I’ve been busy with births over the last week and it’s made me refocus on how I’m doing at self-care. Self-care is something January Harshe (my #wcw on insta this week) is big on teaching. Self care is awareness of your needs as a mother, as a woman and for me as a birth worker.
As I’ve assessed how I’ve been doing it’s been eye-opening. I’ve been feeling more depressed and realizing that that is the result of several bad lifestyle choices. I’m heavier and feeling gross from bingeing on WAY TOO much Halloween candy/pie/pumpkin cheesecake. I haven’t been making myself go to bed as often as I should. I’m not exercising so I’m stiff and feeling lazy. It wasn’t until I had a few late night/early morning births that I realized just how out of whack I was. I can’t live this way and do my birth lifestyle. I can’t live this way and be the Mom I want to be. And really, I’m not the wife Mr. Davis would like right now either. Self-care is really important.
Self-care looks like many different things. For me, it’s the ability to balance indulging and discipline. It’s not withholding things from myself purely from guilt. It’s prioritizing. And those things can all be hard.
Balancing Indulgence & Discipline:
I struggle with this. If I try too hard to be perfect, I tend to rebel. For example, it took me YEARS to realize that I don’t do well on diets. And if I’m aiming for perfection I overthink things. If I quit sugar, it’s not just cookies. It’s all carbs (because they metabolize as sugar), all vinegars (same reason), and I limit my fruit intake. I do this for a week and get unbearably sad. I then press on, getting sadder and more angry and more needy. Then, I collapse. And I binge. The binge tends to lead to me eating significantly more sugar than I would have in the first place. For me, I do better at lifestyle changes.
But I often forget this about myself. When I decide I need to do yoga more often I can’t set a goal to do it every day. It just doesn’t happen and when it doesn’t I feel like a failure so I quit. Then I get frustrated. Then I really NEED the yoga that I’m just not doing. The same goes for scripture study, going to bed on time and eating. I need enough discipline to be healthy and accomplish what I need, and enough indulgence that I don’t feel boxed in or overly-scheduled or deprived.
Welcome to the madness of a day in April.
I’ve been struggling with that balance lately and I heard the BEST radio show conversation Sunday morning that finally let in that little ray of light that I needed on the subject. It was the phrase “more often than not.” More often than not I eat healthfully. More often than not I go to bed on time. More often than not I do yoga. WOW. What a powerful phrase that I needed to hear.
I needed that in many areas of my life. I’m continually wracked with #momguilt and this phrase applied so quickly and easily to my pain. More often than not my children are read to. More often than not they play outside. More often than not I pick them up from school on time. I immediately feel better realizing that is the truth, so the times when they are watching too much TV, eating doritos for lunch and covered in filth I can reassure myself that I don’t NEED all the mom guilt.
I get caught up sometimes in how many blessings/privilege I enjoy that others do not. I think it’s good to be aware, but at the same time it can easily cross over a line into causing myself more sadness than is necessary. For example: “I’m cold, my hands are cold and I would really love to shower to warm them up” is met with my internal voice of: “You’re cold?? You grew up in Idaho!! Suck it up! It’s a huge waste of water for you to just go warm up! You don’t need to be warm! Plenty of people live without running water OR warm water and you can too. When was the last time your kids had a bath??” I think I’m letting my internal voice get a little unnecessarily mean.
Giving myself permission to enjoy things without any guilt has been an important step for me and a SUPER important step in terms of embracing an attitude of self care. I find it extra necessary as a birth worker because I’m constantly encouraging pregnant women and women in labor to care for themselves on an instinctual level. I need to practice what I preach. Minus the guilt.
So if I’m not going to set a goal to do yoga everyday, how do I stick with it? I’m finding, over and over again, I just do better if I put a note in my planner under goals that says YOGA 4X. That means, this week, I’d really like to do yoga 4x. That leaves openness for me to decide when and how. Having it there is a reminder that it’s what I want to do-so when I start mapping out my days I can put in ideas of when and where that would work. It also means that when I wake up in the morning I should probably do it earlier in the day, rather than later. This goes for all of my goals and self-care needs. They have to be prioritized. I find as I start my week I’m deciding what’s most important this week, and sometimes work wins and sometimes sleep wins and sometimes the kids win.
What self-care looks like around here right now:
Self-care looks like realizing I didn’t have 60 minutes to exercise this morning, so I did 20. I looks like staying in bed an extra 15 minutes to snuggle a kitten (and forgiving myself and moving on even though some exercise time was definitely taken by kitten time). It looks like picking Stella up from preschool in my full pajamas after a shower to warm me up. It also looks like adding veggies to my smoothie because I have GOT to eat more veggies. And multi-tasking some breakfast with coloring-book style scripture study. Balance. Forgiveness. Priorities. And a continual reassessment if I’m doing all of that well. In a non-judgy way.
#selfcare mamas. self-care.