Before I had children, I was pretty good at nurturing myself. I had desk drawers of art supplies to play with, scented candles to burn, and lived within a few blocks of a beautiful regional park to hike and jog through. I journaled regularly and knew the best places to sit for a while and write, often by a babbling brook. I meditated and did yoga.
Once I had kids, that all changed. I barely had time to brush my teeth or shower, let alone do anything just for my
self. The easiest and quickest gratification came from food, and with 20 lbs. later and slightly older children, I’m finding I need other ways to take care of myself. Talking to a friend recently, she asked what I did just for myself now. I take some time in bed to read before sleeping, and I entertain myself on the computer. That’s all I could think of.
Along with this, I’ve made a commitment to myself to simplify. I don’t need a lot of expensive products, I don’t need many massages or pedicures. I also love the internet, but I’m trying to use the computer more consciously and not use it as a default to distract myself. I need to find cheap, simple ways to take care of myself that will leave me refreshed instead of depleted, and I need to refer to my list before reaching for something sweet out of the cupboard.
- Sit in the backyard with nothing to do. When I worked at an elementary school (pre-motherhood), we had the summers off. I loved taking my cup of coffee out back for about 15 minutes and just watch the b irds. It was a quiet, peaceful way to start my day. Now I gulp coffee as I’m making school lunches, but instead of checking Facebook after the kids are off to school, I could sit outside for just a few minutes instead.
- Tea. If it’s too cold to sit outside, I’ll make a cup of tea (or maybe a glass of wine if it’s evening) and sit in the living room and just gaze out the window at the backyard. I’m always kind of surprised by how busy it is out there with the birds, squirrels and neighborhood cats, once I take the time to watch.
- Hot shower. We don’t have a nice big bathtub, so baths aren’t really as luxurious as I’d like them to be. But I do have some nice-smelling body wash, and afterwards I have some wonderful body butter. I take my time, really rubbing it in and while doing so, thank my body for serving me so well.
- Stretch. My boys love to help me stretch (although they sometimes need to be reminded that I am not made of rubber). It gets me on the floor with them and interacting a bit more, plus it feels good.
- Nice sheets. I wash my sheets as often as I can because I love the feel of clean sheets.
- Candles. I burn scented candles while I do housework, usually in a clean smell like fresh linen or a simple scent like vanilla. I like the warm little flame on the kitchen counter as I pass by with my arms full of laundry.
- Good music. I spent one evening putting together playlists for every mood. I’m very picky about what music I listen to at what times, so having different mood playlists is perfect for me. I also bought a small set of speakers for my iPod, so I could listen to my music in the kitchen without needed earphones and while the boys are doing something else.
- Wake up early and journal. Now, I have to admit, this one I’m not very good at. I don’t like getting up early, although I can definitely see the advantages to starting the day before the kids get up. For many mothers, though, it’s their favorite time of day.
- Soft, fluffy towels. Like the clean sheets, nice towels don’t have to cost a lot, and they’re an indulgence you’re sure to get a lot of use from.
- Pay attention to your dreams. If you can, keep a notebook next to your bed and write down your dreams first thing in the morning. You don’t need to interpret them right away, or at all, because just the act of writing them down and recording them will help the meanings become clearer. It’s a way of paying attention to yourself and your process without spending lots of time or money.
We all need to find healthy ways to nurture ourselves before we burn out. This is my list, and I hope it will inspire you to make your own. What do you remember doing for yourself before you had kids? If you had a full day to yourself, what would you do with it? Try to incorporate some of these things into your daily routine before you turn to the snacks. Your body, mind and soul will thank you.