To quote Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) “Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.”
If we replace self-development with the words self care this quote becomes a parenting message. Oftentimes we parents become SO focused on caring for our children that self-care isn’t even in our vocabulary. And I confess if lack of self-care were an Olympic sport I’d win the gold medal!
For example, I remember my own self-care epiphany: I’m a mom of 6 children, 1 son and 5 daughters, in the laundry room – AGAIN…feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and unappreciated. Trying to convince myself matching a mountain of unmatched socks can be a thrilling adventure. With foggy brain cells I decide to add some excitement to this chore by attempting matching-socks mental math,
“Let’s see, 8 people in our family, 2 adults and 6 children. Each of us has 2 feet, and there are 2 socks per pair socks and 15 pairs of sock per person…”
And then I hear it! Wow! Something outside! The roar of adventure, coming around the bend towards my house! The GARGABE TRUCK! In my mind, I escape from the laundry room and jump onto the side of garbage truck in a single bound! Hanging on to the side of the truck with only one hand I feel the thrill of the ride as we continue on its route throughout my neighborhood. The wind blowing in my hair like those s-l-o-w motion shampoo commercials. With a Cheshire cat smile, I wave like the Queen of England to my shocked neighbors and gleefully shout “HELLO!” I have sooo much fun imagining it all.
But then hearing the ever so familiar, “MOM! HEY MOM!” Yep. I’m snapped back to reality–the laundry room.
In that instant, I realized I needed some self-care in my life. Self care: taking time to care for oneself. Somehow putting your needs in the mix of this journey called parenthood may seem selfish or time consuming. And it may be hard to believe, but taking care of YOU is a gift to others as well as yourself! If you take the time for yourself, you will have more time for your children and be a more content parent.
Often times we parents let our own needs slip down the priority list. But when our giving and receiving are out of balance, when what I call our “human-doings” far exceed our “human-be-ings,” we become overwhelmed, stressed, energy-depleted short-tempered and less joyful.
Please take a minute and think of a time when you did something special for yourself. How did it feel? Self-care time feels like self-love, affirming I matter too. And that is healthy.
Some Introspective Questions:
- When was the last time I took a moment for self-care?
- How does self-care make me feel?
- What one exercise in self-care can I add to my daily or weekly routine?
- What methods can I put in place to make sure my self-care doesn’t keep getting canceled and rescheduled indefinitely?