When you are trying to simplify your life, it can be so easy to forget that self-care is important. It can be even easier to feel a bit lost or not know where to begin a self-care regiment. Today I would like to motivate and inspire you by sharing the 3 most important elements of self-care.
I am a woman, wife, mom of many, and a Mimi. I am a business owner, I work for surgeon, and I am a volunteer. Like you, I wear many hats. Even though I have many responsibilities that compromise my days I have been able to simplify my life. So how do I appear to do it all? I make time to care for myself on a daily basis. Hang in there. I will explain this in more detail.
Your Mom Life
First, let’s talk about everyday Mom Life. I am the top chef and the kitchen staff, Personal Assistant for every family member, personal tutor, financial analyst, laundress, therapist, nutritionist, advocate, secretary, corporate accountant, night shift leader, consultant, Business owner, maid, President of Human Resources, chauffeur, secretary, head stock boy, day laborer, homestead VP, educational advisor, chief negotiator, operations and project manager, head gardener and grounds keeper, primary mediator, and so much more. Sound familiar?
You have this same long list of responsibilities on any given day. All of these aspects of your life can coexist in a simple life. This happens when you take time to care for yourself. YES! You need to make time to take care of you! Self Care is crucial for a healthy and happy Mom. Laura Choate, Ed. D., LPC wrote an excellent article for Psychology Today that digs in to the importance of self-care. “It is important to try to find some activities that do not drain us further but rather replenish us, where we actually feel better when we have completed them rather than just feeling further behind on our to-do lists.”
If Mama Ain’t Happy
All that said, like you, I do all these jobs, not out of obligation or begrudgingly, but because I love my family. You are a mom and you are all these things to your family too. With a life so full you may still feel emptiness. You have been working to simplify your life, so why is it that even though you are doing things more simply, working on organizing your home in way that allows for you to spend less time on maintenance, monitoring your schedule do you have this seemingly open-pit? What is missing in such a simple, yet full life? The answer is even simpler than the life you are working towards; you must absolutely and unabashedly make time for self-care on a regular basis and create a more balanced life .
Think about it from this perspective; if your family requires all of the above care and devotion to have happy lives, that the primary person giving this care does as well? Remember that bumper sticker, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy?” One of the most poignant truths in the wide, wide world! So, what are the most important elements of self-care and how can you get motivated to make them a priority?
It’s Deeply Personal
You are making strides to simplify your life and this requires you care for yourself to make it happen if you want to actually experience the happiness and contentment that comes from simple living. The best part is there really are only 3 important elements for self-care: time for yourself, a commitment to healthy eating and exercise, and FUN! These 3 core areas of focus are what will motivate and inspire you to continue your pursuit of simple living as a lifestyle as opposed to your simple lifestyle being just a trendy phase in your life. I will explain these in detail, but first I want to share something deeply personal with you.
Although I know these core elements and I am committed to my self-care as part of my simple life, there are times I fall short. Just recently, I took on a commitment to help someone for a very good reason with the best of intentions. I set up a clear boundary of what I could offer, especially of my time. Within 7 days of working on the project I realized that to truly make a difference, it was going to require a LOT more of my time than I had originally planned.
So, we had a family meeting and I explained the situation and what was going to be needed from me to make my efforts meaningful. I admitted to them that this was far beyond what we had agreed upon as a family (2 days per week) when I took on the project and that it was something I could not have predicted. I wanted to be completely honest and transparent with my family so they did not have a sense of being pushed to the side. The family was on board with me helping out and fully aware that original schedule was now going to change from 2 days per week to a full blown 50-60 hours per week. (Mind you, this increase was only to last until the project was under control, there was no clear boundary as to how long this would be.)
With my family supporting my decision to stick with the project, I plunged head first into it. It required me to be away from home about 9 hours per day. Then holed up in my room working for another 5-8 hours in the evening. I am the type of person who works until the work is done. I don’t like to be interrupted. Forcing myself to break runs against my habitual work ethic. This means I was not making time for my family. I wasn’t meeting the essential elements of self-care in any way. Yep, I had slipped over the edge! It was a quick fall back into hectic habits that I know produce a negative outcome.
My definition of a negative outcome: anything that draws me away from my mission and goals for a simple life with my family being first in all things. My family was very supportive. The kids chipped in on the home front to keep the house semi livable and clean. They had taken on the roles of top chef and laundress. My oldest daughter had become the family’s chauffeur, tutor, and shopper. They are the most wonderful family, truly they are. The bottom line is that mom had become a ghost.Not only was I ghost to my family, I was a ghost to myself. I wasn’t doing anything to care for my self. This continued for an ENTIRE season. Yup, I missed an entire season of a year with my family before I made my happiness a priority.
All of this left me surrounded by negativity, but I had allowed this to happen. I allowed my desire to always be helpful and my work drive to overwork myself to take over my life. Every one of these activities and commitments were important. It is important for you to know you are not alone. Know that you can come back from this edge! Now, let’s look at the end point and how I was able to motivate myself to return to living a simple life. It all started with focus on the most important elements of self-care in my life.
During my season involved in this project I had discontinued exercise of any kind; I had even dropped my steps/day from an average of 8,000-10,000 down to 5,000-6,000. I was not eating consistently healthy meals. I didn’t have any time to myself. Lastly, fun wasn’t even on my radar. Inside I felt empty and sad even though I was working on very worthwhile and meaningful commitments.
3 Most Important Elements of Self Care
- Schedule Time Alone: This is one is at the top of the list for good reason. It is the foundation that will offer you the most internal reward. The amount of time you schedule to spend with yourself isn’t nearly as important as what you do with the time. Even 10-15 minutes committed to a cup of tea, meditation, reading, or just being still will be a life changer!
- Healthy Eating & Exercise: Many times we think of diet and exercise with a negative attitude because we associate it with a chore such as losing weight. However, incorporating it on a daily basis is an essential element to self-care. It produces an immediate positive outcome. Making exercise part of your daily self-care routine, your mind thinks of it from a maintenance perspective, as opposed to a cause and effect process. It will continue to motivate and keep you focused with this element of self-care without much effort.
- FUN! Ok, I am not going to lie; this is my FAVORITE element of my self-care routine. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing more rewarding than enjoying fun activities with family and friends. Once you begin planning regular fun, you will find yourself more relaxed. Your motivation level twill rise anticipating what is on your schedule today, tomorrow, and the day after. Take turns picking fun activities with family members and friends to keep yourself from getting in a rut.
Self Care = Happiness
One of the main reasons you want to simplify mom life is that you want to have time to truly live and experience life. In order to accomplish this AND be happy ,make self-care a priority. Use these important elements of self-care to get you started on making YOU a priority today!
Do you have ideas or specific activities as part of your daily routine to keep self-care a priority? I’d love for you to share them. The more we share with each other the better success we all have at simplifying our mom!