I have four children ages three to nine and, needless to say, life is busy. Between helping with math facts, school projects, sports practice, piano lessons, learning letters and potty training, it’s amazing we get anything done at all. Not to mention teaching life lessons and kindness and, oh yeah, I started a small skincare business about a year ago.
For many, self-care might look like long bubble baths with candles and wine (okay, definitely wine!) or a pampering day at the spa, getting a facial and a massage. After all, self-care is about doing something you enjoy—something to rejuvenate your soul—so that you can get back to your everyday tasks with a renewed sense of purpose and joy.
But, for some reason, when I do these types of “self-care,” I end up feeling more stressed out and frustrated than ever before. So, I decided to start taking mental notes of when I feel my best and the most energized about my life—and the answer was surprising!
Turns out, I felt renewed and refreshed after I accomplished something. Yep! For me, I’m most at peace with myself when I complete a task from start to finish!
In actuality, this really shouldn’t have been a big surprise to me. Before kids, I was a highly motivated, type-A personality. And not that having kids has completely transformed me, but a lot of parenting, especially parenting small children, is mundane and slow-paced. There’s no deadline, progress report or paycheck at the end of the day. For the most part, it’s a lot of chaos and survival. No one pats you on the back for a job well done if your kid learns to ride his bike at the age of two-and-a-half or shares his toy without being prompted. So much of it is constantly repeating yourself and picking up the house for the 100th-millionth time (is that even a number?!).
Oh, and don’t even get me started about the laundry—there is noooooo finish line there, EVER! So, if you’re like me and just want to get something done to feel like yourself again, here is my short-but-sweet list of self-care that makes me feel happy and ready to take on anything!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put on exercise clothing thinking I would find some time in the day to do a quick workout video, jump rope or run and never get it done. I eventually started feeling like a fool that I even owned exercise clothes, because I never actually did it. Then, I joined a CrossFit gym with fixed workout times and motivating instructors and I finally found the time to get some use out of those expensive leggings. I started prioritizing my workouts, paid for a sitter and just stopped making excuses. I know now that when I work out consistently, I feel more focused, energized and, yep, accomplished.
Cleaning My House Alone, or Paying Someone Else
Nothing makes me feel more stressed and frazzled than a dirty house—and I’m not just talking about clutter on the floors, but deep-down grossness. On Fridays, my mom comes over to help out with my two younger kids, so I can give the house a good once-over with no one under foot! We’ve also used cleaning services in the past and it used to make me feel guilty that I had to pay someone to clean my own house, especially since I’m a “stay-at-home mom.” But it beats feeling angry and defeated, because you just can’t seem to get your floor mopped without someone running in from the outside and getting it all muddy again. Taking my kids out for an outing and paying someone to clean or having a sitter or my mom help out so I can clean alone makes me feel at peace with my surroundings!
Organizing & Decluttering
This may sound ridiculous to many, but if I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, nothing brings me more joy than cleaning out a closet or reorganizing a cabinet in the kitchen. Getting rid of clutter and organizing the things I actually use makes me feel happy, especially when I can find something quickly when I need it! (Hint, hint: definitely send your kids over to the grandparents’ house to purge the toys, or you will get nowhere fast!)
Date Night to Discuss, Plan & Coordinate Schedules for the Week
My husband and I have a standing date night every Tuesday. You would think we’d use this time to have long, romantic conversations—but think again. We discuss drop-off and pick-up for sports practices, up-and-coming weekend events and vacation-planning. We basically figure out how we’re going to divide and conquer to get through the next week, and it’s one of the most rejuvenating nights of my week. I go home feeling relieved that we’re going to make it all work for yet another week. We always tell our kids we’re a team, and the coaches need to go and figure out the game plan! I also strongly believe it makes our marriage stronger to prioritize us for just one night!
Having Adult Conversations
Okay, this may not sound like a highly accomplished task unless you’ve tried to have a real conversation with four kids hanging around. My closest friends and I have mastered this the best we can, but most of our conversations are constantly paused by “don’t do that,” “say you’re sorry” or “get that out of your mouth.” Every once in a while, it’s rejuvenating and refreshing to have a conversation when you can express your full thought without interruption. So, I never feel guilty about my date nights, girl’s nights or even the conversation I have with the checkout clerk at Target when I’m alone! It makes me feel like me, just to simply express myself in full sentences.
Making Small, Progressive Steps in Growing My Business
Working may sound counter-productive for “self-care,” but raising my kids is my first priority, so taking time away to work on my business is very much a sacrifice and self-serving accomplishment. Being an entrepreneur is not as regimented as my years working in a hospital or clinic as a nurse practitioner, but I have mental goals and strict standards for what I want to offer the world when it comes to skincare. There’s a fair share of chaos, but occasionally, when I can check off a task, finish a blog post or just get a great review from a happy customer, I can sit back, take a deep breath and feel like it’s all worth it.
To many, this may sound like “simply living” and not necessarily self-care, but when done well, these are the things that make me feel like my truest self. Feeling at peace with who you really are is what self-care is all about. Don’t try to force others’ ideas on yourself. I only gave you my list to show you that sometimes what rejuvenates one person might look differently from the “norm.” We are at our best when we know ourselves and feed those truths. So, stop doing things that you think you should be doing and find what gives you inner peace. Self-care is caring for you in a way that gives you a renewed sense of purpose, and that’s all there is to it.
How do you practice self-care?