We hear a lot these days about the importance of self care. Taking time out for ourselves. Everything from a pampering spa day to making sure you get annual well check-ups with your doctor. While all of these are important, the truth is, one spa day isn’t going to make up for months of not taking care of yourself. I think of self care along the lines of self respect and self love. Self care is how we treat ourselves each and every day. Our routines, our habits, our daily choices. Often easier said than done.
I love summer schedule. I am just as excited about the last day of school as my son. But by the end of this past summer, I was ready for school to start back. I was ready for more routine because I had completely fallen out of what works for me to be my best. I had let the slow of summer turn into complacency. Instead of cooking dinner, we ate out or ordered out all the time. All that boat and pool time turned into less exercise and more fruity cocktails. Evening porch sitting turned into going to bed too late and not getting enough sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy every minute of it but I could have enjoyed summer more if I felt better. By summer’s end, I had gained some weight and just overall did not feel good. In retrospect, my productivity and motivation faltered along the way too. I used the start of school to be my reset button.
As women and moms, we often feel like we are constantly doing for others and that occupies all of our time. Doing for our kids, our spouse, our job, the PTO, a sick friend, and the list goes on and on. I love doing for others, especially my husband and son. I love them both so big and it brings me so much joy to do for them. But I can’t show them my best love unless I have loved myself first. And I want to be my best for them at all times. So I knew I had to revamp the way I was living each day.
First, I wanted to get back to eating healthier. It would help me drop a few pounds and make me feel better overall. This is where meal planning comes into the picture. I had let my meal planning go during the summer because I had told myself we had plenty of time each day and I didn’t need to do it. It is super hard to eat healthy if you don’t have the right foods in the fridge. Eating healthy is not cheap and I find that meal planning makes me eat better and lowers my grocery bill. I sit down on Saturday and meal plan for the entire week ahead. (Eating Well has some wonderful full week and even 30 day meal plan ideas with easy recipes.) From the meal plan and related recipes, I make a grocery list and then order everything online. I pick it up on Sunday after church and organize it as soon as we get home and I am set for the week! The old saying “you are what you eat” is so true! It has been almost one month since school started and I am down 6 pounds and having so much fun cooking lots of new recipes each evening! Which has in turn created better family time and meal time together.
Second, exercise is so important. Whether you like barre or running, exercise is essential in self care. My husband and I walk (briskly) 3 miles together each morning and a few days a week I go for a short run. It makes such a difference in how I feel and sets the pace for the day.
Third, we all need a little me time each day. This is probably the hardest one because we feel guilty if we stop for ourselves. Don’t feel guilty about this! You have to stop your car and refuel it or else it won’t keep running! Think the same way about yourself. I like to have my me time in the morning. Coffee, my devotional and journal, and my planner. It truly gets my head and heart set for the day which motivates me to plan out a great and productive day. I have never been a morning person but I enjoy my morning time so much now that I actually get right out of bed. I never thought I would look forward to getting up early. I even wake up early on Saturdays now.
Fourth, take a shower. Now this one may be the hardest if you have little ones. I get it. And we all are going to have days where we stay in Lululemon all day. That’s okay too. But I have found that the days where I just stay in my workout clothes always turn out to be the least productive. When I left corporate America, the only thing I missed (besides SOME of the people), was getting dressed up! A dress and heels and a little make-up can really make you feel better about yourself. I don’t get that dressed up anymore, it’s more like jeans and a cute top and comfy flats for the office but I feel so much better about myself when I don’t go about my days in yoga pants and greasy hair.
Lastly, get enough sleep! Some people can thrive on 5-6 hours a night. I need the true 7-8 hours. I get up at 6:00 so I am lights out between 10:00 and 11:00. I am normally on my way to bed about 9:00 so I have time to decompress before I actually try to fall asleep. Sometimes I will unwind with a hot bath but I typically just like to get in bed and read for a bit. I wasn’t much of a reader when I was younger but I sure do love a good book these days. I hardly ever watch TV besides the news being on while I cook dinner. There are lots of good shows but I feel like they begin to consume my evenings rather than things that matter.
Self care is a daily choice for long term happiness and health. Finding a routine that works for you is key! Bad habits and bad routines are hard to break. It truly is a commitment to create a new routine and stick to it! What are your priorities and goals? Make a list and let them guide you in creating your new routine. And don’t be afraid to commit to putting yourself first! Love yourself big and you will love those around you better!