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Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 in Blog, Mindset | 14 comments

Self-care: How to fit it in. Share your brilliance!

Self-care: How to fit it in. Share your brilliance!

You know you should take better care of yourself. But how do you find the time? The money? The energy?

What does “taking care of yourself” even look like? Pedicures creep you out (you’re ticklish), yoga puts you to sleep, and you’re trying to declutter — not buy more useless luxury trinkets.

Christine has done a much better job than I have of putting self-care into practice (but I started! And so can you). Not long ago, she partnered with The Motherhood to launch the #10Minutes For Me Challenge. Participants tweeted their commitment to spend 10 minutes per day on self-care using the Twitter hash tag #10Minutes.

We’re devoting an entire chapter of Minimalist Parenting to self-care. We’ve got a persuasive argument for why and plenty of suggestions for how. But we’d like to hear from you — feel free to answer any or all of the questions below. If one of your ideas is something we haven’t already covered, we may quote you in the book!

  1. What are your biggest obstacles in carving out self-care time?
  2. What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself?
  3. What are you suggestions for the best free self-care treats?
We’re loving the conversation here on the blog — thank you to all who have participated so far. Want more brilliance? Check out other “Share Your Brilliance” posts on: time management, decluttering, school and learning, occasions and holidays, food and meal planning, relationships, and money.
We’re also talking on Twitter (@MinParenting) and Facebook (Minimalist Parenting).

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  1. I have a chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis), so self-care is unusually important for me. Without enough sleep and time to myself, my body rebels and I stop being able to move. I really CAN’T parent if I don’t have me time!

    I do a couple of things to keep my joints limber and my sanity intact.

    1) My spouse takes the first shift in the mornings and I stay in bed to slowly stretch and get my limbs ready for the day. RA often results in extended periods of morning stiffness, so it can take some time to get going in the morning. Related is my insistence that I get to bed early, even if the dishes aren’t done, the floor not vacuumed, etc. Sleep is WAY more important than a clean floor.

    2) I take a shower EVERY morning. Preferably by myself.

    3) I knit, often on a break at work. I usually head to the local yarn shop for some knitting time with good friends. Knitting keeps my hands limber; the company keeps me sane.

    4) We send our toddler on overnights to his grandparents’ house. He loves it, they love it, and we get a little “us” time. Even if that “us time” means sleeping for fourteen hours!

    5) I still make “grown up” meals. We eat a wide variety of foods that are tasty and good for us. It helps that our toddler has somewhat gourmet tastes (“I dinosaur! Dinosaurs eat SALMON!”), but preparing and eating good food still feels like a self-care treat, even when you’re cleaning bits of it off the floor/your hair/your spouse’s shirt.

    • Yes! Grownup food! That’s such an important part of self-care. I remember years of feeling SO resentful that I “couldn’t” eat anything that wasn’t bland, ungarnished and/or kid-friendly. But of course I could. I was the one cooking! The conversations I’ve had with the kids about “sometimes we eat what you prefer, and sometimes we eat what Dad and I prefer” should have happened years earlier.

      Also: hobbies. Good, good, good to turn the hands on and the brain off.

  2. When my daughter was small, bedtime was difficult because if I was around, she wouldn’t settle down unless I was with her, so I would go out to the library one or two nights a week, leaving her and her father to develop their own routine. I would read and sometimes knit, often browse through magazines, or take my laptop and surf the Web. I loved the quiet, the parking is free, and my library is steps from the Uptown strip, so sometimes I would go window-shopping with a latte in hand. My girl older now and manages bedtime very well, but I still love the occasional evening at the library.

  3. 1. The biggest obstacle is my brain – it won’t shut off. Whenever I sit down with a cup of coffee to just “be”, my brain is going “wait, did I have laundry to do? Will the trim around the garage cause us to not get the refi approved?” etc. etc. etc.

    2. My favorite is to go to a nice hotel spa and get a massage. Uninterrupted by cell phone, toddler, hubby, or crazy chore brain. The place I go always has specials, and my masseuse plays relaxing new age music [or will chat with me about absolutely nothing – adult conversation is also nice].

    3. Enlist others to help you. [If you make a date with another mom to have coffee, and the hubs watches the kids, you hold each other accountable.] I also love free self-hypnosis podcasts – they help my brain stop worrying long enough for me to relax. I’ve also been known to lock myself in the bathroom.

  4. I get up early (5:15) to run or swim or hit the gym, and I take a yoga class one evening a week. Exercise is balm for my soul—if momma gets her workout in, it’ll be a much better day for everyone. :) The biggest obstacle is getting my sorry butt to bed at a decent hour so that I’m not dragging the next day!

  5. I, like Allyson above, have Rheumatoid Arthritis and have my husband take care of the kids in the morning while I take some me time in bed to wake up, read the news and stretch before getting my day started. Ialso take a weekend morning to myself to go browse consignment stores or farmer’s markets at a leisurely pace. Taking a walk, just around the block how ever many times you have the energy for, after the kids have gone to bed is also a great way to unwind, clear your head and prevent you from snacking or drinking too many glasses of wine before bedtime :)

  6. I’m so glad you wrote this post. I’m a counselor who had to learn the fine art of self care so that I wouldn’t burn out. I’m amazed at how often I teach this to my clients. I wrote a book about self care that will be published in 8 months. I also keep a blog devoted solely to this topic.

    • Congrats on your book! What’s the title? Also: please share your blog address — we’d love to check it out.

  7. If I could “like” all these comments I could. It’s inspiring to hear you making an effort for yourselves.

  8. My biggest obstacle to ‘me time’ is all the projects I want to do: Reorganize THAT closet; build a raised garden bed; bake cookies; bake bread; fix that thing that just broke; knit a sweater; weave a towel; patch my son’s pant knees since he’ll definately grow out of them this summer & they only need to last a few more weeks; help out with that PTA volunteering thing; read a magazine from the backlog pile; whittle down my deal-with-it-later-pile; repaint a kids room to be more age-appropriate; play a game with the kids; keep the sink dirty-dish free; do that nifty craft project I saw in that magazine/website with my kids; exercise; shower; weed the yard; listen to a book on tape; etc.

    My most basic ‘take-care-of-me’ step is getting to wash my face & brush my teeth first thing in the morning – it took me about 2 years after the birth of my first child to understand that need & make it happen EVERY day. The next ‘me step’ was weekly knitting time – I found the seniors knitting group at the local Y, so the kids could go to child watch for 1-2 hours, and I got adult time with yarn. Later I discovered I slept WORLDS better if I got 30 minutes or more strong cardio exercise most days.

    I also discovered that having someone else make a meal per day counts for me as ‘self care’ – so the kids & the husband are typically in charge of making breakfast.

    I think my biggest obstacle is linked to my ‘love language’ I tend to express & receive love best through acts of service – i.e. doing things for other people. Doing these loving acts for my family seems to take much more time than, say, a hug or a compliment.

  9. I dedicate 30-45 minutes after the kids go to bed to working out. It’s hard, because after a long day at work, then coming home to spend as much time as I can with the kids before they go to bed, sometimes I feel like just vegging out, but the truth was I NEED to get healthier and lose weight for my health and for my self esteem and working out is the only way I will do that!

  10. Before having children I worried how I would find time for myself, how I would be able to read, work out etc. while being a good enough parent.

    So I decided that in order to be able to do all these things I had to be careful from the start.
    Parenting styles can be so different so I had to find the one that was comfortable and doable for me. I don’t believe that it must be based on intuition alone. And that you will feel what is the right thing to do. No, you don’t always do the right thing in the heat of the moment.
    There is so much information out there how to raise happy, confident, loving children that I decided to learn the tools, the wisdom from people who had more expertise.

    #1: To become a healthy sleeper you need to learn to fall asleep on your own.
    #2: Children like to play alone, (of course supervised) but without mummy always suggesting what to do next, or how to use this etc.
    #3:Healthy eating habits require experimenting with food. Let them play with spoons, make a mess, soak the bread in their cup of tea.
    #4: Connect with your child on a daily basis for 15 min. at least. Really connect.
    #5: A regular schedule is essential.

    My son is now 1,5 years old. I put him in his crib, tell a bedtime story and leave the room. He falls asleep.
    He can amuse himself while I cook, sew or read in the room. He loves to play in the garden while I read a book or just write in my journal sitting on a chair nearby.
    Not only leaves this me with enough time to relax and have some me time but he is more balanced and happy as well.

    You can say that I’m incredible lucky to have such a child, but I know that I had to put in much effort from day one. But it was oh so worth it!

    Baby #2 will arrive in 4 weeks so I can put theory into practice again and we will see… :)

  11. One of my favorite self-care activities — reading a book, ideally a young adult fantasy novel!

  12. Energy is my biggest obstacle. Walking to notice colour in nature – is one of my biggest self-care treats.

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