Self Care – Its not just about spa days

What are you doing for self-care? The question that gets a variety of responses from laughter, to blank stares, to all out tears followed by a response of nothing, I don’t have any time for that. Listen, I get it. We all don’t have the same amount of free time, the same types of support systems, the same childcare options that can make the concept of self-care more accessible. But what if I tell you it’s less about what you do and more about how you think about it?

Self-care tasks are different for everyone but the feeling is the same – something that you do only for you with the goal of nurturing, relaxation, or enjoyment. It can be something that you spend a lot of time on or something that you spend a little time on. They can be daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly tasks that are completed solely to make you feel good.

They are unique to everyone and everyone has very different needs when it comes to self-care and what feels good. As our lives change, get busier, and/or our families grow we have to be flexible with our ideas of self-care as well as creative about how we accomplish them.

I’ll explain. Before babies I had a fabulous morning routine. I worked mid day hours, from 11-7p, so my mornings were slow which was just what I liked. I am not a morning person. Growing up, conversations in the morning on my end consisted of grunts and head nods – which must’ve been super annoying for my parents. As I grew older and moved out, I remained a grouchy morning person.

Before children, I would wake up around 8a, go for a run outside at my favorite spot, mosey on back home, have a cup of coffee, eat some breakfast, get ready for work, and arrive 10 minutes late ( I am typically late everywhere – I read once that is a sign of being an optimistic person). This was the “feel good” morning routine.

Sleep, Run, Coffee. My three favorite things. Sometimes I would even hit up a yoga class if my schedule allowed it. Ahhhh the good ol days.

A typical morning for me these days looks something like this. A baby starts crying anywhere between 530a -6p because she is mad that she’s awake and needs her pacifier – I hear you sister. Either my husband or myself stumble into said child’s room, root around for a paci in the dark, which could be just about anywhere in the crib or in the vicinity of the crib, then stumble back to our room. I then try to catch some more sleep until a four year old comes pitter pattering into my room anywhere between 630p-7p. I need to ask her for a couple minutes because I really am the same morning person that I was back in 2003, communicating in grunts and nods, and I realize that doesn’t work for a four year old. She usually obliges but sometimes we fight about it.

We make our way downstairs with the baby in tow, and from there on out its pandemonium. Making coffee, getting breakfast, depending on the day I am getting ready for work, getting kids dressed, getting lunches together. Long gone are the days where I could hang at the table sipping my coffee – these days coffee is shoved into an insulated mug and we are out the door.

A bit different don’t you think? And this is just one picture of the way that day structures have changed as well as opportunities for self-care.

I have learned that balancing time always requires sacrifices. I can’t do it all. If I want to run in the morning then I have to drop the kids off at daycare and preschool earlier.

Sometimes I feel bad about it. It could be time I am spending with my kids and as a working parent I definitely want that. But really, I am a beast without exercise and it’s good for everyone if I do. But mostly, it’s good for me. I like who I am when I work out. I like how I feel. And all of this, of course, makes me easier to be around for my family.

Self-care, for me, means going to bed an hour early to be able to read and not falling asleep instantly. It means doing a face mask once a week. Its getting my hair done here and there. Its eating pizza and drinking a beer on a day where I feel drained. Its blasting the music in my car and singing at the top of my lungs. Its texting a friend. Its writing. Its sitting on the couch and scrolling through social media. It’s the beach in the summer. It’s cleaning the house in peace. It’s doing anything in peace for that matter. It’s eating eggs and avocados on toast and reaaaally enjoying it – not just shoving it down my throat before I am on to the next thing. It’s running. It’s yoga. It’s hugs.

It’s a lot of things. Big and small.

But they are all done intentionally. When I am doing them I really try to be present and acknowledge that I am doing the thing just because it feels good and because I want to. It’s not meditative in it’s intentions, it’s more like a one thought acknowledgement followed by “hm, this is nice”.

It’s taking some of the little things that I didn’t think of as self-care before (like singing in the car) and labeling them as such. It makes me feel more grateful. It makes me feel positive. It helps me to feel cared for. Would I love a morning at the spa? Hell yea. But it’s just not feasible with any frequency.

When I do get the chance to run at my favorite spot, at my favorite time of day, during the best weather of the year…let me tell you, I am grateful in a way that I didn’t know I could be before my life got busier.

So tell me, what are you doing for self-care these days? 🙂

Photo by alan caishan on Unsplash

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