The Self-Care Myth

Once upon a time, I was an unhappy, stressed out mom. 

I was full-time caretaker of two little boys, struggling to keep everyone happy and fed and not fighting, work from home,  maintain some semblance of order and occasionally spend time with my husband before falling asleep on the couch in front of Netflix.
If you had asked me, I would have told you that life was great. It was in many ways. But buried down in the most raw, basic place of my mind, I was resentful as hell.
At the time I put this blame (subconsciously) on my husband. He got to leave the house every day. He had 10 hours a day to focus on his job and career. He came home to a cooked dinner. Whereas I spent my days breaking up fights between two little boys over things like whether or not gorillas eat bananas (true story). I wanted him to understand how hard this was for me and, somehow or other, to fix it.
Hindsight is an enlightening thing, isn’t it?
I know now that I was off the mark. I was unfairly looking outward, to my husband, to meet my needs. I didn’t realize, until I had several years of reflection, that the responsibility for my own care rested on my own spit-up stained shoulders.
But I don’t have time for myself! See, I knew what you were thinking.  This is where many moms get stuck. Time. I gotcha. This was my frustrated rationalization as well mainly because IT’S TRUE!
The days are crazy full and we are busy, busy, busy. It’s logical to think that once everyone else is taken care of, I am exhausted and there’s no time for me. Can we all agree we’ve gone through that thought process? It’s a familiar train of thought. But before you run away with that train, pause for a minute and consider something.
Maybe we should stop putting self-care in a box.
Maybe self-care doesn’t have to look a certain way or take a certain amount of time. 
When you’re saying “I don’t have time”, are you picturing day at the spa? Or sitting on a beach quietly reading a novel for an afternoon? Or spending an hour getting a mani-pedi?
All of those things sound amazing but they’re not likely happening on a regular basis. If you’re thinking that you need hours or days to spend time on you, you’ll have a hard time getting around to it. Yet this is not something you can afford to NOT do.
I am sorry to tell you that you may just have to do what I did and shift your mindset around just a bit. As much fun as it is to whine and complain to my husband that I never have a moment to myself and it isn’t fair, that’s not a super effective strategy. Realizing that I am the one ultimately responsible for me was a bit of a “duh” moment, but also weirdly liberating.
Maybe this will be helpful for you too. Maybe it’s not so much about getting frustrated about the time we don’t have, but truly making the most of what we do have.
A day at the spa it is not. But working in itty bitty moments of self-care throughout your day place the space in your mind that says “this is mine”.
You are part of your family. You deserve your own time, love and attention, just like your family does.  Step up and accept that responsibility, then go do it – even if it’s 5 minutes at a time.
You’ve got this.

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