Three Tips for Taking Care of You
In response to my blog last week, "Holding myself sacred," I had a girlfriend reach out with an amazingly practical question - how do I do it? With all of the demands of life, how do I honestly find time to take care of myself without feeling guilty about the things that are otherwise not getting done?
For her, finding time to rest results in mom-guilt or wife-guilt. Oh, you too?
Now let me say first of all that I do not pretend to understand the challenges of finding time for "rest" while raising littles. Parenting is not a stage of life Dustin and I have reached. But I like to think the following are helpful principles for holding yourself sacred, no matter what (or who) is fighting for your time and attention:
1) Put yourself on your list. Yep, right there next to the laundry. Add a line item for you. Whether that means drawing a checkbox next to "bubble bath after the kids go to bed" or "watch episode 5 of Westworld, from bed, with a bowl of popcorn," or maybe even just "put on mascara today," begin to put items on your list that are just for you. If you make yourself as important as the chores staring you in the face when you walk through the front door, then you'll be more likely to think of it as a "productive" activity to do the things necessary for your piece of mind. And if you're being "productive," there's no need to feel guilty, right?.
2) Be Scarlett O'Hara when necessary. Okay, by this, I'm not suggesting that you make a dress out of drapes or even that you model your personality after Scarlett. While she was a tenacious character, full of spunk, she's also perhaps not the best role model. However, she did have one approach to life that I think can be especially relevant when life overwhelms you - "After all, tomorrow is another day." Oh, you didn't get to the dishes before bed? Tomorrow is another day. Oh, there are still toys in the living room? Tomorrow is another day. Of course I wouldn't suggest leaving dirty dishes in the sink for days on end, but if you need to push something to the next day because you simply need tonight to rest, then frankly, my dear, go for it.
3) Give yourself grace. You don't have to do it ALL RIGHT NOW. Look at your list and decide what is the most important thing that day. Do that. And give yourself grace for not getting all of the rest of it done. If the most important thing today is to have tea with your 2 year old daughter or trim back the hedges that are overtaking your front landscaping, then do that. If that means you throw a frozen lasagna in the oven for dinner instead of crafting home-made marina, good for you. You've won the day.
Truthfully, it is simply exhausting to try to get to everything on your list every day. I've had to learn to space out the chores so that I can work in those items that are just for me. Maybe today the only chore I will accomplish is to run by the post office. Maybe that means I'll leave vacuuming for tomorrow and laundry for the day after that. And in the meantime, I'll make time for the gym (something that does make me feel relaxed). Maybe I'll make time to finish a book or start a new devotional. Or maybe I'll set aside time to do absolutely nothing. Once in a while, that is okay. After all, tomorrow is another day.