I am seriously excited about it. I love chatting with parents about life and kiddos and how they get it all done. It seems, lately, I've been hearing more and more sighs of exasperation, more looks of defeat, more frustration from moms and dads. I think it would be great if more parents had someone on their team that is not judging, not advice-giving… but helping them to see that THEY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES (and more)! God knew what He was doing when He gave you those kids—and you got this.
One of the basic things I've been exploring in my training is self-care. In fact, we talk about it as extreme self-care. The idea is not new (I don’t think): If you take care of yourself, you will be better for those around you. If you are rested, recharged, and ready—you will be a better mom, dad, spouse, employee, friend. The whole idea is absolutely counter-intuitive to what the demands of parenting are about.
Let’s be honest. Kids are NEED MACHINES. When they are newborns, their needs can be overwhelming. Feeding, changing, finding that perfect position, temperature control… they need you for all of it. You’d think, when they can pour their own cereal, go to the bathroom on their own, and put on their own sweater; maybe they would need you a little less. Oh, no! Now they need you for a whole new range of things. My 6-year-old now needs me to spell out words for him. All. The. Time. It doesn't matter where we are. In the car, at the store, on the couch, at the park—“Mom, how do you spell…?“ --All day long. It’s surprisingly exhausting. He does a lot of things for himself, but—wow—the new things that he’s learning and discovering are bombarding my world.
So, in a world that’s constantly changing, where do we find the extra energy to care for ourselves? Where can we find those small burst of energy to invest in ourselves, so that we can keep going forward, not just surviving, but really loving this life that we've been given?
Let me tell you what I’m working on. (These are things that work for MY self-care, not necessarily anyone else’s)
· I've learned that my days are better when I am up before my kids. Even if it’s a few minutes. I am less crabby when they come bounding down the hall with their ridiculous amounts of energy if my eyes are already opened. It’s even better if I’m already holding cup of coffee #1.
· I need to read Scripture every day. I don’t have to. I’m not supposed to. I need to. It has changed me. I lived a long time (embarrassingly, as a church leader), without this practice. I don’t want to go back there. When I am in Scripture daily, I am setting my heart where it needs to be. I am reminded of my identity and where I belong in this crazy world. I can move on with my day, resting in God’s promises.
· I’m making healthier choices. I won’t get into my long and sorted history with diets, non-diets, health clubs, and general shame-filled feelings about myself. I am learning to be more gentle with myself and give myself some grace. One little healthy step at a time. With no pressure and not guilt. It feels good, so far. More on this later…
For now, those are my baby steps. I’m working on being protective of things that give me energy and fill my heart. I know that I am a better mom, wife and friend when I am not exhausted, irritated and consumed by my own selfishness.
What fills up your heart? What gives you energy? (No really, I’d love to know.)
What are the big challenges for you, when you think about self-care?
Who can help you make a plan for your extreme self-care?
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.