When parenting, you have to be on all the time, happy, sad, tired or not. This means that the possibility of personal drain is very real. As a result, we need to ensure that we take the time to focus on our own self-care. Not only because we are creating the foundation for the generation we are in charge of but all the future generations that are to come.
As parents, it is vital that we learn how to distinguish between self- care agendas and self-care needs. When it comes to our well-being we are constantly being bombarded with an overabundance of information on a daily basis. This makes it difficult to sort out what is just alright and what is actually going to work.
What is the difference? –
One of the biggest differences between agendas and needs is the “doing of” what we think we should versus what we should actually “be doing”. This creates a level of expectation that sometimes is never fully met or satisfied. With an agenda, we become focused on what others are telling us we should be doing. There is often a push or pull state of being. Followed with a should I do this or that way of thinking. This usually leads to us ignoring our own body messages and looking for that one big fix that will take care of everything all at once.
Instead, we should be looking at what it is that we need. Start to ask questions that will move us in a direction that can help to solve the problem and give us the answers we seek:
What can you do to change that?
If you don’t make those changes, what happens?
Does this need to take place often?
A need could be as simple as reducing something down to a level that is more manageable. For example, let’s say we were wanting to get some exercise in every day but the idea of setting aside an hour or so each time to do that just isn’t reasonable. To avoid feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up before we even start let’s consider a reduced option. Perhaps we could walk around the block 3 times, a few times a week, using up only 20 minutes of our time. This way we are fulfilling not only our original need but in actuality even more. We are being active while getting fresh air as well as spending some time alone to reset ourselves.
Changing the way we think and perceive our needs can be all the difference it takes to make the changes we want. You will find that with needs there is a different frame of mind than that of an agenda. When addressing a need there is usually a way to satisfy it in a simple, immediate, consistent and repetitive fashion. Much like our needs to eat, sleep and move. Your body will signal you more directly when there is a need versus an agenda.
Self-Care Tips #2 – Consumption Vs. Nourishment –
The difference between consumption and nourishment is that nourishing options will sustain us over a long period of time. It continues to sustain us whether our life is changing or not. Of course, it is alright to experiment and try to figure out what fits into and sustains us in our lives. Although at the same time, it is also important to understand that what worked for us 10 years ago may not be what we need now or even 3 years down the road.
With consumption, there is this side of impulse where we make snap decisions based on what others are telling us is good to use. Impulse decisions are very different from that instinctive knowing and awareness that comes from taking that little bit of time to pause before deciding. We all make mistakes and spend money and time on stuff that we don’t really need or will most likely never use again. Learning to stop and listen to your body, take that pause before making a set decision is one of the most important and biggest learning curves we need to take on, on this journey of self-care.
Nourishment, on the other hand, does meet a need and there is a tangible result. A result that brings about a sense of delight. “Oh that was good or Wow that really made me feel better”. This has a lot to do with the context you are currently in. Let’s say you were looking at a commercial where everyone is happy. Understandably, you want that same happiness; but if you just take a second to pause and ask yourself this question; “Would that particular choice fit into my life?” You may find that it is not the right time, it is really not for you or it is not something you will keep up with regularly. By pausing, questioning and listening to your body you will ultimately lead yourself to the true nourishment that you are seeking.
Self-Care Tips #3
As parents, we tend to get very busy. When we have kids our lives become more about others than ourselves. The focus is external, getting laundry done, driving kids here and there, ensuring everyone is fed and all the rest that comes with being a parent. Eventually, if we don’t take some time for ourselves we start to forget who we were before we had kids. Our mind and body start to whisper; “What about me?, Where do I fit into this picture?” This can lead to built up resentments, grief and emotional breakdowns with family, friends, and coworkers.
Take A Look Back –
Remembering who you were before you had kids helps to remind you of your sense of purpose.
Sometimes reminiscing over old photos, scrapbooks or even sharing stories from the past with your friends helps to resurface the “You” that has been buried underneath your parenting role. Collect some of those memories again and revive the energy and feeling you had back when you were freer. Allow those thoughts and feelings to come into your body and move into the context of your now.
Allow Yourself To Dream Again –
Remembering what your dreams were, what you were interested in can revive and return the spirit of life back into your soul. Sometimes this process will bring a period grief. Grief at what you feel you lost or could have had. Feel these feelings but don’t stay there in them. Instead, take that zest you had for your life back then and instill it in your current daily life now. Do this by taking the time for yourself to do what it is that makes you internally happy and fulfilled.
The Future –
Keep moving forward. Keep growing and looking towards the future. Understand that it is possible to really love your kids, to enjoy them and be there for them all while still having a sense of yourself and fulfilling your own needs. Be patient with yourself as sometimes it takes months or maybe even a year to really revive some of the things we had wanted to do before we had kids.
The best part about these self-care tips is they are; free and can be as simple as you want. Self-care is immediate and you can receive immediate results. Take that little bit of a pause to check in to see what is actually nourishing you. Ask yourself, “What do I truly need here?” versus “What do I think I need?”. Help yourself remember who you were. Focus on the areas that made you thrive and bring some of that into your here and now.
Self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time but rather it is about tending. Start listening to your body, recognizing your needs and begin to be aware of the signals being sent. This will help you to move forward in a positive fashion. Tune into yourself and turn out something beautiful that can be shared with everyone.