Saturday, June 28, 2014

Prioritizing Self Care

People occasionally misinterpret when I talk about prioritizing taking care of ones self.

I think it's my accent.

I get some, "I REALLY WISH I was in that stage of life."  Or, "Maybe once I wrap up this responsibility or that one, I'll be able to think about what I need."  Etc Etc.

I preach that preparation for any long term endeavor is key.  But, that aside, the spirit behind the rebuttals above is that self care (especially for a parent) is equivalent to moving a mountain.

It's not.

It only FEELS like moving a mountain.

Mostly,'s simply...not a habit.

Flossing my teeth each morning is my habit.  I don't think about it.  It requires no mental or emotional energy from me.  It's not even a thought in my brain.  UNTIL I'm out of floss.  Then, I prioritize going to the store to buy some (because not having it is unacceptable) and once I return, I am able to get right back on autopilot in regards to my dental care.

Habits are easy.

When we are in the process of creating NEW habits, it's hard.

But worth it.

Prioritizing self care for me hasn't meant I've stopped caring for my family.  Have you met my family of 7?  They can ALL be demanding.  They can have little thought of making demands of me, and frankly, I'm up for it.  I can move fast, multi task, organize, go the extra mile -- and have no fear of looking them in the eye and saying "no" when I want too.  Their intensity works for me.  I love it.  I love them.

Prioritizing self care hasn't stopped me from caring for them, but it has CHANGED the WAY I care for them.

Let me give you some real life examples.

Weight loss surgery has made me no less in love with mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and hot steamy rolls.  So...I simply DON'T COOK THEM.  Last night's dinner was a lovely grilled pork chop with a side of steamed broccoli/carrots/zucchini.  That's it.

When my teens gave me that look, you know, the one that says, "Is there anything else?", I sweetly answer no.  This is NOT only healthy (and self care) for me.  I remind myself that the way I eat is healthy for them as well.

If my family member had an addiction to alcohol, I wouldn't mix up margarita's at home for fun -- even though -- I think an adult beverage from time to time is fine.  If my husband had come in to our marriage with an addiction to porn, I would be extra sensitive to what movies, magazines, etc that I brought in to our house.  The meal choice above simply shows the same consideration of myself.

I don't buy Oreo cookies.  I don't buy them even though Billy loves them and doesn't have "the same issues with food as I do."  I don't buy ice cream "for the kids".   BECAUSE I'M NOT CURED OF MY FATNESS AND WOULD EAT IT LIKE CRAZY.  Prioritizing what I need in this regard means my family is along for the ride.  Just like I am for them.  And that's healthy in a lot of ways -- for all of us.

We still have ice cream by the way.  We eat it at the ice cream store.  We enjoy a "kiddie size" serving and then come home.  I am a food addict.  I can't live with temptation staring me in the face 24/7 -- and I shouldn't have too.  Not anymore than any other addict should have too.  My desire for a Little Debbie at 10 pm is just as strong as it used to be.  The difference  is now it is my habit not to buy them.  When I walk to my pantry -- there is NOTHING THERE expect some raw almonds.  They aren't near as fun.

Another real life example....

I have a day of running errands, having lunch with a friend...I come home and think, "I need to work out, but the kids have been home alone most of the day.  It wouldn't be right for me to leave them for another hour and 1/2".

Now that I prioritize my needs as well as theirs, I may say something like, "We are going for a walk.  Go get on your shoes."  Kids say back, "We don't want to go on a walk!"  I say, "We're not going for you.  We are going for me.  Plus I want to spend time with you.  Now, GET ON YOUR SHOES."  Again, THIS IS ACTUALLY HEALTHY FOR ALL OF US.

Moms not used to self care have thoughts like this, "My tennis shoes are 3 years old.  I could really use another pair.  Infact, I bet I'd be more motivated to work out if I bought a new pair of tennis shoes, some new socks and a cute work out outfit."  Their next thought goes, "I can't do that right now.  School starts in a month and all these kids will need new shoes and new clothes."  And, they dutifully let that be the end all be all.

All parents make self sacrifices.  And some of this is good and right.  But consistently doing it over the course of 20 years, means the kids grow up fine (probably) while mom and dad are a wreck.  It means DEVALUING CARING FOR YOURSELF has actually become your habit.   It's easy to do.  You can put yourself last on autopilot.

But that's not best for anyone in the long run.  And, it's not how I want my kids to parent my future my grandchildren.  I want my kids to learn to care for themselves in the future while naturally bringing their children along with them on the journey.

The fight feels real...but when you have break through in an area here and there...even the smallest victories...the feeling that accompanies it is so worth it!

You are worth it!

And, you can do it.