Let me paint you a picture.
It’s my sophomore year of college. I am working several jobs, taking a full course load, and involved in several (some of them time-consuming) extracurricular activities. I felt like I had everything going for me . . .
Until I was alone. When I was alone I would just break down. I was so stressed out. I thought I could do it all, but doing it all was killing me.
With the help of some of the wonderful people in my life, I was able to step back. I shifted some of my responsibilities and quit a few of the jobs.
And then I got pregnant. And I don’t know what it was about being a mom and I don’t know if this was made worse by being a stay at home mom, but suddenly I felt the pressure rising again. Suddenly when that awesome little person got here, it became a lot easier not to take care of myself. This was definitely made worse by the parenting style I was then trying to follow.
It took me a while (and a lot of help from Nick and some good friends) to realize that hey, I am a person too. I can take breaks. I can eat food. I can do something that’s purely just for me. These things are okay. No, beyond that, I have the radical notion that these things are necessary.
Do I always do a good job at this? No, I struggle terribly with this. I still feel guilty sometimes if I feel like there’s something else I should be doing.
But you know what? I am a person too.
I am a person too.
I do not know why this notion feels so radical to me. It feels obvious – like duh, I am a person.
But sometimes, I do not treat myself very much like I am a person. I think mean things about myself. I push myself harder than I would ever push anyone else. I expect perfection out of myself even though I don’t expect it from anyone else. I frequently tell myself I am a failure. I would not tell anyone else they are a failure, but for some reason I feel it’s okay to tell myself that about me. I expect that I should keep going all the time without stopping, like I’m the mom version of the energizer bunny. In short, I am not kind to me. I fail to exercise self-care.
Guess what this leads to? More burn out.
But now, with kids, more burnout leads to more crabbiness. To more yelling, even when I don’t want to. To less patience. To less fun. To more stress.
I can not think of a less cliché way to say this, but I had to learn to put on my own life jacket before I put on the life jacket of my family members. Because I can’t do them any good if I’m drowning.
So what does treating myself like a person look like practically?
It means extending grace to myself. To not speaking and thinking so critically of myself. To take time to nourish my body with food and drink. To take time to do something for myself (this blog being one of them). To remind myself daily that I can do this.
Am I perfect at this?
No, no I am far from perfect at this. It is still a struggle. I felt for so long that I could just push away my needs and make them not exist. But instead of making them not exist, I just melted down. Melting down is not good for me. Melting down is not good for my family.
But I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. I believe taking care of myself is important and I’m trying to live like it is. It’s an imperfect journey, but it always will be this side of heaven.
How do you practice self-care? Is this an area you struggle with?
P.S. If you’re reading this post, you should enter my Skunk Tales giveaway! Super easy to enter and it’s a great family devotional 🙂