I’m not the best at self care. I’m not alone in this–many, many sources discuss self care and how mothers aren’t taking the time to practice it. We’re so busy caring for everyone else in our families! But it’s so vital that we care for ourselves, fill our own tanks so we have enough gas to keep up the work that’s so important to us.
For me, self care is often a big mental hurdle. I have to mentally prepare to even risk making a phone call to schedule an appointment for myself. Will my kids shriek in the background? Will I mishear the time of my appointment? It seems so insignificant, but making phone calls during business hours with three young kids at home is no small feat.
Then there’s the actual going to the appointment. Provided I’m able to schedule, say, a chiropractor appointment to address my searing hip pain that’s been plaguing me since pregnancy–provided this appointment falls in the magical window between nap and school pickup, I have to deal with all the car seats and parking while I go to this appointment. I have to pack a bag of snacks and diapers and toy vehicles. It’s exhausting.
But I’ve been making the effort to go and to do it, because I can’t chase my boys on scooters if my hip hurts. And if my boys can’t scoot, we’re all in the house yelling at each other and that’s miserable.
I realized last week that my chiropractor is always running 25 minutes behind. Always! Because of this, I intend to stop going to that office after my last appointment. Even realizing that was so freeing– that I could simply find another provider who had better availability and fit into my schedule. (Now, somebody pester me until I actually make an appointment with the new provider!)
I wanted to share a few things that have helped me eke out some self-care, because I know it’s so hard!
1. Find child-friendly providers. There’s a difference between “oh. Yes, I suppose you can bring your children to appointments,” and “sure! We love kids here. Please bring them.” Does the waiting room have toys? Does the office have sharp or dangerous things on low shelves? Is the staff actually cool with children or are they just tolerating you and your minions? Finding providers who really support young families makes a huge difference in my ability to continue self-care.
2. Declare your intentions out loud. If I sit and marinate the idea that I should really do something about the painful skin tag that’s grown right along my bra line, I’ll find a million excuses to postpone treatment. If I actually verbalize to my husband that I’ve got this painful thing happening to my body, he will respond, “You’ve got to do something about that.” Much as I would tell him if he revealed a painful tooth or similar! Saying it out loud, for me, means I have to do it.
3. Put it on the calendar. Self-care looks different for everyone. The thing you need to fill your tank can vary, but one of the most restorative things for me is exercise. I’m not trying to go crazy here, 8 weeks post surgery with a bum hip. I’d like to use our rowing machine for ten minutes, though, and work up to longer workouts each day. If it’s on my calendar, not only will my phone beep to remind me to do it, but my husband also sees it as an appointment, as time that has been claimed. For me!
What has helped you to care for yourself? Leave us a comment to share your ideas.