“Self care is provided by you, and for you. It’s about identifying your own needs, and taking steps to meet them. It’s taking time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” (from the Fort Garry Women’s Center fact sheet on self care)
There’s a lot of talk about self care out there. For good reason.
I don’t think there’s a profession out there that doesn’t require a practice of self care. So I don’t claim to think self care is more necessary for a homeschooling mama, a front line emergency worker, an airline pilot or a landscaper.
Unique to the homeschooling mama is that she has a steady, continuous stream of child presence. Moments of pure gratification watching the kids harmoniously engage each other, pursue new interests, jump hurdles of challenging concepts, and just be the overall cute kids we brought into the world. There’s also a continuous stream of fledgling emotions, sibling bickering, attempted bickering with the parents, complaining, and distraction. Any parent reading could add to this list.
Try as any parent might to not become subsumed by the oft-repeated negative emotions, we all have our heartstrings tied to our children’s successes and failures, to their struggles and joys, to their disharmony and harmony. When we respond in a healthy way, we try to distance the fledgling emotions from our own egos, our own sense of well-being, because quite simply, though they might have come from our womb, they are not us. Their choices are theirs. Their struggles are theirs. Their developmental stage is theirs. The unique stamp of their personhood, their unique purpose in this world, that’s theirs. We are not the main character on their stage. They are.
The desire to hold it all like it is ours, is a constant temptation for the engaged parent. And so we must take care of ourselves.
Julie Bogart from Homeschool Alliance offers excellent self-care tips from her book A Gracious Space. (Listening to this woman is a self-care strategy for me too).
Besides learning that our children are not us and we are not them, what do we do to engage in self-care?
1. Commune with God, aka meditate. (ha, even more difficult than learning that your kids’ struggles aren’t you and you aren’t your kids struggles), meditate on things that are true. Be still and know that God is God. God is above us, below us, ahead of us and behind us. God is not apart from the experiences of our lives
2. Yoga. The powerful anti-inflammatory effects of yoga has provided me years of benefit. In some circles, there is a stigma attached to it that disables many to not participate. Poor yoga, so misunderstood. Just try it. That is all.
3. Treats. A glass of wine preparing dinner on a weekend evening, listening to a cooking show, enlisting the kids in food prep with their ‘glass of bubbly’ (flavoured pellegrino), is a lovely way to enjoy the weekend.
Giada knows how to cook, and she writes beloved children’s adventure food based books that our kids loved to read. So we all enjoy her.
I love Barefoot Contessa. I love her cooking. I love her home. I love her garden. She’s easy to listen to.
4. Chocolate. Just really good chocolate. (And daily magnesium supplements that supplement your brain’s desire for chocolates. and also help you sleep better.) Chocolate is tastier.
5. Supplements. And all the other supplements that you could be taking that might increase your overall sense of well being. Learning to take daily vitamins.
Dr. Daniel Amen is a medical doctor that has written excellent resources and taught hours on PBS. Brain health is his focus. What better thing for self care than to take care of our brains?
6. Quiet time in the morning with a hot cup of coffee in a nice mug. Before anyone talks with you. To think. To determine your thoughts toward your day. To journal. To plan. This is your time to be quiet.
7. Observe. A powerful tool to understanding ourselves. Why do we feel what we feel? Not judge our feelings as good or bad, but observe our feelings. Accept them. Recognize that they often pass with the wind. Unlike any other self-care tip I’ve engaged, this ‘observing myself’ has continually helped me unlock intense feelings. It is a lifelong self care project, understanding myself.
8. Exercise. Somehow, some way, every day. (Or at least, most days). We need endorphin rushes. (That don’t come from children squabbling, or someone getting hurt or complaints about math problems.) Burn off that tension with exercise, that you enjoy.
9. Energizing activities. For me, writing, gardening, reading, nature. For you, needlepoint, poetry, 1950s deco, clothing design, makeup techniques, travel blogs. Whatever it is, do it every day. Just 15 minutes. You can do that or you can learn to do that (and your kids will learn that you are indeed going to do that).
10. Friendships. Nurturing friendships enables connection and satisfies the desire to know and be known. I like friendships that are comfort blankets, but I also nurture friendships that are experiences. It is novel to know someone who appears different at first glance. Understanding where they came from, why they think what they think, kinda like travelling to a foreign country. But just the cost of a cup of coffee. (Spend enough time with them and learn that you’re not all that different).
These are my top ten.
If you would like to think about others that are outside my scope, but are super clever, see this blog:
What are your top ten self-care practices?