Last Friday, I got my hair done (professionally) for the first time in a year. It’s generally not something I spend my money on, but I was feeling drab and needed to do something for myself. I was feeling tired of everything, always giving to everyone else, and putting myself aside.
When we forget to take care of ourselves, it’s really hard to continue to give ourselves completely to those we love, especially our children. My family and my friends are good at being encouraging and loving and saying kind things to me and it helps me, but sometimes the voices in my own head sound so loud and seem to be screaming at me that there’s no reason to care for myself, the kids are more important and I don’t want them to go without. I started to feel like what I was doing for my kids didn’t matter and even though I know better about expecting kids to have a complete understanding of putting others needs ahead of their own sometimes, I start to feel like they don’t care about me. It’s silly. I know they do. I don’t have a boyfriend and I don’t really go out where I need to get dressed nice and so sometimes I just figure why bother?! Pretty soon, I’m just a Pity Party of 1 and everything sucks. No one likes to be around anyone like that.
Self-care is so so crucial. Being a single mom, there seems there is no time ever for anything really. It’s hard enough for partnered moms, but I have been that too, and it is by far harder for me as a single mom to make time for myself. Getting my hair done made me realize how vital this is.
Self-care isn’t always dropping a ton of money on getting your hair done. It is making yourself a meal YOU love (the kids will deal and maybe even love it). Maybe it is putting a few dollars away each week and buying yourself new gym shoes when you have enough. Or it’s going to the bookstore or coffee shop to just sit, read or do something on the computer you have been wanting to do. A yoga class on Saturday mornings. Spending time gardening. Journaling. Listening to YOUR favorite music. Going for a walk or putting yourself in nature to feel the sun on your face and clear your mind. My 9 year old thinks it’s the funniest thing that one of my favorite things to do by myself is have some organic dark chocolate that I don’t have to share with them.
Fall in love with taking care of yourself.
Your mind, body and spirit.
It’s the little things, just as much as it’s the big things. I’ve recently started a gratitude jar, for when I need a little reminder of all that I am grateful for. I believe the little things we do for ourselves sustain us in between the bigger things.
When I was 9 or 10, my sisters (8 years old and 12 years old) and mom and I were in a hotel. I’m pretty sure we were bickering as siblings do. Mom was trying to get things settled and figure out dinner or something and we just were not helping the situation. She finally called us all to the bathroom. She had two glasses. She filled one with water. She poured a little water out at a time as she gave examples of how she gave her time, love, energy to us and how soon her heart felt empty (like the glass). She then went on to show how when she gives a little, but she also receives love, her heart never feels empty (or she never runs out of that energy needed to keep giving). She told us she never really runs out of that love she has for us, but when we do our part to help, get along, put things away, do our chores, she feels stronger for all of us. It was really cheesy in the moment, but left a lasting impression. Now as a mom myself, as my kids grow, I see that they understand this sort of thing, too. I can see that I, too, start to feel empty when I’m giving-giving-giving and feel like I’m pouring my all into my family (naturally), but not seeing that they want to do their part.
No one really “runs out of” love or energy, however, I can tell when I’m not taking care of myself because things feel off, unbalanced.
I’ve learned that when I do things for myself, I set a standard for myself in how I want to be treated by others and my kids to learn that doing things for themselves isn’t selfish, wrong or unheard of. I want my kids to feel like they are important, but that I value myself as well.
How do you practice self-care? What are some of your go-to’s when life is overwhelming and so busy you can’t find more than a few minutes to be good to yourself?