Crazy right? Sometimes when we are stressed out the only thing we can think about is how we need to just get away for a while.
It would be fabulous if we could all get away for some “me time” by ourselves each day, but as you know, if you’re a parent especially, that just does not always happen. Yes, we all do need to get away sometimes and breathe a little, read a book in peace, or grocery shop without a fight. For sure! But if I dwell on how I don’t get enough alone time, odds are, I won’t be a very happy mother! And it can create a downward spiral of unhealthy thinking. Can you relate?!
This morning in Yoga I looked down and realized I had a gigantic smear of baby food on my pants. Great. I easily pushed the thought aside. It didn’t matter. Actually, it made me smile. My life is so about my kids so much of the time, I don’t even notice things like that anymore. Yoga was my “me-time” today, obviously, but I love that even there, in that quiet kid-less space, the daily mess of motherhood is present… and I actually love that. I embrace that. It’s who I am! And I love my kids enormously.
But that in mind, I definitely need creative outlets for myself. I think it’s important for my kids to see me doing things that I enjoy. It’s important for them to see me working out, creatively using my talents, visiting friends or what have you. That being said, I’m hoping to encourage you with ways that you can take care of yourself too while still rocking this motherhood thing.
Five Ways to Include Your Kids In Your Self-care Routine
- Make them a real priority. This may seem like a strange tip to offer as number one on this list, but seriously… when we truly unplug and get out of our own head long enough to play one more round of hide and seek or build one more lego masterpiece, we are investing in what really makes our little ones happy – time with us. This makes for happier lives all around- less whining, less drama, and consequently less chronically stressed out parents! Am I right? Makes sense to me. And I see this truth in our home, for sure!
- Show them how it’s done! I want my kids to learn what healthy self-care really looks like. To develop healthy attitudes and become successful adults someday who can handle anything life throws at them. My parents were good at this. I have clear memories of them doing things they enjoyed and including me in those things. I think it’s so important to teach your kids team spirit when it comes to working together as a family unit. Everyone in the family has valid needs and important responsibilities, and everyone needs to know that they are loved and cared for so that the family unit runs as smoothly as possible. It’s good for kids to be shown needs outside of themselves, even if they don’t understand the whole aspect of self care yet. My gym has childcare so I bring my kids with. We make it a fun family outing, pack snacks to enjoy together afterward, and I make a habit of conversing with them about what they enjoyed in kids gym and and how it made them feel. Now eventually my son who is three has now learned to ask me in return, “How was your workout mom?” So I like to think I’m encouraging good communication skills as well, through all of this! A win-win!
- Do creative projects together. I feel great when working on creative projects. It’s a huge part of maintaining “me”, if you know what I mean! If I’m playing around with a new recipe or working on a DIY decoration for my home, I obviously would prefer to do it alone. But if I always waited to do it when I was alone, I would hardly ever get to any of these projects, am I right? So sometimes I improvise. I’ll pull up a stool and my kids will join me, and I just have to remind them to follow my directions so we can work together effectively. I’m not about to let having littles at home limit me and my creativity! Since we moved into this apartment more than two years ago, I’ve wanted to get some of my own art up on the walls. Finally this last week, I set everything up and had my son create some art alongside me. (Better late than never, right?) I created some stencils of dinosaurs and had my sweet boy create his own wall art for his room. The results turned out fantastic and he was so proud of his work! I also gulped, let go of perfectionism, and let him help me create a large canvas painting for the living room. I had an old painting I’d found at Goodwill a few years back, and just painted over it with a solid color, and we added our own design inspired by…well… my three year old! And the results totally impressed me, and he was so proud to have contributed! He couldn’t wait to show it off.
4. Strap in and GO! For the days when I just need to pull out the quiet box of arts and crafts supplies – complete with glue and glitter – for my older boy and get some peace and quiet for twenty minutes, I strap my little baby girl into my Tula baby carrier (Can’t live without my Tula!) and hand her a teether. I can then usually pace the floor and fit in reading almost an entire chapter of a book, listen to a sermon or podcast, phone a friend for a few minutes, even catch up on emails. Watch yourself, however, that you set yourself a time limit so you can come back to life in an appropriate amount of time. Hence, the final point, point five…
5. I’ll be honest, this doesn’t always work, but it definitely has worked for me often enough times to make number five on this list… Set a timer! I have an adorable little old school timer that sticks to my fridge and I use it for everything from baking cookies to letting kids know how many minutes until bedtime, and my personal favorite… quiet time. I will set the timer for however many minutes I need, usually no more than 20 or 30, and I will take that time to do a little tidying, wash the dishes, do a little yoga, or even pay a few bills. Not exactly glamorous, but to me, staying on top of life in general clearly helps reduce and lower stress, am I right?
If you take away one thing from this post, I would encourage you to readjust your expectations of what it might take to lower stress, especially if you’re a mother of little ones. The answer is probably so much more simple, straightforward, and more pleasant than you think. Maybe consider lowering your expectation a little so that you don’t become discontented or discouraged if you feel you aren’t getting “adequate” you-time on a daily or weekly basis. What is “adequate”, even!? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that, it’s probably different for each of us! But I’m finding what works for me, what keeps everyone’s best interests in mind, and helps me not lose myself in this wonderful, amazing journey that is motherhood.
We all can’t wait for that one big break, or even that next vacation… we have to find ways to engage our kids and lower stress right now in this moment so we can continue being an attentive engaging parent. What does this look like practically for you? I bet you have some pretty creative ideas. Leave a comment and let me know!