Some of us might not have started the year focusing on this, but it’s never to late to start. We can definitely pick it up in February and combine it with February’s resolution.
In parenting everything starts with us! We have all heard that we cannot give what we don’t have, so we have to start by taking care of ourselves. Moms (and dads) tend to put themselves the last on their list of priorities. That needs to change! We need to start taking care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. We need to understand that self-care is not an option, it’s a must!
When we take better care of ourselves, we are more able to regulate our own emotions, which allows us to be better parents. What makes you feel rested, relaxed, energized, confident…? Pick 5-10 things and commit to do them as often as possible. I made a list of 10 things that I know will help me recharge:
1. SLEEP. Even though I know more about pediatric and adult sleep than most people I know, I am terrible at following my own advice. I rarely go to bed at a reasonable time (I somehow always manage to find something to do at 9pm), and I wake up early to get the girls ready for school. This combination leaves more tired and more cranky than I want to admit.
This month, I’ve promised myself that I would go to bed earlier, so I’ve set up an alarm on my iPhone to warm me I have 15 more minutes to do whatever I want to do before bed, and another one to remind me to drop what I’m doing and go to bed.
2. MEDITATION. I started practicing meditation this summer, as I was going through he toughest time of my life. I am no expert, but I found a way to do it that leaves me more focused, calm, peaceful and mindful. Unfortunately, because I don’t wake up in the morning until I absolutely need to, I haven’t been meditating before I start my day. Some days I do it in the middle of the morning when I come back from dropping the girls at school. And most days, I don’t get to it.
To make sure I get to it, I have set up my alarm clock early enough to give me at least 20 minutes to meditate in the morning before I start my day. My goal is not to use my friend, ‘snooze’ button; jump out of bed; wash my face with cold water; brush my teeth; drink a glass of water and meditate.
3. JOURNALING. I never believed that journaling would be something I would enjoy. However, it’s been one of the most useful tools I discover this summer. I guess writing down how I feel and how things affect me, helps me understand my triggers and pinpoint what makes me happy.
Unfortunately, I’m not as consistent as I’d like to, and tend to do it only when I’m struggling with something. I believe it’d be very therapeutic doing it every day, even if it’s just to drop a few lines.
4. GRATITUDE. This is a big one for me. Every day I make sure I write down at least 3 things I am grateful for. I think this allows me to appreciate more what’s going on in my life. I am naturally a rather negative person, so purposely focusing my energy in finding the good around me is a great exercise in sanity 🙂
5. Silence. This is the best way for me to recharge. Finding silence while being a full time, work from home mom can be really challenging. However, it’s life changing. I am an introvert and very sensitive to noise in general, especially constant loud noise; so silence is vital to me.
When I find the time to just be in silence, my whole body relaxes, my mind breathes and my batteries are recharged. The best place for me is in a hot bath, and I try to take one as often as I can, even if it’s just for 15 minutes or if it is 10pm. It just changes my mood and gives me serenity.
6. EXERCISE. Even though my brothers and my father are extreme athletes, and I’ve played tennis my whole live, I don’t love exercising. However, I know that when I do it regularly, I feel so much better.
In 2013 I set the goal of running my first half marathon. I had never been a runner in my life, but I put my mind to it, and I went from almost passing out after 2 minutes trotting to running the New York City Half Marathon. I never felt so well physically and mentally. There’s something about setting physical goals for myself and accomplishing then, that makes me feel very accomplished and strong. I have more energy to face my days and I am definitely a more playful and active mom. I love that feeling!
I kept on running regularly until I was 7 months pregnant with my third daughter. Since then, I never really picked it up again. We had so many changes in our lives, so many ups and downs, that I always found an excuse not to exercise. Well, no more! I’m going back to running, and getting into shape again. I have a treadmill in my basement, so I really have no excuse not to find at least 30 minutes a day to go for a run. My goal is to exercise 5 days a week, 3 of them running.
7. FOOD AND SUPPLEMENTS. This is a big one for me because I am an emotional eater. I try to shut down my emotions with food. When I do that, I obviously don’t go and grab an apple or broccoli, I go for my favorite salty treat or something that gives me a rush of sugar. Not the smartest decision, I know!
This year, I want to get back to a healthier weight, and a healthy diet. I know I need to reduce sugar and salt, and up my protein intake. Because of health issues, I also need to keep having my daily multivitamin, supplements, and prescription drugs. I know that when I skip this simple step, I quickly start feeling exhausted and out of balance, I have more headaches and less patience.
My goal is to be lose the extra pounds I put in this last year by the time I travel to Spain this summer.
8. MY LOVE. January is also a great time to reconnect with our spouses and make sure our relationships are prioritized. Our children will feel more secured and stable when they see their family is based on a good solid relationship between their parents (yes! this can also be done even when parents are separated or divorced).
Fortunately I live with my best friend, my husband. But as you know well, getting together with one’s spouse to just have a good time, talk about life, and be a couple is not easy. Every time we have the chance to have a date night, to go grab a coffee just the two of us, to work together or to just watch a movie holding hands, my heart fills and my whole demeanor changes.
When weeks go by and we can’t find the time to be together and connect as a couple, the whole family goes out of balance. Therefore, this year I want to make sure that I have date nights with my husband, at least once a month;
9. CLOSE FRIENDS. Because I am naturally an introvert I don’t have many close friends, I have many acquaintances and casual friends, but I can count my really close friends with the fingers of my two hands. These are people I can be 100% myself around and I know I won’t be judged, people who will always have my back, and people with whom I always have a great time.
Every time I meet with my closest friend, Maria, is as if time stood still. We can talk for hours about everything and nothing at the same time. We share the same values and we truly love each other. Spending time with her is better than therapy.
This year I want to make sure that I talk or FaceTime often with my close friends who are in California and Spain; and that I meet at least once a month with my friends who are in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
10. THERAPIST. Being from Spain, I was always surprised when so many of my American had a therapist. I guess the concept is a little bit different where I come from, and there’s a lot of judgement and stigma associated with going to a therapist and taking care of your mental health. It is not something people talk about, it’s a taboo. Well, my therapist has been instrumental for me over the past year, and I know going to see her has to be part of my self care plan.
These are my 10 self-care goals for 2018. What are yours? Is there anything you’d add to the list? Let me know!