Last year my husband started a new job, so he travels a lot. A schedule with consecutive weeks of solo parenthood has taken its toll on me. While I try to keep my head above water and try to arrange everything for everyone, my own needs come second. When that happens, I become exhausted and grumpy – and that is not good for anyone.
The truth is that if I don’t take good care of myself, I can’t take good care of others. To prevent me from getting completely burned out, I have come up with a number of intentions. My goal is to keep my battery full so that I can tackle life (and motherhood) full of energy.
1. I am going to make time for myself
And I’m not going to apologize for this.
As a mother, it’s all too easy to have to do everything all the time. I should always go on. I should plan more activities. I shouldn’t have to pay a babysitter so I can go to Starbucks for coffee. The problem with all that “having to” is that it makes you feel bad.
This year, I’m giving myself permission to demand time for myself. I know it takes me a couple of hours a week to stick to my senses, and I’m not going to feel bad about that.
2. I’m going to take care of my body
I kicked off the year with a 15km marathon and also signed up for my first triathlon in June. I’m not an athlete (not by far), so the training won’t be easy. But sweating a few times and increasing my heart rate will do wonders for my mood.
In the famous words of Elle Woods: “Sport gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don’t kill their husbands.”
3. I’m going to accept help
I’m not very good at asking for help that I do need. I have the same “I want to do it myself” mentality as my 3 year old daughter, but this often makes me feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
So if someone offers to cook for me after I’ve taken care of the kids for three nights on my own, I’m going to say yes wholeheartedly.
4. I’m going to take care of my mind
I’m going to read one book a month. I love to read, but to be honest, I haven’t done it much since I became a mother. It doesn’t have to be intellectual literature, just a good story that I can totally immerse myself in for a few hours.
5. I’m going to be nicer to myself
Scrolling through Instagram can easily make me feel like I’m not thin or fashionable enough. Pinterest can lead to dissatisfaction with my little house and messy closets. Facebook makes me long for a vacation or a more successful career.
Social media is great for staying in touch, but less good for boosting satisfaction. I’m going to be nicer to myself by appreciating what I have more and spending less time on social media.
6. I’m going to prioritise friendships
When you have young children, it’s all too easy to neglect friendships. “They understand,” I reason. “I’m sure they’re busy, too.” That may be true, but maintaining contacts also gives you so much energy.
Every week I get in touch with a friend, whether it’s through an app, e-mail or cup of coffee. Just to ask them how they are doing and to let them know that I am thinking about them.
7. I am going to make room for my passions
I love writing. It makes me understand my feelings and record my memories. But it doesn’t make sure the bills are paid, the laundry is folded, the house stays clean, and the children are taken to school – so it is often at the bottom of my list of priorities.
I know I can’t put it at the top of the list, but I can free up time to write every week. And that’s what I’m going to do.