Self Care – What, Why and How?

As moms, we work so hard to make everyone happy and to make life go smoothly. We often do the shopping, the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, and the driving everyone from here to there and back again. We wipe noses, bottoms, and tears.

When we go to bed, we’re so tired, but we can’t sleep because we’re thinking about everything we have to do the next day. We plan parties, playdates, real dates and holiday celebrations. But often we forget to organize time for self care.

What is Self Care? Why is it important? Tips for incorporating self care into your own life.

Self care, very simply put, is taking care of your emotional and physical needs. My daughter once asked me how our local pharmacy employees have time to sleep when the store is open 24/7.

I explained that the employees work in shifts because no one could possibly work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Except that sometimes being a mom feels like that.

Parenting is a round-the-clock job. We’re always on-call. Without taking time for ourselves, eventually our energy runs out, and we start to suffer.

Making time for yourself often feels like the last item on the priority list, but it shouldn’t be. Just like spending time with your spouse or significant other, having time for yourself is not bad or wrong or selfish. It’s necessary to recharge our batteries.

I love my family more than anything, but I need time on my own occasionally, and that doesn’t make me a bad wife or a bad mom. Self care can be as simple as reading a book or as elaborate as a weekend away from home.

Here are some of the ways that I take care of my own needs.

Time With Friends

Whether it’s meeting for breakfast on a Saturday or dessert on a weeknight, I try to meet up with my girlfriends on a fairly regular basis. I crave that time where I can laugh and talk with friends.

It’s important to have times of undistracted conversation, especially if you’re at home with kids full-time. Yes, a playdate for the kids can be a fun time to chat with another mom, but we all know there’s no such thing as a distraction-free conversation when the kids are around.

Bible Study and Book club

I meet with a group of women every other week for Bible study and once a month for a book club, and both are so renewing. We have good conversation and I learn so much. I’ve developed some good friendships too.

If you aren’t interested in a faith-based group, a book club, a cooking class or a yoga class are all great options. The idea is simply a regularly-scheduled purposeful group.

TIME ALONE

For those of us with an introverted side, time spent alone is essential. As much as I love to be with my friends and family, I also need time on my own to fully recharge.

Sometimes I’ll go to the bookstore and browse the shelves. Occasionally I go to a movie alone. I spend a lot of time around other people and sometimes I just need a break from interacting with others.

Weekend away

Each year my three closest girlfriends and I make it a point to have a weekend away together. The kids stay at home with their dads, and we have a weekend of undistracted conversation and fun.

We try to make it a pretty inexpensive trip and just enjoy a lot of “chick chat,” as my husband would say. Having a few days off from all my responsibilities as a wife and mom helps me recharge and regroup. I come back rested, happier and more than ready to be back at home with my family.

My husband and I also try to get at least one full day and night away from home each year. We need that concentrated time to connect apart from navigating the busyness of daily life as a family.

I’m very fortunate to have a husband who makes it possible for me to spend time with my girlfriends or on my own to refuel my tank. I make sure that he gets time with his friends too.

We spend plenty of time as a family and as a couple, but we both understand the importance of being off-duty. If you don’t have a partner that can give you these breaks, consider asking a family member, hiring a sitter, or trading off with another mom.

Just don’t neglect yourself because you think it’s not important!

How do you make time for yourself??

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The 21 Day Fix

I’m not really the type to jump on board with fitness fads. If I’m really being honest, I’m not really one for fitness at all, but that’s something I’m working on. We all have friend who are quick to test out the latest fitness craze, be it the Barre method, PiYo, boot camp workouts, or some sort of Richard Simmons revival of Sweatin’ to the Oldies (I made that last one up but you know it’s out there somewhere).

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You probably also know someone that’s tried many of the popular diets floating around – Weight Watchers, juicing, Atkins, South Beach. There’s so much out there to choose from and most have their merits in some form or another. The problem that I’ve run into with a few of these fad diets is that they tend to be extremely restrictive and that makes them difficult to adhere to for the length of time needed for them to make any impact.

Let’s just be real here for a minute. Me and bread are friends for life. BFFs. So I’m not likely to succeed with a diet that excludes ALL carbs or ALL dairy or even ALL fruit. It isn’t fun but more importantly it doesn’t feel normal or healthy. In my humble opinion, we should be focusing less on diets and more on nutrition. The issue for many of us, myself included, is that we’ve lost sight of what balanced nutrition entails.

My good friend CK is one of those people that gets genuinely excited about trying new forms of exercise. She’s a certified yoga instructor and teaches these insane classes that combine hot yoga and weights. I took one of her classes and had to resist the urge to barf halfway through. At one point she came over to check on me and I softly whispered “I hate you.” But despite the fact that my legs were so tired and sore that I wanted to cry, it felt good to work so hard and I was inspired by her commitment. So when CK discovered a new opportunity to not only improve her own health, but to encourage others as well, I (eventually) jumped on board. Enter the 21 Day Fix.

21DayFix

What is the 21 day fix?

The 21 Day Fix is a combo of exercise and nutrition with an emphasis on portion control and clean eating. Instead of eliminating one whole food group, the idea is to use all those handy dandy colorful containers to measure out food based on your particular calorie needs. Processed foods, sugary foods and refined flours are excluded for their lack of nutritional benefit. So you can still eat pasta, but you’re eating whole grain pasta and probably less than you normally would. You also drink a superfood shake once  a day to replace a meal/snack and the shake is surprisingly good.

Along with the nutrition plan, there’s a 30 minute workout for each day of the week. The chick flashing her six pack all over the packaging is Autumn. Autumn and I have a love/hate relationship. I will say that unlike a lot of overly perky fitness instructors, she completely owns the fact that she’s kicking your ass (assuming you’re not just sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching the dvd for kicks). She’s motivational without being super annoying because do we really need to pretend that we’re all having the best time of our lives as we sweat like a stampeding wildebeest? I don’t think so.

Is it worth it?

So after one week following the 21 Day Fix here’s my official assessment: I’m into it. The workouts are hard, but short, and I can do them in the privacy of my own home at my convenience. Portioning out food adds some extra time into my day but less as I get the hang of the process. For example, I don’t have to use the green container to measure out lettuce for a salad every single time because I now know how full my bowl looks after I dump it in. Plus it’s lettuce so I feel pretty safe going rogue.

In case you’re confused, the goal is NOT that you’ll have your ideal body at the end of 21 days. The theory is that it takes three weeks to break a bad habit OR to form a good one, so if you stick to the plan for all 21 days, you’ll be that much closer to your goals because you’ll have changed some habits along the way. It’s simple but not easy because like I said, the point is to change and true change is never easy. I’ve been sore more days than not over the past week but it’s a good sore, a rewarding pain that reminds me that I worked hard.

I’m not posting any status reports until the 21 days are over so stay tuned! If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, leave me a comment or message me on FB and I’ll hook you up with CK, my super awesome, motivational and inspirational coach!

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