I am more than tired – I'm mothering on empty, a bowl scoured clean; a fire burned to ashes. And yet there's still more to do.
Then, of course, I get a cold and wind up having to back out of commitments and rest as best I can just in order to do the basic tasks of taking care of a family. It becomes obvious that it is time to look inward and find a way to care for myself in the midst of this unending job.
Have you been there too? At that point when you finally crack open and see that you MUST take care of yourself?
You Deserve Care
If you say to yourself, “I deserve loving care.” How does that sit with you? Do you feel like you deserve to be cared for?
When you care for others without taking care of yourself, you will eventually crumble from the strain. No soup can be served from an empty vessel. We lose our ability to nurture others when we do not nurture ourselves. It shouldn't take illness or mental break down to get to this point. We all, each of us, deserve loving care.
That's me in the photo – four years old. You were four years old once too. Small and vulnerable, needing care.
Do you have a photo of yourself as a child? Get it out and take a look at that little one.
Doesn't she or he deserve your care and love?
That four year old is still with you, and you are the only person who knows just what they need. It is up to you to take care of yourself. For many of us it is surprisingly uncomfortable. You deserve care. And YOU are the person who must care for yourself.
When you can give yourself loving kindness you can refill your reserves, heal your emptiness, and by that, be able to continue caring for others, as I know you do.
Three ways to nurture yourself when you're running on empty:
For today…and I hope for tomorrow and the next day and the next….
Stop your mean internal monologues.
When you start berating yourself, think about that four year old. Would you talk to her that way? Would she learn anything from her mistakes if you called her stupid or worthless? How could you speak more gently to yourself? If you wish to teach your children kindness, perhaps you can start by discovering how to speak kindly to yourself.
If you find yourself in a funk that's very hard to get out of, one friend suggested something that I find helpful:
Do 10 minutes of something useful like washing dishes or folding laundry, then do 10 minutes of something for yourself, this might be enough to break the chain of self depreciating thoughts.
Which brings me to the next point-
Make your mini-care list
Find a few things that nurture your soul that you can do even in busy times. These are little things you can do for yourself anytime and they're especially good to do on days when you feel down.
- Taking a look at your Self-care Bookshelf – here are my favorite books to turn to when I'm feeling sick of parenting.
- Making yourself a cup of tea,
- Stepping outside briefly,
- Turning on music you love,
- Calling a friend,
- Eating a healthy snack,
- Putting lotion on
They're not giant change-the-world activities, but are meant instead to remind you to be gentle with yourself as you take the next step forward. What are the small actions that tell you that you are loved and you are valuable?
Stop the comparisons
You can probably think of enough self improvement projects to fill a lifetime. Taking care of yourself means that you can gently acknowledge where you are right now, and know you can move forward from here. You don't have to “fix” everything all at once.
You are the only one who knows how far you have come and the challenges you've faced along the way, and you do not have to compare yourself to anybody else. We say we want to raise life long learners, but I think we forget what it means to BE a life long learner. We learn from mistakes; it isn't always a comfortable process.
You still have the child inside. You have her ability to grow and become better, and you have so much more experience now to tell yourself where you want to go from here. You can be gentle with yourself because you hold the potential for growth. You are a work in progress.
When I need to remember how to go on when I feel broken, I often find hope in the articles Finding Joy. Rachel's authenticity will help you see the beauty in the work of mothering.
You need care, but no longer can you hope to have a hand of a parent provide for you. The four year old has been given into your own care. Are you providing for yourself? Can you believe that you deserve the kind of love that you give to your children? Can you give that kindness to yourself?
Know you are deserving of care.
Can you list three ways to nurture your soul? I think we could all use more ideas. What will you do to take care of yourself in this busy time in your life?
- Parenting from the Dark Pit
- 20 Journal Prompts on Nurturing YOU This Year
- The Joyful Parenting Habit that Shifts EVERYTHING
If you're wanting to feel better and more present, my friend Shawn of the Abundant Mama Project teaches of the Abundant Mama course – a four week experience to help you become a more centered, peaceful, playful and present mama or papa. I’m an affiliate because I strongly believe in her work and the positive changes she helps parents enact. If you want to be present, to enjoy now, but don’t quite know how with all the chaos of this time in life, her project may really appeal to you. Sign up for the upcoming free class and fill your cup. ~Alissa