.
Now I try to be intentional about how I take care of myself throughout the day. Not in a self-indulgent way, but in a manner that embraces who I am and what that moment holds for me. I consider my morning Bible time/prayer journal and coffee part of my self-care. You got to start those mornings with Jesus and joe or the day just won’t be right! Throughout the day I remind myself to keep a STRESS-FREE house, Not a SPOT-FREE house. For me, that means that my laundry and dishes are mostly kept up…anything more than that (and I actually do more than that I promise) is nice, but nothing to stress myself over if it isn’t done right away. I say “no” to some things. Putting unnecessary stress on myself isn’t healthy for me or my family! In the evenings, after the little one’s asleep and me and the hubby have had our special time together, I take an hour or so before bed for me to relax. This includes things like a nice warm bath to soak in, or hot tea and a good book. I love to listen to instrumental music! It’s so peaceful and calming. I have a Pinterest board full of pictures that I like to look at, things that evoke a sense of peace deep in my soul (beautiful scenery, fluffy animals, pretty food – BREAD! yes, bread. I really love bread.) Even washing my face is on my list. Clean skin is so relaxing to me. I like to plan out my tomorrow in a hand written list of tasks I would like to accomplish and goals I would like to reach, but each list always has a reminder at the top: My Life is Made of Moments, Not Check Marks!
Slowly I am learning the art of grace in the face of self-care. What is on your list for intentional self-care?