So last week, after I cleaned my laundry room and cleared my kitchen table (I would post a pic but I fear jinxing the situation), and then doing and folding several loads of laundry, I was exhausted. I think I also cooked most of our meals. (Hapa Papa couldn’t figure out whose house he was living in but he wasn’t complaining.) By the end of last week, I was tired, cranky, and barely homeschooled Cookie Monster.
I went into my session with Dr. T feeling defeated and bleh and annoyed with myself.
I want to be an excellent homeschooling parent, keep my home clean/neat, and cook good, nutritious meals for my family. But I often feel as if I can only have one, or maybe max out at two of these desires. So, because this week I cleaned and then cooked, I sucked at homeschooling. Like, totally blanked out. I’m surprised Cookie Monster learned anything at all last week. Especially after I yelled at him several times while working with him on math and piano.
I remember back in May, Dr. T asked me what would nurture me and give me life. I had no idea and as a result, got really sad, feeling as if I were no longer a person.
When I think of things that I assume should bring me life such as going on Mothers’ Night Out, hanging out with my friends, running off to the spa and getting massages or pedicures, reading, or watching TV, they are things that I enjoy, but don’t really give me life.
To me, all these activities are escapes. They are my alcohol or drug. I flee my home but come back more exhausted (usually due to staying up too late and not having the energy to take care of my kids and then feeling shitty about that). They don’t actually solve any of my problems.
Then, Dr. T told me something that in retrospect, seems so obvious. Also, suspiciously “easy.”
She told me that for me, self-care would be when I chose not to stay up late to finish a book in one sitting and instead, retired at a more reasonable hour so that I wouldn’t be tired the next morning. Self-care would be when I chose to communicate with Hapa Papa and let him have moments to rest so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about being an entitled prat. Self-care would be when I chose to go through the mail every day and pay bills immediately rather than have mail stack up for months and years at a time. Self-care would be when I chose to walk away from my kids when I feel like I’m going to explode and scream at them for whatever ridiculous reason at the time.
Self-care looked nothing like what I thought it did. And also, seemed semi-doable once I stopped freaking out about doing the self-care “right.”
After some thought, here then, are some things that I can do to make myself feel nurtured and cared for:
1) In order to not feel guilty all the time regarding feeling entitled to tons of free time and shunting the brunt of house and childcare onto Hapa Papa, I will:
– Let Hapa Papa sleep in and I will take the morning shift on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. (Currently, he lets me sleep in every morning unless he is out traveling or needs to be in the office early.)
– Check in with Hapa Papa to make sure he’s doing okay. (I know, I know. It’s weird to actually communicate – but apparently, that is what people do in marriages.)
– Thank Hapa Papa and choose to be grateful for all that he does rather than feel entitled to his kindness and easy-going attitude.
2) Eat regularly (such as breakfast).
– This includes making simple but nutritious food for my family on a more regular basis (we’re talking rice/noodles + meat + veg + fruit).
– Making and drinking more smoothies/popsicles
– Eating fruit. (I realize I buy all this fruit but I save it all for my kids. I don’t actually eat them myself.)
– Taking my vitamins/supplements consistently.
3) Sort and take care of mail daily. (Including paying bills immediately.)
4) Kitchen table daily. Otherwise, the mail and art and stuff stacks up on my kitchen table until we have a party/event at my house and then we shove all that stuff into a bag and then we shove that into the laundry room. And then, I have just piles and piles of bags full of stuff that I have to sort again a year later.
5) Tidy up play areas 15 minutes daily. Force the kids to be part of this in order to earn their screen time for the next day. The place doesn’t have to be spotless, but tidier.
6) Exercise/stretch. Since I have so many things I want to do to care for myself, I’m going to combine this with the children, too. Make them stretch and exercise with me.
7) Meditate. Also, with the children. Likely, right before bed so we can calm down a bit before the nightly ritual of them getting out of bed a million times until I scream at them to stop.
8) Go to bed before midnight. That’s really still not enough time, but I just need to consciously choose to stop choosing to watch shows when it’s 11:30pm or to stop reading even if I’m not yet done. Otherwise, the brief feeling of satisfaction is occluded by my bitchiness due to lack of sleep.
9) Fold laundry and/or do dishes ASAP. (This will likely not happen – but one can dream.)
10) Walk away when mad/frustrated. This will hopefully help me not scream at my kids.
12) Put down my phone. I need to stop using my phone so much when I have downtime and just take out a pen and paper and write. Or read. Or whatever. I have the time. I just waste it.
Even looking at this list makes me sort of tighten up inside. I feel anxious and as if I’m setting myself up to fail. However, I just have to tell my all-or-nothing personality to STFU and chill the fuck out.
So, I just have to remind myself (and perhaps you dear readers can help, too). This post is just a gentle reminder of the things I can do to cut down on my anxiety. It is not supposed to make me feel more anxious. (Ah, irony.)
I mean, this is silly and too easy, right? And I say, “easy” because if I had only been doing this already, much of my cycle of angry cleaning then exhaustion would be solved, right? This post is seriously just a Mash Note to the proverb: A stitch in time saves nine. (Incidentally, I didn’t even understand this saying until a few years ago. When I literally was stitching/patching Cookie Monster’s pants. This is probably why I have so many fails at adulting.)
So, this is just how it looks for me to self-care. What does it look like for you?