I don’t know about you, but when it comes to caring for myself, I know I could do a lot better. Can you relate?
I’ve heard the analogy that as a mom, you have to “put on your oxygen mask before helping others put on theirs.” However, when there are dirty diapers to change and hungry kids waiting at the table, it feels nearly impossible to stop and take a few minutes for myself.
Recently I attended a workshop where the speaker was talking about the importance of naps for moms. She advocated taking at least one nap a day, suggesting you could even sneak a 10-15 minute snooze in your parked car. All I was thinking while I was sitting there was, “Are you kidding me?!?” That luxury is nearly impossible with the ages of kids I have! I’m pretty certain that if I took a nap during the day, when I awoke at least one of the children would be injured or missing, or the house would be on fire.
So what could caring for myself look like during this stage of life? I’m finding answers in a concept a wise friend taught me over a decade ago.
At that time, I was working for a non-profit that held their volunteer training at a camp in northern Minnesota for four consecutive weeks in the fall. As a staff person, the days were very long and the breaks were few. Come to think of it, it sounds a lot like parenting!
During the training, my friend and I were chatting about how tough the weeks got, and she asked, “What are you doing to care for your future self?” I looked at her blankly. She continued, “What can you do for your future self to make these weeks easier, or what can you do to treat yourself? For example, put fresh sheets on the bed before you leave so you come home to a clean bed when it’s over and you’re exhausted. Or buy your favorite kind of ice cream and put it in the freezer for when you come home.”
Her words were transformational for me. I always thought caring for myself had to be a big deal – like a weekend retreat or a vacation with my friends. Such simple terms, fresh sheets and a tub of ice cream, are doable for me. And fun, too!
I’m leaning on that advice again in these full days of parenting. There isn’t time or funds to get away for a weekend retreat or a vacation with friends, but I can find small ways to care for my future self (even without napping in the car).
What can you do today to care for your future self?