I have kept alive two animated and adventurous daughters for two and three years, respectively. I like to think I know how to care for others.
At 34, though, I’m still learning how to take care of myself. In my life until now, I’ve neglected self-care. It’s hard.
I have no time left in my packed schedule, and two babies who depend on my husband and me. I’m grateful that my husband works hard and leans in; but he can’t provide my self-care.
As I’m slowly learning, self-care is like a muscle; that is, you have to exercise the instinct for it to become stronger. Self-care is different for everyone. It can be a daily routine, like I need to shower nearly every day. Self-care can also be a deliberate event like going to a movie alone or the spa. At first, I didn’t know what I needed to take care of myself, sad as that is to admit, but I knew I needed to figure it out.
Here are four things I do for self-care.
1. Start a new book.
For three years I did not read a book. Yikes. Reading was something I had once loved to do. I had forgotten how much joy I found in reading just one chapter of a new book. After that long three-year hiatus, I turned to non-fiction and self-help, or as I like to think of it, “self-improvement.” Whatever my literary pleasure, I’ve always enjoyed starting a new chapter for myself.
2. Take a bath or shower of luxury.
I take just as much pleasure in faking spa luxury as I do in enjoying the soak. I embrace the power of tea candles, bath salts, soft music and dimmed lighting. I equate rose petals with ultimate luxury, so I adore using a rose face mask. I sometimes add lavender oil to the water; or maybe a fizzy bath bomb, but I’ve found them to be messy. When I’m done, I towel off completely and saturate my skin with lotion or body oil. Leaving the bathroom, I feel at peace.
3. Run cold water over my wrists.
When I’m feeling stressed – both kids are melting down, dinner is burning, and I am about to join my children in the drama, I remind myself that I need self-care. And then I follow through, which is just as important. To do this, I run cold water over my wrists. The act is simple and the sensation is calming. It forces a moment’s break for perspective and it reminds me to take care of myself too.
4. Create a mini adventure.
I loved traveling in my twenties. The independence, adventure, and learning of new things were all experiences I enjoyed. Traveling made me feel alive. Although I am far from frequent flyer miles at this point, I make mini adventures for myself. Sometimes I share them with my children and family; other times, my mini adventures are just for me. Recently on a Sunday morning, my youngest and I trekked to Truce, a local fresh pressed juice bar. This month, I am registered for a class on making colorful French macarons at Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe.
My mini adventures and other self-care remind me that while I may be many things to many people, I am also an individual. My self-care puts a “me” in this “Mama.”