Self Care 101

Self-care.

My doctor once told me I needed to ‘Get my shit together’ if I wanted to stop feeling like a hot mess.  True story. She prescribed self-care. She said ‘If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else’.

It reminded me of Aiden’s Kindergarten teacher telling him that you should love yourself more than you love anyone else. I admitted to Aiden that like most moms, I love him and his brother more than I love myself. It’s the way I’m wired. I’m used to putting others ahead of myself.  I worry about others over myself (when I really shouldn’t) and I put other people’s needs ahead of my own. It’s the reason I know I’d struggle on an airplane in an emergency because I wouldn’t want to put my own safety mask on first. It would seem selfish of me to do that, but it’s not. It’s self-care. I need to learn to better take care of ME.

So that’s my mission. Self-care. Now, how does one do this? I did what most would do and I turned to google for some ideas. Which was terrifying as it turns out what some consider self-care, I would consider torture. I had to come up with some ideas on my own:

Dance. I love to dance. I dance while I straighten my hair, while I cook supper, while I clean my floors. Even when I’m driving, I don’t stop moving. My living room floor becomes my makeshift dance floor daily as me and Camryn shake what our momma’s gave us from one corner to the other. I miss Zumba. For 3.5 years it was a huge stress reliever for me. I could shake my hips in a gym full of strangers like I was drunk on a dance floor on George Street and I didn’t care. I need to go back. No excuses. Find a sitter- go to Zumba once a week and release my inner JLO.

Walk.  It’s honestly free therapy for me. I try to get out for a walk every day but it’s not possible where I always have the kids (and let’s be honest, walking with them is far from therapeutic). So my new goal is to walk alone 4 times a week. Even with my broken toe. I’m not gonna let displaced bones stop me from self-care, now am I?

Exercise. I am one of those weird crazies who loves to exercise. I don’t do it because I have to, I do it because I want to. I enjoy it. Sadly, the last few months kinda messed with my routine but I need to get back at it as I miss it and I actually feel different when I’m not doing it. The one thing I’ve remained committed to are my evening leg lifts (my god, it’s no wonder I have no life). I do 150-200 leg lifts every night before bed (ask my sisters, they can attest to this fact. I really AM the life of the party, bitches). I don’t see any abs but I swear to god I feel something. Maybe it’s my hip bone, I’m not sure. But either way, it’s like me and JLO are the same person.

TV: I realized that for me, other simpler ways to self-care include reading (which I don’t do enough of because apparently I’ve become too lazy) and even though I hate to admit this, watching TV. Judge away, Mama loves her screen time. There’s nothing better than being in my lounge clothes (and no socks, I HATE socks), curling up on the couch with my blanket, remote in one hand and large ass spoon full of peanut butter in the other. My guilty pleasures are dramas that make me cry so hard I want to vomit (sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?), or comedies that make me laugh so hard I snort (better than peeing?!). Nothing beats a good belly laugh.

Writing: I love to write. Writing this blog helps me take care of me. It’s like a journal, only I post it publicly for the world (okay fine, for my 13 followers and my close friends on FB) to read. I wish I did more of it. Scrap that, I WILL do more of it. I used to have a goal to write a book. Maybe I’ll get started on that…….

Friends. Anything that makes me feel like Sonya and not Mommy is a form of self-care. Like hanging with or sometimes just chatting with friends. A movie, supper, a drink, a walk, or even just texting with a friend can build my spirits.  It almost always leads to laughing, which I am all for. I crack myself up too, which helps. That makes me less like JLo and more like Amy Schumer (minus the crude profanity of course).

Bath: I never understood why people would sit in water, just sit, and find it relaxing. What do you do? Where do you put your hands? What do you look at? I hate when my skin starts to shrivel up like prunes. It doesn’t seem enjoyable BUT I thought I’d give it a shot. I either read a book (which always ends up in the water) or listen to music to just drown out the noise (literally, so I can’t hear the kids) and wind up being afraid my phone or headphones will also fall in the water and I’ll get electrocuted. This isn’t self-care. Scrap bath, it’s being removed from my list. LOL

Spa days:  Massages, manicures, pedicures…..I LOVE going to the Spa! I just don’t have the money for it on a regular basis. But its okay, what I do is put on a robe and have my kids brush my hair for 3 minutes, or I pretend I have a scratch on my back and they have to find it and it’s almost the same as being at the Spa. It’s all about improvising peeps, all about improvising.

Wal-Mart: You read that right. Walmart. Sometimes just a trip to Walmart (or Sobeys, or Shoppers Drug Mart) ALONE is self-care. I’m dead serious, if you ever see me standing in Aisle 7 just smiling, please don’t interrupt my moment. I’m soaking it all in because guess what? I don’t get to do that often enough. I’m rarely alone. Sometimes when I’m in line at Walmart I let everyone go ahead of me just to prolong the experience. People think I’m just nice but the truth is I’m not ready to go home 😉

Back in October I did one thing for myself that was very much self-care. I did something that I always wanted to do. I got my nose pierced. It was very empowering. My sister held my hand, looking as proud of me as I think she would have been had I been delivering a baby. I came to find out that I was actually holding her up as she was weak and nauseated at the sight of the needle that was going to be stuck through my nose.  The ring lasted 6 weeks. Turns out I’m also lazy at cleaning it (who has time to soak your nose for 5 mins, twice a day, I mean COME ON!?) so it didn’t heal properly and started looking more like a cold sore on my face than a nose stud so I took it out. I will be honest, I almost cried when it was removed as I felt like the independence I was showing off to the world was stripped away. But that was just in my head. It was just a nose ring. I’m still empowered. I have the scar to prove it.

So, I do know how to self-care, I just have to DO IT. I have to make more of an effort. I have to ask for help or hire a babysitter to make sure I do it. Because Doc was right, if I don’t take of ME, I’m no good to anyone else.

And if I don’t take care of me, then who will?

Sure as hell won’t be JLO.

 

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Trailer

Do you ever go to a movie and it winds up being nothing like you thought it’d be? The trailer led you to believe that the story was a comedy but there was nothing funny about it? The characters weren’t relatable and overall it just wasn’t what you expected? In some ways, that’s how I find parenting. I’m the lead actress and, unfortunately, in addition to not looking like Julia Roberts, it feels like the chances of a Golden Globe nomination are slim to none.

I had my parenting style figured out long before I had kids. That’s how naïve I was. For example, I would see a kid in the doctor’s office watching an ipad while waiting to be called in and I’d think ‘not a chance’ will that be my child. In my head, my child would sit patiently waiting, practicing his alphabet. He also wouldn’t consider picking the healthy snack I brought for him off the dirty floor and putting it in his mouth. I’d be well rested (because my kid would sleep through the night, he had no choice), wearing clothes that didn’t have any stains or boogers on it, and I would smile at my child with nothing but admiration and pride. It was the best trailer I’d ever seen.

What I didn’t see in that waiting room was the mother. The woman sitting there trying her best not to either lose patience or cry, all the while hoping the ipad had enough battery to keep her child distracted to get her through a wait time that seemed endless when it was really only 7 minutes. She was wondering if anyone noticed how tired she looked. How she hadn’t been sleeping and was stressed to the max. Her lunch today had been a half-eaten piece of toast so she found herself eyeing a cheesie on the floor, wondering if the 5 second rule really was a thing. More than anything, she was wondering if she was doing a good enough job. Because most days she felt like she was failing. Was she the only mother who felt that way? This was the real movie, and it was nothing like the preview.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hard on myself. I don’t give myself enough credit in many aspects of my life. When it comes to parenting, I feel like I could be doing better. Or that others do it better than me or would handle the situations I’m dealing with with my kids better than I do. There are some days, the hard days, when I wonder if I was really cut out for this.

Sadly, I’ve said this out loud in front of my kids, “I’m not cut out for this”. When I get overwhelmed and my small home feels like 4 walls of anger, tears and attitude I feel a loss of control. This isn’t how things were supposed to be, I tell myself. When things aren’t going as planned, when one kid is lashing out in anger and the other kid is smacking too hard or saying bad words or not listening, I blame myself. I’m not doing this right. This is my fault. If I was better, they’d be better. I’m not cut out for this.

Deep down, I feel that in many ways I’m not the mom I thought I’d be. Not all the time anyways. I thought it’d be easier, or different. Parenting. My kids. My life. What I hadn’t anticipated was suffering from post-partem depression, which in many ways changed me. What I also hadn’t anticipated was having my life turned upside down. Or suffering from anxiety. Anxiety that presents itself as rage (that sadly only my children get to witness). So when my child is lashing out and hurling insults at me or his brother, it takes everything in me not to do the very thing I’m telling him not to do- lash out and say things he can’t take back. After all, I want to lead by example. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. And it’s when I lose, the guilt sets in.

Then there are times when the guilt is replaced by pride. I am reminded that I’m doing a damn good job. For example, when my kids say something I know they learned from me. Aiden told his brother the other day to stop touching him. Camryn wouldn’t, of course, as it’s much more fun to pester than it is to listen. Aiden said ‘When someone asks you to stop, you stop. Learn that early”. It was me, word for word from his mouth. Or when he lost his cool over something ridiculous and finally calmed down and said “I’m not perfect, but I promise you I’m doing the best I can’. Also my words, now his. Or when they see me cry and they stop what they are doing, one strokes my back and the other curls in a ball in my lap, and they tell me they love me.

Or how about at parent teacher interview when I was looking through Camryn’s Kindergarten workbook and there was one page that literally made me drop the book like it was on fire and start crying. It simply said, ‘Peace is My mom’. He had drawn a picture of me (or maybe it was Julia Roberts, I’m not really sure) but I cried so hard because I didn’t see myself as peace. I didn’t feel peace because I was too busy judging myself too harshly for being human.

It was then I realized that maybe I’m not failing. That maybe I should try seeing in myself what other people see.

Because maybe, just maybe, I was cut out for this after all.

peace