It doesn’t take as much work as publicized to take care of our children. I’m not saying it’s not hard, here as I put my throbbing feet up on my coffee table and write. However, I will say that the real work, the difficult work, the work that isn’t in the headlines, is a woman’s work. Taking care of ourselves. It is hard. Taking care of our children is natural, instinctual, congruent with our inner selves. Taking care of our children is on our minds before anything else, without trying. However, taking care of “Me” is not. You want to see a woman sweat? Watch her try to peel away the guilt when she’s writing a blog instead of reading to her kids ;). Wedging time in for yourself, seeking out to know yourself, teasing apart your thoughts to find your voice and then acting on what you discover – that is hard work.
Then why do we spend so much time talking about how hard it is to care for our kids? Hmm. Because talking about ourselves doesn’t interest anyone. Talking about that isn’t applauded. In fact, we feel ashamed of it. When we stop fighting for this though, stop working until we sweat, when we stop pressing in to the heart of this most difficult challenge, than we stop growing. The shame that hides us drifts over and touches the very ones we are sacrificing for. How we see ourselves eventually is how they see us too. In the end, will we even understand why?
What would happen however if we did our most difficult job? Wow! The idea is huge. Everyone wins I think. It may not be so apparent and it may not be as celebrated as Mother’s Day. But we do. Our kids do. Our partners, our families, our communities, and on. It starts right here with “Me.”
Self Care Tip #7 – Work a woman’s work. Be a friend to yourself.
There are many traps that slow and trip us in life. Traps that shut us down. Yesterday I spoke about the neurological grooves and the role our choice has in making new grooves.
Behavioral changes are important, like putting up a road block in the path your thoughts usually travel. Knowing that my kids will tell me to put a dollar in the family jar if I yell (a road block), helps me pause long enough before I fall into that neurological loop and I’m blazing a new trail in my brain. Every time I cover that new path, success is more likely the next time. I know I’ll continue to be stressed. Life won’t stop. But, I have more hope that I won’t yell as a way to cope.
Saying that our behaviors are more than just results of our own choices is advanced for our culture, for the opinion of socialites. Knowing that our behaviors are the children of both neurological loops as well as the spirit of choice. Think about the many times in church when you’ve been preached at to turn from your ways, as if you were choosing them in the 1st place. The spirit of choice is the majority of what people talk about in any forum. And we agree, it is important. However, we don’t agree entirely. We now know about neurological loops and understand that the spirit of choice isn’t what’s behind everything other people see. Could there also be more? Yes!
In time, we’ll uncover other influences on the spectrum of behaviors. There are more. There are other paradigms that make us into our personalities. What would social opinion say of that? What does your own critical self say? When getting friendly with yourself, remember, things are never as bad as they seem, even you. As we tease apart the different influences on where our behaviors come from we’ll learn more of the mechanics on what to do with what we find.
Self Care Tip #6: Hold judgement. Be a friend to Yourself!
I was speaking with a friend, mother of 3, including a new baby of 3 months. Any on-looker could say she had it all. However, she wasn’t feeling happy. Looker’s on could also guess just as well some of the reasons why. Especially those of us who’ve raised infants. It’s called sleep. Sleep, the elixir of good living. Without it, color fades. Sounds and voices take on an edge like the underside of a long fingernail. Our thoughts swim about in a mire. Finding words is confusing and speaking them reduces us to… to what? Well you’ve been there where my friend found herself struggling to say why she wanted to cry and beat her children. Just to hear her is enough to make your milk let down.
Hearing someone say get sleep is uncomfortable. It brings up all the cultural reasons why we don’t get sleep, the emotional reasons, the relationship reasons, and the reasons around discipline. Well, whatever it makes you feel or think, it comes down to biology. You won’t feel good and be healthy emotionally and be able to do things you want to do for others if your body and brain isn’t getting restored at night. So losing sleep may feel like a sacrifice you’re doing for your new baby or husband who wants to stay up and watch movies together, and it may. However it is also other things. Losing sleep is taking yourself away from them tomorrow. It takes from your own journey, disconnects you from your own self. Losing sleep is a biological cascade that leads to deteriorating goals, including your ability to give well.
There is sacrifice also in letting your child cry for 5 more minutes before going to him at night. There is sacrifice in going to sleep instead of staying up to play with someone you love. Don’t be fooled in to thinking that you’re getting your child from her crib when she cries for 30 seconds for her sake. Don’t be fooled into a mother’s martyrdom. Babies are also healthier when allowed to self soothe. Babies are healthier when they learn to put themselves to sleep if they awaken at night. To get good sleep, look past the guilt, look past the immediate pleasure, look past the distraction, look past and see yourself as you will be tomorrow. Let that be the sacrifice in your life. A healthy mom, a healthy wife, and healthy individual for those you love. Sleep for your own valuable self. You have a chance to live well.
Self Care Tip #3: Get sleep for any reason that makes sense to you, but sleep. Be a friend to yourself.