I cannot be the only one who sees all of the ‘me-time’ memes and thinks ‘how’? Or reads all about how important it is to take care of yourself first, because, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, whilst flailing around and juggling dozens of tasks? No, I thought not, we’re all in this one together, I think.
Parenting is hard. Parenting during a lockdown, whilst a pandemic rages around us and our kids are cut off from their school friends, family and routines, so much harder.
Being a parent of primary aged kids, I have many friends in the same position. And I know that they are struggling with this one as much as I am.
We know that we need to take care of ourselves. We know that taking time out is important so that we can keep going, stay positive and keep our kids reassured that their world is OK. But when and how?!
I can’t think of a single one of my friends who doesn’t put her kids first. It’s just what we do as parents, isn’t it? We focus on their comforts first. We ensure that their emotional needs are met, especially in times as uncertain as these. We help them adjust to homeschooling, we reassure them that we are safe, we look for ways to make our days fun whilst living under restrictions and we remind them of the adventures still to come. One day.
Then we are just about done. All energy, positive vibes and reserves are all used up!
It is hard to then summon any enthusiasm up for ourselves, to lift our own spirits. There is little time to process any of this, as we are too busy ‘doing’ and attending to our children’s needs.
It is tiring, and some days are better than others. And some days we need to listen and pay attention to what we need more than other days, I think.
There are those days when you wake up feeling positive, you can make your way steadily through that to-do list and your kids are getting on happily with their school work. Oh, those are good days!
Then there are the days when you are not feeling yourself when you get up. When the kids are having a wobble over their work, when the computer just isn’t playing ball, when you know you have a mountain of emails and work to get through and you glance round at your home and see way too many chores that need doing. Ugh, these days are tough.
The days when you can see a mountain to climb are the days when you do need to ‘refill that cup’. These are the days when you need to take care of you.
These are often the days when you are most pushed for time, though, and feeling the pressure, so there is no time for a long hot bubble bath. I get it.
I think sometimes when we think about looking after ourselves, and terms like self care and me-time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it needs to be all bubble baths, naps and treats. And really, how often do we have time for that?
So how do you lift yourself up?
Taking care of yourself on days like this should be more about a mindset shift, I think.
Remind yourself that you can’t do it all. Tell yourself that you are doing your best. Feel free to say ‘no’ whenever you need to. Accept that some things might have to give, and that’s okay. And take a breath.
Practically, cut down on that to-do list, choosing just the top priorities. Take breaks every hour or so, just for a drink, to move about, play some music loudly, whatever you need to do. Try to build in some fresh air daily, whatever the weather. Personally, I have never been more glad to have Herbie as it makes us get out each day, even on the grey days or the days that we have lots to do.
Then when you can, when you can grab a moment, do those things that lift your spirits. Go for a run, read your book, spend time on your journal, call a friend, lose yourself in a film, whatever you need.
It can be amazing how much small things like this can recharge you and power you through another day or two.
And I suppose here ends my ramble. I guess I am sharing this just to say that ‘yes, I hear you, I get it’ to all of those people who are nodding along as they read this.
It is hard, and it’s okay to tell yourself that and take a moment when you need it. And remind yourself that self care doesn’t need to be a luxury and a whole afternoon to yourself (can you imagine it?!), but just listening to your own mind and body and taking a second whenever you need to.
Take care of yourselves, I am sending solidarity vibes your way!
What are your go-to ways to lift yourself up and keep going?