This past year has felt like a dream within a dream. When I try to think back to the early moments of Clair’s life those moments are in such a deep fog that it’s hard to see them for what they truly were. All I remember is what I felt, which was a mix of exhaustion, major anxiety, excitement and so much love and hope. I say this all of the time but Clair truly does live up to her name. She is our little moonbeam, our light contrasting the darkness, she fills the deepest and darkest corners of our hearts with so much happiness and warmth. She has brought an incredible amount of clarity into my life, or should I say “clairity” but really. How is it possible for a human so small to bring such a clearness to my life? There are so many things I have been able to understand about myself and so many things I have been able to understand about life because of her. What I have come to know as important, what I have come to know as truth, and what I have come to see as the right thing to do and believe, are all because of her presence in my life. The connection, the bond, the deep understanding and trust, all of these things that I thought I would never be able to feel, I feel them entirely with her.
If there is one thing that I would like to impart upon those that haven’t yet walked the path of motherhood, or who are on the path but feeling somewhat lost and confused about where you are heading, it is that self care will set you in the right direction. My sister-in-laws are some of the wisest women I have ever known and a few weeks ago I was talking with them about what they have learned in their experience as mothers. Both of them expressed the importance of making self care a priority every single day. I felt that what they shared with me was so wise and so helpful that I wanted to share it with my readers.
So, what is self care? The way I see it is that you are consciously aware of specific needs that are directly linked to your happiness and wellbeing. These needs will be different depending on the person and these needs might take some time to figure out. However, once figured out, these needs might need to be expressed to a partner, spouse, or significant other so you can make a plan of action on how to accomplish these each day, week, month, however frequently you need, really.
One example of a self care that my sister-in-law Bergen shared, is her need to have one night out of the week where she can go wherever she wants, no questions asked. Her husband stays at home with the kids and allows her to have time to herself without interruption. Bergen told me how this night really allows her to reset, unwind and rest her body so that she can be a better wife, mother and overall person. Bergen also talked about how she has a monthly need of getting together with a small group of close friends. She feels rejuvenated and energized by this time with close friends and walks away feeling happier and more able to give of herself. That’s an important thing to realize you guys. We need to take time for self care or we won’t be able to GIVE anymore of ourselves. So a good measuring stick for how well you are doing at self care is to notice how giving you are feeling. If you notice that you are running super low on giving oil, it’s time for some SELF CARE.
Let’s move on to the task of learning what your personal self care needs are. So, something important that goes along with this task is understanding what activities will actually result in self care and what activities will not. Understanding this difference is directly related to how well you truly understand yourself and your personality. For example, if you are introverted, like me, activities that involve large groups of people will probably not leave you feeling energized and rejuvenated. If you are like me, you’ll leave feeling exhausted. What I really need every once in a while, so lets say monthly, is a get together will a small group of my close friends, just like Bergen. I will leave that time feeling super energized, inspired and animated. Another activity that isn’t linked to my self care is BINGE WATCHING Netflix. As much as I love my binge, I do not feel more giving afterwards, in fact, I often feel more annoyed and more selfish. That’s just me though, for some people binge watching Netflix might help them feel rejuvenated.So listen to your body as you experiment with different activities! If you leave feeling exhausted and stressed, that’s probably not an activity that you can put down on your self care list. If you leave feeling energized, rejuvenated and in the spirit of giving, that’s a definite YES activity. Just know that it might take some time to figure yourself out. I haven’t quite figured myself out yet and I’m working hard to do so.
So let’s say you’ve figured out your happiness/wellbeing formula. Now what? I would say the most important thing now, in the words of Nike, is to JUST DO IT. Make them a priority and express these needs to your spouse. The reason I keep mentioning expressing these needs to a spouse is because most married people with kids will have a hard time fitting these needs into their schedule WITHOUT talking and planning with their spouse. Communication is key you guys! Take it from me because as much as I wish he was, my husband is not a mind reader and most guys aren’t so you’ll have to take time to explain your needs to them. Make a plan together, or on your own if you’re single, and stick to that plan. The biggest thing that I can add to this is to not sacrifice these self care activities. They are just as or even more important than the rest of your work because without them, you might start to drown. I know lately I’ve been kind of a mess and as I’m writing this post I’m realizing that I haven’t been making time for self care. That will change starting tomorrow.
The last thing that I will say about self care is to not be afraid to try lots of new things. The greatest advice I heard from my sisters-in-law was to keep trying different things. Things, that you might not have ever considered your “thing,” might very well turn out to be the best self care activity. You might be trying running for a few weeks and realize that it’s not a self care activity and need to change it. That’s ok! Change them as much as you need to until you come to the perfect formula for you.
My personal formula is looking something like this:
- Yoga each day
- 30 mins of writing time each day-blogging, journal, brainstorm etc.
- At least an hour each day that is my alone time-no baby, no husband. And this time is not after baby is asleep, this is after hubby comes home from work. Daylight hours.
- Listen to a full album each day. (I’m a big music gal)
- Personal reflection time each week. This is where I set goals, make plans and revisit my vision for myself. I usually take a couple hours each week where I realign my goals with my vision.
- Date night with Levi (this one hasn’t been happening for a while since moving to AZ but i’m working on it)
- Weekly FaceTime with a close friend (haven’t been consistent but trying to change that)
- Monthly hangout with a new friend (ok, I haven’t been doing this but I WANT to start)
- Watch a new movie each week (by myself or with Levi, doesn’t matter I just love movies)
- Learn a new song on the guitar each week
This list isn’t close to being done, I just wanted to show you what my formula is looking like right now. As I’ve been taking time to figure out my self care needs, my self esteem and self love has been growing too. It’s been really cool to feel my confidence growing and my dreams widening. Positive energy isn’t my natural tendency, maybe it used to be but it hasn’t been for some time, but as I’ve been working on self care I’ve noticed more positive energy in my life. I just can’t express how important self care it and I invite you to try it!
I hope this post was helpful to most of you and that most, if not all of you, will work on your self care happiness formula. I’d love to hear from you the things that work for you!
Take care guys, literally.