I love those few blissful moments of quiet after I’ve finished buckling my screaming/flailing/thrashing children into their car seats, and I shut their doors to walk slowly around to the driver’s side. The chaos of my life is contained in that mostly soundproof vehicle. My body and mind are all mine on that short but sweet journey to the other side of the car and I almost forget the madness that awaits me inside. I take a deep breath and enjoy the momentary freedom.
Small breaks like these help keep me sane on a daily basis.
But sometimes… they don’t. And I need more.
I’m not just talking about your regular self care, mani-pedi, re-charge type of more. In fact, “re-charge” is one of my least favorite words when it comes to surviving parenting. I am not an iphone. If only it were so simple as plugging myself in for a few hours and then BAM I’m good to go for the rest of the day.
Sometimes I get a mani-pedi and you know what? I return home and my patience disappears as quickly as it takes one of my children to chip a freshly painted nail (I would generously estimate that at about .032 seconds). Sure, getting a mani-pedi feels great. Yes, of course, I love those massage chairs and that foot scrub that no one wants to admit actually hurts. But once it’s over, I’m immediately irritated at 8 different things. What is wrong with me?? WHY CAN’T I HOLD A CHARGE?? Am I broken? Do I need to go to the Genius Bar??! I don’t have time for that.
I have learned that self care and “re-charging” are not so simple. At least it hasn’t been for me. Relaxing with traditional forms of self care don’t always refill my battery in a sustainable way. It took me a surprisingly long time to acknowledge that. But once I did, I started to re-assess how I spent my coveted “me time.” Don’t get me wrong, I love any and all forms of traditional self care. My most highly anticipated gift from my husband on birthdays/holidays is a massage at the fancy spa in the trendy hotel nearby that has bottles full of creams that smell like heaven on the counter top. It’s just that when I need to REALLY reset my mental and emotional state, I have found that a few other self care activities provide more dramatic and lasting results.
Below are a few self care ideas that I use when I’m in dire need of a serious re-set.
All of these activities are clinically proven to use a different part of your brain than parenting, thus, making them truly restorative. Just kidding. I have no idea what area of your brain they use. I just know they make me feel better.
- Scheduling: Organizing my time makes me feel productive and reduces my anxiety over feeling like I don’t have a plan or that I am going to miss out on something. I mostly create lists and use a planner when it comes to scheduling. Bonus points if I can schedule in a coffee shop among other adults, drinking adult things, listening to adult music.
- Writing: One of the most cathartic things I’ve done since entering this crazy parenting world is opening up a word doc and just writing. I’ve never been one to keep a journal, so it took me awhile to buy into this whole write-down-my-ideas-when-it’s-not-a-school-or-work-assignment. But it feels great to let my mind go and see where it takes me. It also helps me work through a lot of the crazy feelings and thoughts that come along with motherhood.
- Researching: I Pinterest SO hard. I can’t even begin to explain how many awesome things I have discovered as a result of this platform. I’m a ride-or-die Pinterest fan. If it were a person, I would want to be its best friend (except that I would probably be intimidated by her worldliness). From interior design, renovation ideas, recipes, kid’s activities, landscaping – it’s like Pinterest pulls together the best ideas from all these areas just for me. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it highly therapeutic to spend a nap time scrolling through ideas about playroom organization or setting-up an “invitation to play” (Spend some time looking up “invitation to play” and you’ll feel like Maria freaking Montessori and that you are winning at parenting)
- Purging: Not sure if there needs to be any further explanation or detail here. Marie Kondo has got that on lock down. I’m also pretty sure every blog ever has written about the sorcery of your soul that is purging. So, purge.
- Do something uncomfortable: This can be a VAST range of things. Maybe it’s reaching out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time and you know the conversation will be awkward at first. But you power through it to re-establish a connection that brings a rush of happiness and fulfillment that only friendship can provide. Or maybe it’s blogging. This is uncomfortable for me. But I’m pushing myself and enjoying working through the uncomfortableness to find feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Do you have any out-of-the-box self care activities?