Take ‘Self’ Care

I have been learning some valuable lessons recently.  Lessons about myself, my time and my priorities.  Ironically, I think i had learnt these lessons a few years ago but then my life changed, I became a mum, time passed and I seem to have forgotten them all over again.

These lessons have been helping me to understand how my brain works and why sometimes, I allow myself to act on the thoughts it sends me without a second glance at how those thoughts might be impacting upon me.  You see, I have a habit of responding to every single thought, in a long line of thoughts, without considering what I need for me. For example, last week, instead of doing my exercises (the ones I’ve been given my a physio because my lower back is so tight my pelvis is all out of line) my brain told me that i needed to change the sheets on the spare bed.  I started i… straight away.  The sheets on the bed that will not be slept in until Christmas… Those sheets, took priority over something that I should be doing for my own health.  Goodness knows why.

We’ve just changed the bed time routine so that I do stories one night and then Matt the next. This has given me a whole 30/45 mins all by myself, every other day.  That might sound ridiculous but that really is a new thing for me.  For a while, I was being good and using that time on things for me… but recently I had started to let work, chores -well anything and everything use that time instead.  I heard myself say to Matt the other day “I’ve decided that, now I have this extra time to work in the evening, i’m going to allow myself one hour a week to watch Downton”  REALLY?  Did I just say that.  Lucky me! lol

See… i’m special… but I’m learning… 😉

24 hours

We only have 24 hours in a day.  No matter how much we try, there are still only ever 24 hours in a day.  Have you ever stopped to think about what you do with those hours?  Last week, I was asked to try something that really helped me to ‘get it’.

Have a go yourself… See what you learn:

Grab an A4 sheet of paper and fold it longways

Now imagine that paper represents 24hrs of your day.

  1. We all have to sleep to function. So, rip of a section from your paper that represents the time you are asleep
  2. We all have to work to make money to keep that roof over our head so we can sleep.  If you’re a stay at home mum… that’s work 😉  If, like me you do a bit of work and a bit of stay at home mumming you might want to just represent work here.   Anyway… rip off a section that honestly represents the time you work… Not the time you’re paid to work, or your official office hours, but the time you actually work.
  3. Now… if you’re a parent and you haven’t counted it in the work section, rip off a bit of parenting time.
  4. Studying?  That takes time too… so rip off the time you spend studying a day
  5. Chores….  making food, cleaning, gardening, making the bed etc…  Yep… rip off a section for that too.

How much paper have you got left?  Any at all? Some? Lots?  You see, we can’t compromise on any of the things we have just ripped away from our day and what’s left in your hand,  that’s what represents the time you have left for you.  For your self care.

When i did this exercise I was left with a tiny strip of paper. I looked at the big pile on the arm of the chair that I had just created and I realised how precious and important that tiny piece of paper was to me and how it is definitely, NOT OK for me to allow my brain to use the precious time to change sheets, to get that marking finished, to do anything other than take time out.  Especially, when I don’t manage 8 hours of sleep all that regularly anyway!

It was explained to me (and i really shouldn’t have needed to have this explained to me because it’s obvious!) that the more I allow this time to be taken away and used for other things, the more tired I become and the harder it gets to stop and consider what I need to be effective.  It becomes a vicious cycle in which I get tired, I can’t function properly, i get stressed and anxious about it all and then it feels like world is going to end.. anxiety… i love you (not).

I used to be incredibly guilty of this behaviour when I was teaching full time.  There was a lot of pressure to do everything, right now or yesterday and a lot of pressure to take it all home and carry on there too.  I got better at NOT doing that by setting boundaries.  But then I didn’t have a little dude to look after so when I got home it was so much easier to chillout and switch off (and get all the houseroom done).  That’s not humanly possible anymore.

What is Self-Care?

I can’t tell you what Self-care is for you.  As I was told, it’s a very personal thing and you’ll have to decide that yourself.  My next step was to do just that: define what Self-care is to me.  I took this to mean time out for me, on my own.  To do things that are healthy, helpful and let me switch off and relax. Even if all day I get 5 mins there has to be something I can do with that 5 minutes for me.  I made a brainstorm and put it on my fridge – with a 2 year old boy i spend a lot of time at the fridge.  So now, my list of things I do for ‘self-care’ is in my face everyday. Reflective writing is one of them.  This blog is where I usually do that… you can see how well i’ve been doing with that.

I also need to be kind to myself and be flexible.  I have a habit of being “ALL OR NOTHING” and that can disable me.  It’s quite fixed mindset of me actually!  If I used to go to the gym 3 times a week then, if I can’t achieve that, i shouldn’t bother at all…etc…. no.. not helpful brain.  We can go for a walk, we can have one attempt at jogging. I”m not 25 without a child anymore.  There just isn’t enough time in my day to squeeze in all that gym and some other self-care options.  So no… we won’t aim for that.  I’ll make sure though that I am clear that we get very little time to take 5 and whenever that time presents itself i’m going to claim it, wholeheartedly for myself and do something from my list for a little while.




1 Comment

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  1. Andy 4 years ago

    Great writing there 🙂 , I wish I can write as well. I just don’t articulate my own thoughts well enough. But yeah, ‘me’ time is always important, regardless of age or situation, everyone needs to rest.
    Andy recently posted…Why do kids always get what they want?My Profile


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