Am I hearing you right?
I was at a networking event recently where I was called out as the only mompreneur in the room (which is a mom-entrepreneur) and when they heard why I advocate for self-care, they snickered.
Then it came. “It’s so selfish for moms to put themselves first. They should know their kids should always come first!” Or, “They’ll have time when their kids are gone to indulge themselves, right now they should focus on their family.”
I looked around. Am I hearing this right? I politely offered the old adage that in an emergency on a flight, you put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others, and I walked away.
I thought it about it for a few days, and I realize I have a lot more to say about this topic than I did in that moment.
To me, self-care means making intentional and deliberate choices to create a thriving life.
This definition truly encompasses my every breath. Am I choosing nutritious food to eat? Am I setting limits in my volunteer and work commitments? Am I both moving my body and resting my body enough? Have I dedicated time for creative expression and human connection? Do I forgive? Do I reflect? Do I monitor my energy and refill myself as needed by walking in nature, meditating, making plans to travel, reconnect with people I love?
Self-care could mean a long shower for one woman and a spa retreat for someone else. Or for one woman, it could mean having time every day to read a book with a cup of tea, while for another she would choose to train for a marathon or knit a sweater while listening to jazz music. Every decision has a self-care component, whether it is recognized it or not.
I have a big deadline so I need to skip lunch again to get it done.
I have to help at my son’s preschool so I will skip my walk with my neighbor this week.
I should be going to the doctor for this weird thing I need checked out, but I’ll make time next week. I need to get my dog to the vet today.
Sometimes we decide to choose the self-care option, sometimes we don’t, and that is ok! This is just a chance to check in with yourself. Are you balanced in how often you invest in yourself versus how often you withdraw from yourself? If you are constantly and consistently choosing not to invest in the health of your mind, body, and spirit, study after study has shown that you will deplete yourself and could find yourself in The House of Health Horrors (what I affectionately call the place where we land when we burn our candle at both ends!)
I hear you! Self-care can sound a little woo-woo, so let’s break it down.
To practice self-care, we must consider the two parts: identification and practice.
The first thing every woman should do is identify the ways she wants to recharge. This is very personal and self-reflective and it is different for every woman. We can’t just Google ‘self-care practice’ and do the top tip hoping for the best!
Self-care must feed our soul and replenish our energy. If it doesn’t do that then it’s just another task.
After we have discovered what we need to recharge, we must choose to find a way to make that happen, the practice piece. It might feel like you are moving a mountain, but just focus on one stone at a time!
Perhaps for one woman, the best self-care would be to dance, but she doesn’t have the money to pay for expensive classes. That isn’t the end of the road for her though! She can find lessons on YouTube or maybe take classes at a local community center.
Another woman dreams of writing poetry to deal with the loss of her mother many years before, but she doesn’t have the time with her busy life. She could decide to wake up thirty minutes earlier one day a week and write, or download a recording app and speak her poetry, and then write it out another time, or she could decide that since her kids are old enough to read, color or draw pictures, they would sit together for 15 minutes and create art together, poetry or pictures.