One of the most difficult concepts I ever had to learn – and that I still sometimes struggle with – was the importance of putting me first.
As Moms, our lives revolve around other people, especially if we take care of little people.
We make sure they get where they need to be. We put meals on the table. We help with homework, volunteer at schools, assist with extracurricular activities, give hugs, and kiss boo-boos.
We make sure they get enough sleep.
We poke. We prod.
At the end of the day, we likely have cared for children, our significant other, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, the laundry, the dishes and the garbage.
We’re beat. The next day, we get up and do it again, trying to put on a (circle your best answer):
- really happy face
- mostly happy face
- sometimes happy face
- not happy face
Did I just describe you?
Well, I certainly described me, particularly for a few years after our youngest son was born.
The attention that I constantly gave to others, to putting them first, almost led to the unraveling of the life that I thought I was working so hard to build.
I was frustrated, tired and unhappy. I yelled. I steamed. I stuffed it inside. Sometimes I smiled.
Thank God for the messages and the messengers that God kept sending my way. I finally paid attention. My Great Life Reboot began, and it began with self-care. I looked inward. I sought answers by reading, praying, discovering.
Here’s what helped me:
- I sought God. I had gotten all of my priorities out of alignment and needed to get it back together, starting with my relationship with God.
- I got help. I grew up with the mindset that if someone went to a mental health counselor, it meant they were crazy. Guess what? It doesn’t. It’s OK to make that call. Friends are a great outlet, but few are equipped with the skills needed to help us navigate the murky waters. My therapist taught me about mindfulness and many other techniques that helped me grow and heal.
- I began to exercise. I started small, because I hadn’t exercised in a really long time. I began to walk, even short distances. A few months later, I started strength training at a gym. If you haven’t exercised regularly, or ever, start small. Walk to the neighbor’s house, then around the block. Increase your distance each day. It’s a great stress reliever.
- I prioritized sleep. This was a big one for me. I used to stay up late to do things to have my “me time” or to get caught up on work or housework. But then I still had to get up with small children. I was hanging by a thread, having panic attacks and health issues. Sleep is a critical component of self-care.
- I cultivated my mind and heart. What do you enjoy? I love to read, take photographs, and create scrapbooks. You may love to garden, cook, or hike. I reconnected with my passions, just a few minutes at a time, and that helped me find my true north again. If you had a free afternoon and no responsibilities, what would you do? Create 15 minutes to do it this week.
Question: What stops you from putting you first? What are you willing to give up this week in order to make time to take better care of you?