Self care makes childcare easier

creating a nourishing self-care practice ~SimpleHomeschool
The following is a guest post written by Kassandra Brown of Parentcoaching.org.

I open my eyes and feel two little bodies snuggled up against me. The pull to stay under the covers is strong especially since I know the chill I’ll feel going downstairs to the cold woodstove and unheated room.

But after a couple of breaths I quietly slip out from under the covers, careful not to awaken my girls. I nudge my husband and he drowsily rolls over to sleep in-between the girls for the next couple of hours. I slide into layers of pants, sweaters, socks, coat and boots then walk outside to take my first deep breaths of the day. Why?

I know that if I go and stand on the land and greet the sunrise I will have that anchoring with me the rest of the day. When I skip my morning practice too many days in a row, I start to get irritable, grumpy, short-tempered, and off-balance. I lose my perspective and start taking my children’s complaints personally.

Do you think a self-care practice could be right for you?

Tips For Self-Care

1. What nourishes you?

Ask yourself what you like to do, what you feel good when you do, and what you’d like to do more often. Avoid things you’re doing for other people. Trust yourself.

  • Tip: Brainstorm on possible self-care practices. Write them down. Paint them. Journal. Dictate them into the voice recorder on your smart phone on the way to the grocery store. The medium doesn’t matter. Giving yourself time to think about what you need does.

2. Get help.

You may not know what nourishes you. You may want to try something you don’t already know how to do. Asking for help is a great idea. At parentcoaching.org I often help parents learn self-care including radical honesty, reflective listening, yoga and meditation. We also work through any negative beliefs around taking time for self-care.

  • Tip: Think of three things you’d like to do that you don’t already know how to do. Learning piano, taking voice lessons, and learning to draw are three things that I’d like to do. What would you like to learn?

3. Try it out.

Now that you have some ideas for your self-care, start trying them out. Be playful. Find what works for you.

  • Tip: Try one thing for three days and then go to the next thing on your list. Or try mixing a few things in the same day. For me, I love to greet the sunrise, journal, and do some yoga. My resilience, creativity, and compassion are better with all three of these and decrease with each practice I drop.

preschool 4th of july575

4. Invite the kids.

As homeschooling parents, our kids are around more often. The good news is that they can benefit from learning self-care practices from you. Sometimes you’ll want to be by yourself, but sometimes invite one child at a time to join you.

  • Tip: If you’re feeling brave, you can invite all your kids in to share your special time and then you’ll have special family time. This does not take the place of self-care that we do alone. Please don’t try to substitute one for the other.

5. Give up your practice.

The real proof on whether it’s worth it to have your own self-care time? Give it up. If you’re just as happy, just as productive, just as capable, and just as nice to be around without your personal practices, then maybe you don’t need them. But otherwise, overcome your own resistance to change and make self-care part of your daily or at least weekly life.

  • Tip: Self-care is OK to do even if you just like doing it and can’t point to any tangible benefits to others. You can take back your practices just because you want to.

Many parents have a hard time taking care of themselves because they feel selfish. We’re taught that it’s good to take care of others, but that it’s selfish to take care of ourselves.

Personal self-care practices challenge that belief and I’m going to challenge it further. What if taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give your children? What if you parented from your own joy of being with your children rather than through guilt or responsibility or a fear of what will happen to your kids if you don’t?

Self-care practices give you the inner energy and resilience to do what you love and to love what you do. Just think how wonderful it would be to be parented by someone who really wants to be with you and loves the time they spend with you.

Now contrast that to the feeling of being parented by someone who is overworked, stressed out, and would like to be somewhere else: Which feels better to you? Which would you choose for your own children?

Do you need to make self-care more of a priority? What’s stopping you?

About Kassandra Brown

Kassandra Brown is a homeschooling mompreneur at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. She loves helping parents with self-care, parenting, and relationships at parentcoaching.org.

Comments

  1. I definitely have the need for “self care”. As an introverted homeschooler, being with these wonderful little people 24/7 absolutely drains me. I am blessed to have a husband who understands this and usually lets me have one night off during the week, during which I recharge alone. I also try to get up an hour before everyone, so I can have a little quiet time to start my day.
    Paula’s latest post: What’cha Readin’?

  2. Great tips. I definitely need to remember to take time to replenish myself before I’m in survival mode–not after.
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Motherhood: Grace and Work

    • I enjoy my day more when I take time before I melt-down rather than after. Recently I’ve begun using awareness of when I go into survival mode (or have gone past it into grumpy-sad-angry mode) as a reminder to stop and do some bit of my self care (usually journaling to listen to myself and offer compassion). For years I would just beat myself up when I ‘lost it’ and resolve to do better. Now my loses are becoming gains in self awareness and reminders that I need more compassion rather than more judgment. Thank you for reminding me of that.
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  3. I’m not much of a yoga person, but I love getting up before the family and reading, praying. I have an app that gives an audio version of my daily scripture readings, and I enjoy listening to the days readings while I watch the sun rise over the lake behind our house.
    sarah’s latest post: February “Twitterature” and Assorted Updates

  4. thank you for this post! moms cant be reminded enough to take care of themselves. it’s so easy to let it fall by the wayside. I’m all too familiar with that myself… I’ve recently started getting up early to workout and it makes my day go a million times better. if nothing else I know I’ve done something productive and restoring for myself and my own mental state and it makes those not so great days so much more manageable. thanks again:)
    Brigid | naturally attached blog’s latest post: what we ate: hummus, avocado, beans & tomato on toast

  5. About 3 years ago, I discovered a love of running. Now, I get up and get my miles in for the day about 5 a.m. Many of my friends think I’m crazy to start every day this way, but it really does make my whole day better. I have that time to reflect, sort and organize in my mind, and come home with a “runner’s high” that last through whatever frustrations I have to face during the day.
    Sometimes I feel guilty for prioritizing my running, but I remember that everyone’s happier when mom isn’t depressed, snarling and irritable. Your post gives some good tips for finding whatever self-care is right for you. Thanks.
    Jen @ anothergranolamom’s latest post: Why I Believe in Dessert

  6. In the wintertime I go crazy without being able to take my walks. It’s just cold out there. I guess I haven’t built up a toughness to it this year.
    Sis’s latest post: Always Wanted to be a Gypsy, Love Their Music

    • I struggled a lot with the change in weather this year. The longer dark and the colder mornings made it hard. That’s one reason I wrote this post. For you, I’m curious what other things may be going on for you that are making your morning walks harder? I’m happy to talk with you and see what we can come up with. Knowing that there are other people out there prioritizing their quiet alone time may help. Lots of layers and snow pants help too :-)
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  7. I get up first everyday and pray.I also take time during the day to crosstitch. Its hard to make time with a 1 year old and a 6 year old but it is so needed.

    • When you say that it’s hard with a one year old and a six year old, I immediately agree with you. Then I find myself wondering why it’s hard? When I have a hard time taking time for myself, it’s often because I’m not valuing it as highly as I value my service to other or more tangible accomplishments. Does that sound true for you?
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  8. This is such a great post… Our youngest child is three and I am starting to reclaim myself… one little change at a time this year. We are talking basics here… after years of appalling sleep habits woken by little people two hourly… this month I reclaimed sleep – Oh my goodness… off to bed earlier, afternoon naps – I took them!!! And we were all so much better for it!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Se7en + 1 Things My Homeschool Kids Don’t Know About Their Teacher…

  9. Ah! This is soooo good. I have no idea what my self care should be yet, but ho. li. NESS I need some.

    • What inspires you? What feeds you? What’s one small thing you could do? I once got advice that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. At first that sounded awful to me (I’m supposed to do everything well, aren’t I?) but then I realized that if I allow myself to make mistakes, try and fail and try something different, then I can learn. Perhaps that approach will serve you as you discover what self care looks like for you?
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  10. Great article. A good reminder for me. I am a ‘shocker’ for lack of self care and really struggle with taking any time for myself, until I end up in a heap. It’s clear to me I need to tackle this issue, and feel comfortable within to do so.

    • I’m so glad that you’re getting inspired to take more time for yourself. It might be helpful to ask yourself if there are any benefits you get from going until you ‘end up in a heap’? For me, when I start to understand the motivations behind my behaviors, it makes it so much easier to change them. Rather than a great effort of self-will and a sense of struggle, changes start to flow with ease and to stick around longer.
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  11. I recently realized that I had let go a passion of mine that was life before kids: being outdoors a lot. I used to do a lot of outdoors things- hiking and some outrips and the like but then it all got lost. I would think about it and then I would think I couldn’t do it anymore. Yes it does look different than it did before but I can still get similar effects by being outdoors being active and breathing the air and being outside. For me this is best done in as natural of a setting as I can get to even if its just the local park. I find this really rejuvenates me even if its done as a family. I find it helps all of us. When I feel like I am going crazy, I go outside. If that’s not possible at all, I open the door and take some breaths.

  12. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, which means we have to love ourselves in order to love our neighbors. A priest told me that once. I had forgotten about it until I read this today. That’s what I need. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. My biggest obstacle is finding self-care time. I have a 5mo and 6yo (and I homeschool). And my husband works until late at night. I have to squeeze me-time in when I can but I usually end up spending my free time cleaning or paying bills.

    • A friend of mine told me that it was vital for kids to have quiet time too. When your 5mo is napping, perhaps you and your 6yo could each take quiet time? Most likely your tendency is to spend that quality time with your older child who may be feeling left out now that a younger sibling is around. You might try a schedule of ‘every other day’ or ‘every other nap’ or MWF shared time and TRS each of you take alone time. What do you think would work for you? I’d be happy to brainstorm with you some more :-)
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  14. I was just telling my husband that I desperately need a “hobby” or something that gives me life apart from taking care of my family. The problem is, I have no clue what that is. Where does one start in figuring that out…?

    • Hi Cori – Great question! There are so many wonderful things you could do, how do you know what’s right for you? Sometimes it’s really helpful to sit down with someone who’s been through the process of figuring it out for themselves and talk it through. I’d be delighted to help you come up with some ideas.
      Kassandra Brown’s latest post: Meditation to Connect with the Land

  15. I love to have time alone to read a book and do pilates, though these times do not happen as often as I’d like!!!
    Debbye’s latest post: Is Your Baby or Toddler Napping Too Much?

  16. After 15 years of marriage (to a pilot) and 4 kids 12,9,7,3; I have completely lost myself! But nearly two years ago I did something completely just for me! It did not have anything to do with my family! So at least I now think of things I will do, someday!! Mornings sound great but I’m just not a morning person! And being an introvert with an extrovert husband and couple kids makes it all that much crazier!!!
    Thanks for the post! It made me think a bit this morning!!
    Danna’s latest post: A Day of Our Homeschooling Life!!

  17. I re-charge by taking a sabbath day, a day I set aside each week with nothing on the calendar but thoughts of relaxing and refreshment. I start after the kids are in bed Saturday night and it lasts 24 hours. I dont allow myself to do housework other than whats absolutely needed. So the fire gets taken care of but the dishes pile up. I try to ask myself what do I like to do, not what to I have to do. I make simple meals, sometimes even using paper plates. I dont check email or think about our bank account, or our schedule for the week. I can catch up on that stuff Sunday evening or Monday during the day when I am more rested and relaxed. I really look forward to it but it does take self discipline and I do feell sad when the Sabbath is over

  18. I have little ones at home, and they get up early (just like their daddy!) But I have taken to trying to wake 30-60 minutes before them to enjoy my coffee and my silence and my reflections. A few times a week I’ll use that early time for exercise. It makes me a better mom and ready to meet the day. Thank you for sharing this!
    Hillary’s latest post: Nature Inspires Wonder

  19. I so appreciated this post and your gentle questions in the comments. Self-care is an often misunderstood concept yet one that is vital to being able to really live not just exist.
    I went away last weekend on a personal retreat, my first ever, and it was so needed. I was very close to burn out. My husband and I have now worked an evening and afternoon out for me each week. Time to write (one of my things that I love) or read or be quiet. Its lovely and I can’t encourage it enough.
    Breanne’s latest post: What We’re Into: 2.22.2013 Edition

  20. We home school and work from home so my house is always full of noisy little ones (4 kids ages 6 and under) Since I can finally admit when I need a break, life for my whole family as been calmer. It is so true that the momma sets the mood of the house. My new therapy is crocheting. It is very calming. After a short session I feel mentally and physically renewed.
    I also just wanted to say “Hi” to Kassandra. We met your wonderful family during our visit to Dancing Rabbit. It is good to see you on here. I love this blog!
    Melissa Kruse’s latest post: Ice Fishing Trip with the kiddos

    • Kassandra Brown says:

      Hi Melissa,
      It’s great to hear from you again! I’m glad the crocheting works for you. I went through a phase when my older daughter was a baby. She would nap on my lap for 2-3 hours and I would crochet. I made two hats and two scarves before we moved on to a new phase. It helped my mind have something to focus on and also relax at the same time. Glad it’s good for you too.

  21. Bethany says:

    I have 5 kids Ages 1,3,5,9 and 12. I sort of broke down last year and a big part was completely neglecting self care. I now get up before my kids and hike the mountains in the early morning. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend. It’s wonderful. I love the exercise, the smell of sages and trees wet with dew or fog and the views are always breathtaking. It energizes me. I’m also taking Thursday afternoons off. I hired a babysitter from 12-4. I go eat by myself, do something I love, catch up on errands or schedule needed appointments without stressing about finding a sitter because I always have one that day. It has been amazing the difference it has made for me this year. I get the kids to where all they have to do on Thursday afternoons is stuff they can do without me or easily with the sitter. While this is an extra expense my husband and I both agreed it was worth it. Plus it’s cheaper than the counseling I was going to and has made me stable to no longer need counseling. I also live the 12-4 time. It gives me a meal preparing off. The sitter does lunch and I come back refreshed for dinner (which is usually something I’ve thrown In crockpot at breakfast so I can really enjoy kids and relax. I too thought it was selfish before. But after breaking down I now know it is essential to my health and well being.

    • Kassandra Brown says:

      Yea for Thursday afternoons and morning hikes! This is exactly the sort of thing that I love to hear about and advocate for. WTG Bethany :-)

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