On a normal day, this is what happens for me:
I'm up at 5am with Cannon, giving him his bottle and cuddling for a minute. Crawl out of bed shortly after and creep downstairs for some quiet, Bible, and coffee. Kids trickle down between 6:50 and 7:10 and I'm pushing them around the house like hockey pucks trying to get them ready for school. Out the door by 7:30 and I do a little rearranging. Fix the pillows, light the candles, and maybe a little sweeping. When Nick gets back, I go over the day with him - business notes and church ideas and meeting times. More coffee and hopefully a smoothie or some oatmeal.
And then the day is off.
Babies, meetings, emails, prints, or writing. Sometimes I'm at home and sometimes I'm out at a coffee shop. All of a sudden it's carpool lane time and the kids are home and I'm in full-mom-mode for a few hours. We do homework, shuffle school papers, make dinner, and maybe I sneak away for some yoga or running. But every night, almost every night, when I sit down at the dinner table - I can't help but notice...
My hair is disheveled at best. Did I brush my teeth? I think I brushed my teeth? I don't really want anyone to ask me how many days in a row I've been wearing these yoga pants. I loved this black nail polish last week, but this week it's chipped and icky. My head aches slightly because I'm sure I've had too much coffee and too little water. My little people? They're hydrated and healthy. Clean for the most part and wearing fresh clothes. They've slept well (minus the baby) and their teeth are clean. They are taken care of, but I am most certainly not. The truth is, I stink - absolutely stink - at self care.
If you're not aware, instagram is by far my favorite social media application and over the past few days, I've gotten a little vulnerable and talked a bit about this on the old IG. Seems like all the other ladies there were concurring. Showering, sleep, and even eating right - those all seem like giant mountains that a lot of moms absolutely cannot climb on their own. Not only does it seem impossible to take care of ourselves, it also seems like a lot of women feel incredibly guilty or selfish for even thinking about it.
Well, I'll tell you. I'm on a quest.
I myself am believing that God loves me and cares for me the same way I care for my kids, well - I'm believing He loves me even more than that. I'm knowing that while this is not a season for me to always look perfectly manicured or have hours of free time to read and pluck my eyebrows, I can still do some basic self care so my kids grow up knowing that I respected myself and my husband can recognize the lady putting the food on the table. This year "basic self care" is on my six month goals and I'm tackling one thing a month. January - skin care, February - showering/hair care, so on and so forth. But I'm also looking at the heart of the matter, and asking some questions about why this is so hard for so many women. Here are some thoughts I came up with.
1. We don't know what we need most.
Sometimes our picture of balanced and normal self care feels crazy far away and wildly unattainable. For me, sometimes when don't know where to start - I don't start at all. I just keep living with my flag flying at half mast.
What I've found to be super helpful is to make a list starting with what would make me feel most normal and take baby steps from there. For me what I NEED most is 30 minutes to an hour alone with the Lord in the morning. That should change the way I go to bed at night and it should change my priorities. After that, I NEED to exercise so I need to plan my day around 45 minutes to an hour to move my body. I don't need to wake up and be completely put together, but I need to know the cornerstones of the things that keep me from falling apart.
2. We make other choices.
There are seasons where we can't spend hours and hours taking intense care of ourselves, it's a fact. There are days I can't find the time to shower or nights where caring for babies and sick kids is more important than a full night's sleep. BUT I am noticing that there are times when I say I don't have time to shower, eat a healthy breakfast, exercise, etc. but what I mean is I'd RATHER do x, y, and z. I often choose watching TV at night over taking a shower and going to bed early. Or maybe I choose browsing instagram and pinterest over taking ten minutes to put on makeup.
There may be days or hours where we genuinely don't have time to take care of ourselves, but let's be sure it's not that we're choosing to use our minutes to do something that may seem relaxing, but is not actually helping us.
3. We don't ask for help.
Let's cut to the chase. There is ALWAYS someone who will be on our team if we need help to really take care of ourselves. It's to our husbands benefits that we look and feel like women who CARE and remember that we're women. I have a feeling that most of them, if sat down and talked to in love, will genuinely want to help us - don't you?
After that - do you have a mom or mother in law nearby? A sister? A friend you can swap a few hours a week with watching each others kids? If all else fails, ask your kids. Get down on their level and ask them to help Mommy while she spends thirty minutes reading? They might take a while to learn, but who knows how helpful they could become in the process.
And never, never, never forget to ask the Lord to help you care for yourself. He loves you and He wants good for you. He may provide you with what you need to feel normal or He may just provide your heart with the patience and joy you need in the meantime.
4. We feel out of touch.
Sometimes I don't want to try to cute myself up because I feel like - womp, womp - I'm a mom. I don't know the cool things. I forget how to do my own makeup and my roots are more grey than they used to be. Bad excuse thought, right? Pinterest. For all the hate pinterest gets about making us all strivey and comparison-y, it can be a huge tool to help us feel checked in and knowledgeable about how to care for ourselves. If it's not pinterest for you, grab a magazine, or plan a self-care-girl's-night. Don't feel silly that you're out of touch. Just get back in as quick as you can, as much as you need to.
I have a few pinterest boards that super help me in my self-care.
My faves: my stitchfix inspiration board, wild and free, and inspired design
5. Lastly, we knee jerk.
I think the biggest thing I see in my heart and the women I've talked to is that we tend to do a massive knee jerk where taking care of ourselves is concerned. We're worried we're too selfish, so we replace selfless with a strange form of self abuse. We see other women abuse the ability to care for themselves, so we deem it all an unworthy cause. Or maybe we've been the women who abused the time and resources given us and we're scared we'll go off on an indulgent tangent again.
I think daily walking with God, as mothers and women, we can find that His heart is that we'd be daily stewarding the gifts He's given us in our hearts, minds, bodies, and passions. This is a season where our hands are full, but that doesn't necessarily mean our basic needs should go unmet.
I'd love to hear what you think.
Are there other reasons you avoid self care or is it a different struggle for you?
Is one area harder than another?
Let's walk together and see what we find.