As a mom or dad, you’re probably all-too familiar with the crazy schedule that dictates our lives: work, managing the home, taking care of the kids, making sure there’s food on the table, cars are working properly, money is put away for education and retirement, insurance needs are handled – the list can seem endless.
But one absolute necessity that should be at the top of our To Do list often ends up at the very bottom, or even forgotten about altogether: YOU.
We’re fastidious about packing a nourishing, well-balanced lunch for our kids at school, yet when it comes to ourselves, we grab whatever empty calorie snack is within reach because we’re too busy to stop and prepare something nutritious. Then we eat it on the run (which we all agree is extremely unhealthy).
We dedicate hours to our careers, making sure that everything is in tip top shape at work – and yet we ignore the fact that there are no hours set aside to keep ourselves in shape.
When was the last time you read a book in the park? Took a nice, long leisurely walk with your dog without checking your watch every ten minutes? Found a quiet spot to sit alone with your thoughts? I’ll bet the answer is you don’t remember the last time you did any of this.
We’re diligent about taking our cars in for a check-up service every 10,000 miles, yet we don’t do this for ourselves. Why not? Aren’t our bodies, our minds, and our spirit more important than that hunk of metal with wheels? Yet we often fail to provide ourselves with the necessities we need for our own maintenance.
That was exactly the state I was for a long period of time. Running around like crazy … juggling family, business, home … trying to get everything done … feeling like 24 hours just wasn’t enough! Then one day I realized that in order to take care of my family, I had to take care of myself first. In essence, put on my own oxygen mask before helping others – as they say on the airplanes.
If I’m not in good health both physically and emotionally, then how can I take care of my family? So I started to put myself at the top of my To Do list instead of at the bottom. I began carving out time for myself to do something just for me – whether it was going to a Yoga class, going swimming, enjoying a long soak in the tub, or meeting a friend for lunch – I made sure to schedule my “me” time. And guess what? Nothing fell apart without me. The business thrives … my husband and kids are healthy … the world didn’t collapse without me. In fact, I became a better person because of it! I had more energy, I was more relaxed, and I found I smiled more. I became a happier person and a more patient mom.
I know it’s not easy to take a break away from our list of demands – everything can feel urgent! But for our own health and well-being, it’s something that we need to do. My suggestion is to …
* Schedule a “10,000 mile check-up” with your doctor;
* Work an exercise routine into your schedule – and no, having too many errands or deadlines at work is not reason enough to skip!
* Plan some “date nights”!
* Indulge yourself with an occasional treat, i.e. go to the movies, reconnect with an old friend, or take on a new hobby.
* Note which days you have that are free so that you can start making “me” time a habit.
* Give yourself some major – but attainable – goals, such as getting back in shape, reading a book a week, taking a few college courses, etc.
* Find your inner happiness and keep coming back to it.
Most of all stick to it! Don’t let this become another resolution that dies off after a couple of weeks. Think of taking “me” time as a much-needed maintenance for your engine. You’ll find that you’ll accomplish more and have more energy by taking that time to recharge.