Scene: You are sitting in the plane getting ready for takeoff and watching with amusement as the flight attendant shares with you the safety features of the Boeing 747 you are flying on. You get past the seat-belt demo, the tray table being upright, the emergency lights leading to the exits and then the big revelation comes as they share with you that if the plane should lose cabin pressure that you should “put your own oxygen mask on first” before helping others.” WOW! Incredible information, that after thinking about it makes perfect sense, how on earth can you help someone else if you are out of breath?
Scene: It is a normal weekday, you have been up since 6:30 AM (which unfortunately was only 5 minutes before the rest of your gang got up) made everyone breakfast, snuck in a cup of coffee, made lunches, drove car pool, fed the baby, picked up groceries, dropped off dry cleaning, grabbed a coke for lunch (you needed the caffeine pick me up) mopped the floor and cleaned the bathrooms while the baby napped, ran car pool again, fed the kids snack, broke up an argument, worked on homework, tried to get dinner started and you find you are losing your patience. Sound familiar? Do you feel like you are out of breath? Running on empty?
For years women have been fed a bunch of lies making us feel like we need to be sacrificing ourselves for the sake of our families. In fact, if we are not sacrificing ourselves, then we are selfish! I can tell you – if you are sacrificing yourself for your family, both you and your family will end up losing. You can’t help anyone if you are out of breath! Seems common sense, huh? But why do we moms have such a terrible time putting this concept into action?
I have a few ideas, one of the biggest being this idea that the term ‘self-care’ needs to be some grandiose, time consuming venture. But I think we have it all wrong. In order to be taking care of yourself in a way that is manageable, we moms need to find things that refresh us in small amounts of time too. It is not all about spending a day at the spa, (although very nice on occasion) the practicality of that is pretty slim that it can happen as often as we would like.
I would like you to take a look at ‘self-care’ from different perspective. Try figuring out what refreshes and refuels you in small time frames. Identify what re-energizes you and carve out time to make it happen, however that looks for you and your day.
Several years ago I started lists on note cards that I kept handy so that I wouldn’t have to think so hard on how to fit this into my day. I broke them down into 5, 15, 30 and even 60 minute time frames. This made it much easier to schedule these “breathers” throughout my day or if I had a spare 5 minutes that I could easily take advantage of that time for myself, rather than letting it slip by.
I encourage you to try it out. You may be surprised at how easy it can be to fit in things that lift you up and help you be better for yourself AND your family.
To get you started creating self-care habits, I have offered up some of my favorite ideas.
- 5 minutes
Make a cup tea
Light a candle in the area you are working
Sit quietly with your eyes closed
Lay down on the sofa
Play a favorite song on your IPOD
Read an encouraging verse
- 15 minutes
Walk around the block
Call a friend
Savor a nice long shower
Take a book break
- 30 minutes
Do an exercise DVD
Cut some fresh flowers and arrange them
Take a bath
Sit and read a book with your child
Do some stretching and deep breathing
Get out and walk the dog
If you need to schedule time in your day to make sure you fit some of these in, then do it. It will not happen by chance, you will need to be intentional and proactive to carve out the time needed to take a little time for you. I know if I put something on my ‘to-do’ list I have a much better chance of it happening. So, starting today…..put “YOU” on your ‘to-do’ list and make it happen. Your family will thank you for it!