The following post is written by my friend, Jessica Wells (see bio below), and this is the 3rd post in a series on self-care.
Jump on in to the comments below. We have been having some great conversation on these posts and on Facebook!
6 Ways to Self-Care
In the last post, I briefly mentioned some ways that I practice self-care. This week, I’d like to share with you the 6 ways I practice self-care on a regular basis. Some of them are small things and some require a little bit of planning. Remember that small things add up, and they can be a good place to start.
1. Communicate with your spouse
Communicating with your spouse may sound like a strange way to practice self-care, but I assure you it is important. Your husband needs to know what you need, and you have to verbally tell him. This is your life together, and you need to be able to rely on each other and help one another. This is not you “asking for permission.” You are not a five year old, you are a grown up! This is you taking ownership of your needs and communicating them in a way that your husband can hear and accept. Having your husband on board definitely makes the self-care process easier.
2. Bed-time routine
A new day actually starts the night before. How well I rest the night before definitely impacts my morning and day. Aiming to go to bed at the same time every night is crucial for the health of our mind and body. I try to be in bed by 9:30 PM every night with the lights out by 10:00. My routine can consist of:
- A hot shower or warm bath
- Relaxation Yoga and breathing (YouTube has some good videos for this)
- Using essential oils like lavender or chamomile (FYI a little goes a long way)
- Making cup of bed-time tea (anything herbal is good)
- Reading a good non-stressful book
- Listening to calming music
3. Morning routine
We often think we have to hit the ground running. And while little people are often full of early morning energy we can choose how we “do” the morning routine.
If your husband is home in the morning, ask him to help with at least one or two things, whether it is breakfast or diapers. My husband gives me an extra 20-30 minutes to sleep in when I need it.
As soon as the kids are somewhat situated I do the following:
- Wash my face (it wakes me up) and apply essential oil, peppermint or eucalyptus are good.
- Take 3 deep breaths.
- Make or pour my cup of coffee (sometimes this must happen BEFORE anything else)!
- Make breakfast for myself. I know the mornings can be nuts but you need breakfast too. The extra two minutes it takes to put toast in the toaster or grab your yogurt is worth it. Make it a priority to sit down while you eat. We make our kids sit at the table so we should do it too!
4. Go to the bathroom ALONE
I can’t stress this one enough. Your children don’t need to accompany you to the bathroom when you are home. This is great way to teach them privacy! My kids still sometimes cry outside the door or stick their fingers under it, but I don’t budge on this one. I lock the door, every time. They will be just fine for 2 minutes without me! Going to the bathroom alone is one way that I can claim time for myself. I also have really great smelling hand soap and lotion — an added bonus!
5. Nap or Rest time
Everyone needs a break. My husband gets an entire lunch hour to himself, with bathroom breaks whenever he wants them, and he works with grown-ups! We need to establish that, too.
If your children still nap, great. If they will play quietly in their room during nap time, that is wonderful. If they do neither, try to start scheduling in an hour or two of quiet time.
This can be hard at first and may take a few days, but it is worth trying. Use whatever tactics necessary. Maybe they read or play with certain toys only at rest-time. I have a friend who busts out the iPad for her son just at rest time. I say do whatever works!
Please put the laundry aside. This time is for you. Take a nap, watch a movie, get into a good book, do that Yoga video, lay on a blanket in your back yard, paint your nails, or take an extra long shower. If all attempts at nap or rest fail (and it will, just happened to me yesterday), take a deep breath and try again tomorrow. I try to always remember to be thankful for every break I get, to soak it up and enjoy it and never take it for granted.
6. Get Out
I remember one evening when my youngest was just a couple months old, I was at my wit’s end! For some reason both boys were super cranky all day and I was desperate for a break. As soon as my husband came home I handed him the baby, grabbed my purse and said over my shoulder “I’ll be back later, I have to go!”
I think I went to Starbucks and then proceeded to wander around Target for an hour. It was totally what I needed. I don’t recommend running out of the house like a crazy person (although that happens from time to time), instead try to plan time away. Even an hour at a time makes a huge difference. Maybe it is Saturday morning when your husband is home or one night a week that is yours. If you can afford it, hire a babysitter to come for one afternoon a week so you can have a break. If we don’t schedule time away it almost always won’t happen.
Questions for You:
- What do you do to practice self-care?
- What would you like to do that you are not doing now? What is keeping you from engaging in that activity?
- Which of these 6 suggestions resonates most with you? Which is most difficult for you to put in place?
- What is on small step you can do to build self-care into your normal routine?
Jessica Wells holds a B.A in Theology from Moody Bible Institute and a M.A in Counseling Ministries from Denver Seminary. She works part-time as a coordinator for Young Lives, a branch of Young Life, that ministers to pregnant teens and teen moms.
Jessica and her husband Mark live in Colorado Springs with their two children Benjamin and Asher.
More Posts in the Series
- Self-Care for Moms
- Are you Caring for Yourself in the Midst of Motherhood?
- Taking Care of Mom: Is Peace and Quiet Really Possible?
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