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What is self-care?
Self-care means taking care of yourself to refuel, or replenish your own energy. It starts with the basics like sleep, eating, and hygiene, but we often forget that mentally, emotionally, and spiritually we need to do things that rejuvenate us as well. Self-care includes doing hobbies you enjoy, meditating to stop wasting energy on stressful and pointless thoughts, loving yourself through hard times, journaling, reading, learning, golfing, visiting friends, working with a coach or therapist…. anything that you feel less stressed and more FULL and ALIVE from!
Exercise is actually a tricky form of self-care because in the long run, it helps you feel better, but strenuous exercise can further deplete you. Since exercise literally burns your energy, if you’re really strapped or depleted, focus on stretching and strength with an exercise like yoga or even light walking rather than intense cardio.
Why is self-care important?
Self-care is critical, especially if you’re a parent. Not only does your body use energy with movement, it also uses it with every single thought and emotion you feel. So every time you even think about your kids or coach them through a stressful situation, much less get a cup of milk or change a diaper, you’re using up your energy. Once you’re “used up,” you’ll start to feel anger with every request. Your whole self is screaming to be refueled! “Take care of ME FIRST!”
How do I fit in self-care with little kids?
Here are five ways you can fit in self-care when you have little kids:
- Outsource/get help: Your self-care is a PRIORITY. If you struggle to have enough time to do it all, hire someone to do it! I know this is a privileged perspective, but if you DO have any money to spare to get help with the tasks that are exhausting you, do it. Or, if the money isn’t there, ask your friends or family. Don’t pretend that you can do it all. Exchange help with a close friend or ask that relative that loves your kids if she could hang out with them while you get a much-needed nap in. What is life without having a supportive community? If you don’t have one, build it!
- Get up early or stay up late: I know this seems counterintuitive, but I absolutely adjust my schedule to include earlier mornings or later nights if I need to in order to fit in meditation and the things I love. I know right away if I’ve missed too many nights of meditation because I get more reactive with my kids and feel more overwhelmed and stressed out. I also use my evenings for the courses I’m enrolled in and for reading, which is one of the ways I refuel.
- Join a gym with a daycare and meditate + workout: That pricey gym down the road might be worth it if it includes child care! Your kids will love having a little break to go play with new people and toys while you take an hour for yourself. If possible, find a quiet spot to sit and meditate in addition to your workout, or just stay on your breath (rather than watching TV or listening to music/a podcast while you do your workout to get both in at once.
- Meditate while they’re busy/falling asleep instead of using your phone: I know I’m totally guilty of picking up my phone when I need to be near my kids but not necessarily involved in what they’re doing, like while I lay with my daughter while she falls asleep. Instead of wasting that time endlessly scrolling, use it to meditate. Meditation isn’t something you have to do in a quiet room with no distractions. The point of it is to move from high beta brain waves (stress) into alpha, delta, or theta brainwaves, no matter what’s happening. You’ll increase your ability to stay calm under pressure when you can stay on your breath or mantra in the midst of chaos.
- Journal or read: I haven’t found a place yet that I’m not able to journal or read while with my kids. Granted, I get interrupted a lot, but getting a snuggle in while I write is feasible. Journaling is so powerful because it trains you to listen to your own thoughts and fully process how you think and feel. Ask yourself questions and tap into your inner wisdom. My husband has found journaling to be a great help and makes time for it every day. Keep one journal for venting and one for wisdom, such as after your meditation.
Fitting in self-care isn’t optional in today’s world. We must do it to raise healthy children, maintain our mental health, and better connect with others. Even parents with the youngest children can find ways to squeeze it in and create happier memories of this season in their life.
P.S. If you’re ready to optimize your life and enjoy the self-care of having a personal coach & mentor, book an appointment with me today.