SELF.CARE. Let's talk specifically about self care for the caregivers of a loved one with special needs. I PROMISE I WON'T USE THE, "PUT YOUR MASK ON BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE'S" CLICHE!
Self Care, though. It is something that is mentioned to us all the time. It is honestly kind of a triggering phrase for me. Sometimes I feel like it is one more thing that people are constantly telling me to do that I feel like I am failing at. "Are you making sure to take care of yourself?" "Getting a full night's sleep?"(that is seriously just comical) "Getting some exercise and eating an ok diet?" "Making sure to take time for yourself?" I usually just answer. "Yep. All good," when I darn well know that I am always putting myself dead last and not hitting any of those self care goals like I should be. So, for me, sometimes, it's downright annoying to have people constantly tell me to make sure I am practicing "self care."
But, then, last week happened.......and WAKE-UP-CALL!
My son was working on one of his daily art projects. You know the ones that use 4,345 pieces of white, computer paper and end with artwork being taped completely around the kitchen island.
A little context into how this connects to self care-he was writing people's names on the slips of paper. He chose names of people that he loves-family, friends, neighbors! After writing out the name, he began decorating each letter with something the named person likes to do. For example, he wrote my mom's name- "GAMMY." He thought and thought about all of the things she loves to do. He decorated the "G" as a tennis ball, as she loves to hit the courts with her friends. The "A" was a seashell, since she loves to do artwork with shells-get my drift?
Well, after completing about six other names, he gets to my name. M-O-M. Three little letters-he stops and looks at me and says, "Mom, what do you like to do?" I thought for a full minute and said, "Well, I really just love to spend time with you and your brother." He very quickly replied, "NO, what is something YOU like to do-it can't be us." I kid you not when I tell you-I couldn't think of one thing that I like to do that I allow myself the time and energy to fully pursue anymore.
I am a mom. I am a special needs mom. For seven years, that has been my focus-my identity. My focus is never me and to be honest that is really just NOT ok.
I recently read a quote that stated, "Self care is how you take your power back."
I'll be the first to admit it. I may be rocking it in the "mommin' sector" of life, but I am really failing in the "self care/love sector." It is time to drop the excuses-most of them are only just that-excuses. My goal is to start small. I had another special needs mama suggest something in a support group recently that really made sense. She said, "Just start by giving yourself five minutes at the beginning of the day and five minutes at the end of the day. Literally set an alarm and use a timer. The five minutes can be whatever you choose, but it has to be about YOU! Stretch, run in place, sit in silence, watch a comedy bit on your phone-but do it for you."
I can do that-I can give myself ten minutes out of the 1,440(I most definitely googled that number) minutes in a day. and....YOU CAN TO!
I plan to start with making a list of things I enjoy doing. I really want to steer clear of making a list of things I need to be "better" at doing-I feel like that is not fostering the idea of building self confidence and love.
Here is the start to my list:
-Spending time alone
-Yard Sales/Bargain Hunting
-Reading Chick-Lit Novels
I have also purchased a really, neat self love workbook that I have linked here. It is a great way to intentionally think about YOU. The linked one above is specifically for women, so I do not want to leave any of my male readers hanging. Here is another great workbook that anyone can use.
I'll leave you with a graphic that I found that really resonated with me. It breaks self care down into multiple sections and lists examples of ways to practice self love that are simple but too often forgotten. It gave me some great ideas and ways to self reflect on things I enjoy and how to foster them in my daily life.
All my love and support, Anna