So Many Choices, So Little Time …For Self-Care

"Sophia Western", engraving after Bu...

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Self-Care Tip #198 – Being a friend to yourself might be saying,

No.

Our culture is brimming.  Brimming with…, well take your pick; walking the dogs, turning in a take-home test, watching The King’s Speech, writing a journal entry, making pancakes or reading Savvy – we have options.

However, today and often, options are stalkers we think difficult to restrain.  …More difficult, say than filing a restraining order against your husband.

Walter filed for divorce with his unhappy wife.  Vengefully, his wife turned around and filed a restraining order on him and just like that, he was unable to see his kid for over two months.  That was easy.  All she had to do was file it.

And when we have these many options, all we need to do is say, “Yes,” to one and to the rest,

No.

I love it when my four year-old son is rocking carelessly on my outstretched legs, flopping about, a happy-drunk bird-on-a-wire, and predictably although unintentionally falls.  Crumpled on the floor, he flicks his bangs back and says rather coolly,

I was okay, Mommy.  I was okaaaay.

I had tried to rest on the couch and type, doing my self-care thing after doing Mommy-stuff with the kids for a large chunk of the day.  But telling him to stop doing that really cute thing he does was not so easy.

According to The Economic and Social Research Council,

Having older siblings is not related to children’s happiness with their family, but having younger siblings in the household is associated with lower levels of satisfaction and this effect is greater the more younger siblings present in the household.

It turns out that children feel more happiness in their homes when there are fewer younger children.  They perceive that there is less energy available for them from their parents with each born child.  And I’m here to say, there is.  With my son on the floor, flicking his hair and going,

I was okaaay…,

my middle daughter kissing my shoulder and burrowing into my arm like an ear-wig, my eldest daughter came back to ask for the sixth time if I would play jump rope with her – I remembered this study.  So true.  I don’t need more options, i.e. more children who ask and I say,

No.

With these many wonderful options, choosing Me, is not always easy.  (See post, “‘You’ Are the Best Gift.”)

Now throw in a little inappropriate guilt, some ruminating thoughts, self-loathing, bad sleep, some low motivation and energy and choosing Me becomes the hardest thing anyone has come up against.

Questions: How do you choose you when you could pick so many other great options?  How has this helped quality of life for you and others in your life?  Please tell me your story.

21 thoughts on “So Many Choices, So Little Time …For Self-Care

  1. Very poignant post.
    I once heard someone explain that love for your child is like a lit candle and when you have another child you just spread/share the flame with the new candle and that the light (the love) gets brighter all around. I think this story is quite off, because even though the parent may feel more love then ever… the children don’t necessarily. Love means presence and presence is built in minutes. And unfortunately, those are limited.
    But regarding the number of children issue. I think children with lots of siblings are happier across the lifespan (of course, this is only in healthy families).

    • i luv the word “poignant.” always enjoy when i can slip it in somewhere. feels like bouncing smartly. thank u jo for commenting here. u bring up an important consideration i didn’t hear addressed in the research nor in my post – perceived pleasure of sib-to-sib. will keep my eyes and thoughts open on that. keep on.

  2. Re: “Walter” When my daughter was 1 1/2 (after a divorce a year earlier) I was served with child molestation papers. Separated for over a year and exonerated. Then after one evening of visitation I was again served the next morning. This time over a year separation. They even had C on tape doing sexual things with anatomy of boy anatomical doll. Exonerated again. I call the effort “psychological infanticide” I could have lost my job in public sector as teacher and sentenced to life here in Florida. Divorce lawyers assist the insanely vindictive wife because the protracted litigation promotes continued fees which the father pays and pays for his defense as well. I paid 10% of my net salary for 6 years to lawyers. Ironically , 10 years later I was granted custody of her and her brother as mother declared unfit. They are 26 and 29 now and always gravitate toward me and understand their mother for the very ill person she is. It is a horrible thing to do do to children. They both struggle with substance abuse to this day. Certainly the trauma and their early environment contributed to addiction propensity.

      • Your are an insightful analyzer. “largely on the other side” recognizes that the anger, resentment, and inability to forgive still persists. Is this revealed in my tone? I thought it was fairly objective. In any event such an understanding of my thinking on the matter is accurately described above. On the other hand I have been able to construct two positive attitudes: I do not obsess and I do not seek revenge.

  3. It’s difficult when you can say no, you do say no, and you are consistently unhappy about that. Saying no does not necessarily diminish the expectations we have of ourselves.

    • that is difficult carl. and in that context, u r right. it doesn’t necessarily diminish the expectations. well said and great elucidation on this topic.
      i’m wondering if u’d expound a little more for us. can u tell us more about that context?

      • When I have enough guts to say no which is more often lately, I remain conscious of what I am not doing for this person or that person. If I have any time that is relaxing, I feel as though it was lazy to say no. I need down time, but I think the world says I don’t deserve down time. Telling children no is so difficult, but I suppose we have to teach them gently regardless of how many siblings they have.

  4. I was the youngest of five. The age gap btwn. me & the eldest was 9 years. I always viewed the two eldest as ‘adults,’ even when they were only teens. Their resentment of me & the other two ‘little ones’ was voiced repeatedly. I can remember being very young & thinking it odd that such grown-up people were angry that “mom” gave us so much attention. Now I have two newly minted teens & can imagine what my older brothers must have felt.

  5. Until I had a breakdown, I tried to put 100% of whoever I was into whatever I was doing – 100% for the kids, 100% for each volunteer project, 100% for church, 100% for my mother-in-law, 100%……And then I started working – trying to put into it 100% of my energies, and continuing to do everything else, of course. I was tired and not sleeping and unhappy and frustrated and terrified that if I backed off of anything I was doing someone would hate me…and some, like my mother-in-law, actually would!…and then one day at work I had an attack of what turned out to be indigestion that was so painful that I immediately called the doctor and was asked to come in right away. All the way there, I prayed, but what I was praying for made me tear up as I am typing this. I prayed that the pain would be a heart attack!! If it was a heart attack, then I’d be told I couldn’t be all of the things I was being; I couldn’t do all of the things I was doing; I’d have an excuse to say “no”, and everyone would understand. How stupid. How pathetic. How scary, now that I think about it.

    But it wasn’t a heart attack. I kept doing all those things. And then I had an emotional (nervous?!!?) breakdown, and everything I was doing came to an abrupt and almost permanent screeching halt. All I could do was watch – from far off away from me – as people filled me with meds, did talk therapy and art therapy and group therapy, put me in and out of hospitals. And then I learned how to take what was being done to me and slowly begin to take care of myself.

    Taking care of me WAS the most difficult thing I had ever come up against. You’re right, Sana. It still is. It probably always will be. But now that I’m getting better, I’m happier; my family is happier; I’m more careful about how much of me I put into things. It’s an up-hill battle, but I’m finally learning to be much more aware of ME in my life, and that has made all the difference.

  6. “They perceive that there is less energy available for them from their parents with each born child. And I’m here to say, there is.”

    Agreed. It is a fact of life. The energy has to be divided… I am not sure it is a bad thing, though, for children to understand that. Older or younger, all siblings have the rich chance to learn quickly that the world is not just theirs alone, that they have to share, self-soothe, learn to entertain themselves. Good lessons, I think…

  7. This is why I don’t want anymore children. My husband wants 4 kids. We already have 2, and getting time to work without feeling guilty is hard enough. I sometimes think I want another baby, but it’s only the good stuff I miss – relaxing on the couch quietly while a baby nurses on me, or the bonding between my husband and I over my enlarging belly. But the rest of it isn’t something I want, and I know it would all feel burdensome to me.

    It’s time to tell my husband I’m done having kids. It’s too much work, and I can’t keep up with everything we have going on right now.

  8. i have so many choices so many options myslef i useually fail at the first hurrdlle and look after someone else and i never look after myself may is just round the corner bit questions i have got threw the last few mounths and the last few weeks with my head wanting to so mutch self destruct i had a brake down on saturday and i ended up crying choices to most people are so simple emotion is not involved and the thought process is quite simple waying a deccison wether its right or wrong with me its more like question time so hard think about it i think when it comes down to it you have to chose what is right for you and not get emotionally invollved you have to choose what is better for you and your head at the moment i chose myslef and my time

  9. I always put my children first and there was seldom any “me” time…I have no regrets. They grew up all too quickly and don’t need me much anymore. I now have more “me” time than I thought I’d ever have or need. I enjoyed “their” time and now that I’ve adjusted to not being “needed”, I am enjoying “me”…and best of all the hubby and I are enjoying “us”.

    • ah. bliss. u have it and had it good in this regard dear u. i celebrate your past and your current flow. it doesn’t negate the pain i know that has been and is included in your life but yet here you are, celebrating w us. blessings.

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