Ok, this week I promised to share some ways I have replaced I can’t afford to with I can’t afford NOT to and what in the world that looks like! If you are new to this site, you may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 before proceeding. And for the sake of clarity, I’d like to begin by offering 2 tommimom definitions and distinctions that I hope will bring some clarity. Drum roll please…
Self-care: thoughts and actions that help you ENDURE your reality so you can find creative solutions and experience growth.
Self-destruction: thoughts and actions that cause you to ESCAPE your reality, inviting further difficulty and setbacks.
See the difference? Self-care and self-destruction are divided by a thin line, but wow what a difference in attitude and action! Allow me to paint a personal picture to further draw the distinction: I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 4 children ages 5, 4, 3 and 1. That’s my reality. Days can be long, weeks blurry, and the monotony thick. I wake up to children, deal with children all day until they fall asleep, where I then deal with the aftermath of a day with children (cleaning, laundry, food prep, etc) before falling into bed myself. Wake up and repeat. For what feels like THE REST OF MY LIFE!
In light of that reality, Self-care has looked like this: I’m tired and could use a break. It’s only 3 pm. How about I email the Hero Hubs at work for support? He suggests we get take-out for dinner and he comes home ready to help. We put the kids to bed early (explaining that Mommy needs some rest and they can help by going to bed and listen to a book on cd), and then we enjoy a shared pint of (Hagen Daz Caramel Cone!) ice cream and a movie that makes us laugh. We don’t stay up too late, because we know that the kids won’t sleep in just because we stay up! Before falling asleep, I come up with a game plan for the following day, which involves hiring a babysitter in the afternoon so I can catch up on the work I surrendered tonight. I wake up hopeful and rested, and I thank the children for their help last night.
Self-destruction, however, has looked like this: I’m tired and DEMAND a break. But first, I will continue cooking my elaborate dinner because the kids must eat a protein and 3 different veggies every. single. night. I yell at them for getting in my way. I’m mad at the Hero Hubs before he even gets home from work and it escalates when I don’t sense sympathy (even though I haven’t expressed my reality moderately and the poor guy has no clue what I’m thinking). Bedtime is a disaster and all I can think about is how much I need a break. I grab an ENTIRE pint of ice cream and refuse to share. After all, his day wasn’t as grueling as mine. Not that I would know, because I haven’t asked nor do I care; I’m too busy recounting my woes from the day. I watch an emotionally-charged movie and then surf the internet, staying up waaaay too late. Next morning, I wake up even more irritable and tired.
Also true story.
[Please hold while I take a deep breath and shake it off!]
I used to think I couldn’t afford self-care because…well…what about all the laundry? The dishes? The menu I have planned this week? My to-do list? How will the world carry on without me if I take a break? And though these old stories still creep into my life, these days I’m far more prone to conclude I can’t afford NOT to practice self-care because…well…what about my long-term health? My influence as a parent? A wife? A human? How will I ever discover my unique God-given gifts- let alone offer them to the world- if I’m too busy being busy? Or tired?? Or sick???
Oh there’s so much more to discuss on this topic! But quite honestly, this was a difficult post to share and I COULD USE A BREAK! Next week we’ll crack open a treasure chest of easy-to-implement-self-care practices that may tremendously help you endure- and even ENJOY- your reality as they have mine. Until then, I wish you a week of discovery and grace!