This week a Facebook friend of mine posted this:
Self-care challenge – I have now realised that I had not taken care of myself leading up to my heart op and ignored many symptoms -working when I felt terribly unwell – and so now self-care is top of my list! I want to challenge my friends – each day think of one way you have done something for YOU (post below if you like) and if you find you haven’t, then do one thing before going to bed – self-care can be anything that FEEDS some part of you (whether physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, psychological….) Pre-surgery I was thinking how to go back to work as fast as possible – now I realise I have been given an amazing gift of health that will hopefully last for years and years and years! Not going to risk that……What my body needs most is ME to care for it! Self-care – what does it look like to you? (Candlelit bath? Cuddles with your child? A good book? Amazing music? Laughter? Phone call/Skype/FaceTime with someone special?) Challenge stands…..for us all…our mental health especially depends on it….
I replied with this…
Yep. Has to be done. I am actually not bad at this. Surviving the last fifteen years with the terrible twosome has made me realise I have to prioritise myself in order to care for them. I indulge myself (very!) regularly. Good that you are planning on doing this too. And when it feels that things are far too hectic to be self indulgent that usually means the ‘me time’ is even more essential. Oooh. Might write my next blog post on this…
Yep, it got me thinking once again about the huge value of making some serious form of self-care a priority. I would go as far to say that it is essential, not a luxury. When my children were younger, it was snatched minutes mainly, maybe a lucky half hour when they were both sleeping at the same time (an achievement in itself! Go me wondermum!) and instead of piling in another load of laundry, I would FORCE myself to sit with a cup of tea and a book. Now they are older it is easier to make slivers of time for myself most weeks; most days to be fair. Parenting is still challenging at times but has lost that desperate intensity of the early years. I am now actually pretty proactive about carving out time and creating treats for myself too. And I think it benefits far more than just me.
Without my ‘me time’ for example, would I have been able to laugh when I discovered this weekend that my twelve year old had used the trampoline to jump over the brambles and into the church land at the bottom of the our garden? Would I have been able to smile and see the funny side when the next day I looked out to discover on our lawn a go-kart acquired from said brambles? (The Vicar has a grown up son and it must have been buried for years.) Would I have simply retorted, ‘oh, whoops!’ when child then decided (without asking permission) to hose down filthy go kart on a very chilly February morning and hilariously (in his mind anyway) soak himself as well? Would I have been full of, ‘oh dear, never mind,’ when furthermore with go kart cleaned he located the WD40 in the shed and oiled it so well (mainly on the plastic parts!) that the entire can was used in one go? Would I have been able to suggest as calmly as I did that it probably wasn’t the best idea to use socks and gloves to mop up the excess lubricant? (They were taken quite literally off his hands and feet – a jumper would perhaps have been a more absorbent option but despite freezing temperatures he is always dressed in only shorts, t-shirt and crocs – with socks – don’t blame for his fashion style!). Would I also have simply commented, ‘never mind, we’ll find a way to sort it,’ when I discovered that in the process of getting the WD4o out of the shed he had somehow reset the padlock combination code and now the tool (and bike!) shed was inaccessible to the rest of the family? (Sorry dear husband.)
Okay, so an extreme example (but true – this really was the weekend just gone!). And obviously my impulsive little guy and I had a chat about some of these events and how he should perhaps of handled things differently, but my point is this; caring for myself by planning for and doing things I enjoy and sometimes, when we can afford it, spending a bit of money to treat myself, makes me better able to cope with life’s challenges (read: my two boys). When my cup is filled I am a better mother. If my cup is empty I am an unbelievably unreasonable negative and grumpy old witch (think a cross between Cruella Deville and Jack Nicholson in The Shining). Yep, I can certainly ‘blow my top’ in style, believe me! Of course I do still (often!) get to that losing the plot part of parenting when I suddenly find myself in full fish-wife screaming mode (sorry neighbours), and this can happen even with lashings of self care, but looking after myself as much as I can means it happens less; I have reserves of strength and energy to look after the challenges the children like to give me.
So boys, when I pour myself that glass of fizz on Friday night and refuse to budge from the sofa, or when I am sat with my book and say, ‘no, sorry, I am not coming right away to look at (insert game title/your drawing/that youtube video/the sleeping cat etc), let me finish this chapter first’, or when I take time out to go to the gym or see friends or listen to music and also when I spend money on a lush new handbag or a gorgeous sparkly (half-price! bargain!) jigsaw dress (ahem! )…. Know, boys, that I am only doing it for you. 😉
(The friend I talk about has since been writing regular Facebook posts as part of her ‘self-care challenge’ just stating what little thing she has done to look after herself that day. I think this is a fabulous idea! #SelfCareChallenge! Today mine would be writing this.<3)