I hear terms like self-care, me-time, self-love, mom-cation, and all the fun synonyms often. Sometimes I scroll and see them every other post. In normal circumstances it can be difficult for the main caregiver to allow a break for themselves. But caregivers are always doing just that, giving. Giving time, giving an ear, giving a hug, giving a plate of food, giving a clean home, giving a bath to a child, giving a walk to the dog. Giving, giving, giving. But so often the caregiver doesn’t take time to give to themselves. We reason we’re busy, the kids need new shoes, we must be present for the family all waking hours. So it’s almost like we are programmed that anything with the word self or me in the title is selfish and shameful. And honestly, I don’t know why. My hubby has never demanded these things of me, it’s like some weird pre-programmed woman brain thing.
I’ve heard the cliche, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” more times that I can count on both hands just in the last week. But even with the wave of empowerment being thrown around, so many caregivers still don’t take time to refill their cup. We then get rundown, angry, resentful, tired, develop depression and anxiety, or are just numb to everything. I myself have been known to overschedule and stay busy from the time my feet hit the floor until my hubby is literally shutting my laptop on my hands telling me to go to bed. It took some time and a few panic attacks but I finally realized it’s ok to just be. Not be busy, but just be.
Now, needing a few minutes is not the same as wanting to abandon all responsibilites. And I can’t speak for other moms, but I have never looked at either of my children or said audibly enough for them to hear that mommy needs a break. I think that judgy folks who read women venting on social media about needing a break assuming their kids know is just rude. The reason moms turn to social media to vent is because the vast majority of their kids aren’t on social media and in some cases not old enough to read so it’s their way of getting out the frustration so that they DON’T tell their kids they need a break. We are all “trapped” or “lucky enough to be safely home” right now, regardless of how you want to put it. Whether you are “safe at home” or an essential worker, it’s safe to say most people are feeling more stress than normal right now with the pandemic and we should not be throwing shame at eachother.
So, to help you learn to preserve your sanity, here are a few tips to help you unwind that won’t take your whole day but still let you feel like you had a little break and can refresh and recharge and maybe help you deal with the stress just a tad better:
Have an at-home mini pedi! I love my foot spa. Here is an inexpensive one I found online and I am not getting paid on this, just helping you find a nice one that won’t break the bank! It’s easy to setup and is super relaxing. I can have a glass of wine or read a book while my feet soak! The soak alone is very relaxing. I love my water super hot and I add epsom salts for a little razzle dazzle! I love keeping paint on my toes and I love the gel finish polish for a nice look without all the work of gel. For a quick at-home pedi I don’t bust out all the tools but will finish with a nice foot cream.
Face masks are the jam. Some stay on longer than others and some peel off while others rinse off. There are oodles and oodles of masks but I am sure to use ones that are suited for my skin type and serve a purpose. It makes me feel less guilty about my “me-time.” Again, I totally know we shouldn’t feel guilty so don’t get your panties in a bunch, it’s a joke. But with skincare you do want to be sure the products work for you and make you feel good all at the same time! Two of my favs are the Warming Vit C Peel, which doesn’t stay on long but feels so dang good and leaves my skin so soft and glowly, and the Charcoal Mask Stick, which does stay on while drying, has a pleasant smell, and leaves my skin fresh, clean, and smooth!
Read a book! If you have been wanting a new read, you can download books to your device with the Kindle App, and the books are very inexpensive or sometimes free! You can also order books for home delivery and Amazon offers pretty fast shipping. I read for business a lot, so when I want to unwind I go for trashy romance or love stories! Nothing too serious for me when I want to rest to my brain, but it’s completely up to you! Some folks enjoy personal development books in their free time and that is a great way to use your special time to grow. Just make sure it’s one you want to read and find a cozy spot that can provide enough light so you don’t strain your eyes and has little to no noise! If you need to lay the kids down a little early (or persuade the hubby to handle it one night) that is totally ok! If the kids are older, tell them you’re going to read and would like a little quiet time and head to your room and close the door! Or better yet, tell the whole family it’s reading time and have everyone read a book of their choice!
Journal! This is an odd time for everyone and we all process things differently. Sometimes getting feelings out onto paper is very freeing. You don’t need a fancy journal, just any paper or notebook will do, but if you want to get a journal you can find all sorts of pretty ones online! If nothing else, you can type a journal on a word document on the computer! It’s all up to you!
Get enough sleep! This can be hard if you have little kids, but now may be the best time to implement a sleep schedule for them if you haven’t already so you can get the rest you need. That in itself is work, but it is so worth it and often takes just days if you really stick to your plan. If you have no kids at home or they are older, don’t feel bad about laying down early or even having a nap if the mood strikes you.
Take a long hot shower or a bubble bath! I am not a bath person, but I love a ridiculousy long steamy shower with lots of smelly goods. I’m talking nice body wash, exfoliation, hair mask, and I even find shaving nice because then I used good lotionafter and love my smooth legs in my jammies!
Move your body! I know exercise sounds like work, but if you can get your body moving for half an hour a day it really helps! Exercise releases endorphines which make you feel good! You know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to work out but make yourself go and afterwards you feel GREAT! You can walk outside, do a little cardio circuit in your living room, learn or practice some yoga which can be found online, or look up whatever type of exercise sounds fun to you on apps or YouTube so you can follow along. I love to do “power yoga” because it moves faster but is still a lot of stretching, low impact, and no tools are needed.
Call a friend. Yes, I said the four letter would C-A-L-L. We are so used to text and messages but we also are not used to being isolated all the time. Even if it seems scary, it will feel great to catch up with a friend and may do you AND them a lot of good!
There are tons more ways to take just a few minutes to step away from stress and give yourself a little boost but I hope you’ll give one or two of these a try this week. Even if all you did all day was keep your tiny humans alive, you still deserve a time-out. Growing a new garden, remodeling your house, and cooking a four-course dinner also warrant a break and huge love button on FB, but don’t assume you don’t deserve a mental health break because you didn’t master that common core math problem on your kids digital learning assignment. Everyone’s normal is different, so you can only worry about you and what is best for your family. And again, you can’t pour from an empty cup. We cannot properly care for others if we have not properly cared for ourselves. We go above and beyond for everyone else, so why do you deserve any less?