I haven’t done 7QT in a long time, but after my post earlier this week, it occurred to me that perhaps a follow up post with some practical suggestions for self-care would be helpful. I remember when I was struggling so much, that even just basic self-care seemed like Mt. Everest. If you found yourself reading earlier in the week thinking, “Yeah, but how do I do this?” then I hope one of these tips might help!
I polled some awesome mom friends about what they do to recharge and take care of themselves. Here are seven ideas for taking care of you.
7. Wash Up!
Hands down, the number one thing women said helped them feel taken care of and refreshed was a daily shower. I know it can seem like that 10 minutes just doesn’t exist, but it does. If you have ten minutes to read this blog post, you have 10 minutes to shower. If it’s in your budget, buy some yummy smelling soap or a mask for your hair, something extra to make you feel even more relaxed while you steal your short shower.
I love, love Soapbox lavender body wash. It smells so good and relaxing, and for every body wash purchased, soap is given to someone in need in the developing world.
6. Have a Friend, Be a Friend
For the past 5 years, I’ve met once a month with a group of Catholic women locally. We call ourselves a book club, and we have read our share of books, but really, we’re friends who get together because women need friends that we see face to face and spend time with. Someone is always pregnant or has a baby, so the newborns and pre-walkers come along too. But we also respect each others time and ability to enjoy the evening by limiting children present to infants.
We meet in the evenings, but it doesn’t have to be that. Recently, we’ve had a few Saturday brunches hosted by one awesome lady who makes a mean pot of coffee.
These ladies are amazing. At the Downton Abbey birthday party they threw for me last year when I turned the big 30.
I have friends not part of the group who I make it a point to try and meet for lunch or a drink once a month or so, though of course life is busy and sometimes its longer. What’s important is reaching out and taking time, at least every once in a while, for woman friends. And since we’re all busy, we understand if some time passes without getting together.
5. Take a Break
Nearly all of the women I polled said that they have found some way to get semi-consistent breaks from their children and families to have time alone or with friends. As I type this, Maggie is at preschool and Mary Cate and Charlie are in the child watch at the YMCA.
Friends, the YMCA has saved my sanity. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend it. The membership fee is a sliding scale based on income, and all programming costs also follow the sliding scale. The child watch takes kids 6 weeks to 12 years old, and members can drop them off for up to two hours at a time. Two whole hours. Some days I workout for an hour, then sauna and shower before I get them. Other times I will do household budgeting or meal planning, or read for pleasure or write.
Our YMCA also offers Kids Night Out once a month, where children can be dropped off at the Y from 5-10 pm and parents do not have to stay on premises. They feed them dinner, swim, and play games and sports. For us, we pay 45$ to have our three children babysat for 5 hours. That’s less than 10$ an hour to watch a 4 year old and two 14 month olds. The kids have a great time and Maggie especially loves to swim. We budget for a KNO about once every 2-3 months.
In Mother’s Rule of Life, the author takes a Mother’s Sabbath where she is off for the entire day, two days per month. It’s amazing really. I had never heard of such a radical idea. But I see it now as a goal to strive toward. In her family, her husband is responsible for the kids on those Saturdays, and in turn she is responsible for them on the alternating ones.The author also participates in a babysitting exchange with a friend, where by they take turns watching each others children so that they each get a day off every other week. This could be a great way to get a few hours or day off a few times a month if there is not money in the budget for a paid babysitter. I also have friends who have set up a babysitting exchange in order to do date nights out.
4. Move Your Bod
Most of the women said that they try to do some kind of physical activity several days per week. Some use a traditional gym, some the YMCA, and some prefer to walk or run outside. A few also use videos at home when kids are napping or occupied.
I’ve done all of the above. In the warmer months, I much prefer to exercise outside, taking a walk most evenings with the family, and sometimes alone in the morning. At the YMCA, I’ve done several classes, all free, and really enjoyed them. Spinning, PiYo, Zumba, TurboKick, etc.
But my favorite form of exercise is also the easiest to do. Walking. Many remarked how hard it can be to get going, but that they usually always feel better after they start. Me too. Simple stretches can also help your body to feel more relaxed and energized.
3. Get a Job (If you want to)
A few women said that getting a part-time job helped them to feel that they were caring for themselves. These were women who had worked in the past and missed it. Those hours away from the home each week allowed them to pee alone, eat lunch, and have adult conversations, all things that can be a challenge when staying home with little ones.
I worked part-time for Weight Watchers before I had Mary Cate and Charlie, and I really enjoyed it. I worked about 10 hours per week, and made very little money, but mostly it was for the time away and the adult interaction.
Of course, if you have no interest in working outside the home, this won’t be part of your self-care. But if you feel that you miss working, perhaps putting out some feelers for part-time employment could be a way of meeting some of your self-care needs.
2. Do You Have a Hobby?
Several women mentioned having a hobby that has nothing to do with their family, but is something they enjoy just for them. Reading, crafting, sewing, baking, etc. If you have a hobby, try to find even just 30 minutes each week to do it.
If you don’t have a hobby and want one, what are you interested in? Can you get connected with others who enjoy it?
Blogging is my hobby, in case you were curious. 🙂
1. The Daily 15
Prayer is the number 1 “P’ in MROL. My personal goal in this is to pray for 15 minutes each day, attend daily Mass alone every other week, and do a holy hour each week. I am no where close to this right now, but that is my eventual goal.
About 5 days per week I pray in the morning. I use the Laudate app (its free) and do a morning offering and read the daily readings. Then I journal a little or read the Small Steps for Catholic Moms daily reading. It’s not much, but it helps me start the day off centered.
What prayer goals do you have? Start small and don’t beat yourself up or abandon them if you can’t make it happen everyday. God loves all of our attempts at holiness, no matter how small. God loves us.