As parents Robert and I have learned that we are no longer the priority. We have a little one now whose needs and well being trump any of our desires. However that does not mean we do not get to take some time for self care. We are in better moods and usually have more energy because we feel better physically after we take some time to take care of ourselves in some way, shape, or form. Self care does not make you a selfish parent it makes you a good one!
When I first became a mom all previous thoughts about how I was going to still manage to run tons of miles each week quickly went out the window. For example, I had planned on running the Rock n Roll Nashville marathon last spring. Although I did manage to get most of my long runs completed, my training was not what it should have been (see Undertrained- but that’s okay). After about 8 miles into the race I decided to drop to the half. I missed my daughter I realized that not only would I be running for another 3ish hours if I did the full, but then by the time I got through the post race cool down and recovery, walked to the car, and got back to her in Chattanooga it would probably give me an hour or two with her before she went to sleep because of the time difference. I already had missed her morning wake up. I’m a stay at home mom. My job is to take care of Ellie. It’s what I do everyday. Although she was 100% cared for at the time by both her Gigi and Mimi, I felt a sadness come over me. My daughter is constantly learning, exploring, and growing- what might I miss in that day away from her? I also felt a TON of guilt for being away from her. It isn’t like Robert going to work each day- that is something he NEEDS to do in order to provide for our family. This was something I had chosen that made me have to be away from my daughter. What kind of a mother does that?
Needless to say the last few miles of the race and the drive home from Nashville made me quite reflective. For a few weeks after I barely ran at all. Slowly though Ellie and I began to make progress on running together with the stroller (see 6 Months of Stroller Strides) which helped me get back into some sort of regular running routine. I also realized that the guilt I had experienced was not fair to myself. I sort of thought that eventually Ellie would just be ready to run tons of miles with me each day. Little did I know as she continues to grow there isn’t a magical switch that gets flipped that makes it any easier. We have just learned ways to make getting mileage in each day more manageable and enjoyable for both of us. For example, the house is usually a hot mess whenever we leave because I like to ensure she has had an ample amount of playtime before she has to sit in the car and stroller for a bit. That’s okay though. It gets straightened up later and we are just going to keep playing when we get back home so what does it really matter?
The main reason I am getting in more miles recently is less about Ellie and more about me. (Even typing that sentence makes my stomach cringe a little. What will people think of me as a mother for saying that something is more about ME than my child?) I have learned that I am a much better mother and wife when I get consistent mileage in every week. I have more energy, more patience, and I am simply more at peace because I have allowed myself some restorative time in nature. It does not always mean a run. Sometimes it is throwing Ellie in the hiking back pack and going for a walk in the woods. Other times it is simply putting her in her little red wagon and going for a walk around the block to let us both get some fresh air. We both thrive in nature and usually when one of us gets cranky it is an easy fix to our mood.
I have come to terms that self care is vital to parenthood. As much as I would do anything for my daughter, doing things for myself is important too. Maintaining my own identity besides being a mother and wife is vital to my mental well being. I think this is important for anyone, but especially for stay at home moms. Self care does not always mean exercise and it does not mean that I do everything I want for me each day. To me it means not feeling guilty about doing SOMETHING for me each day though. Most of the time it is going for a run in the stroller although Ellie enjoys going on adventures around Chattanooga and now that she is bigger I usually try to make mini field trips out of most of them so it is fun for her, too. Sometimes it is sitting on my bed during nap time and working on a Sudoku, reading a book, or just watching part of a chick flick on the Amazon Prime app on my phone. It can also be doing a DIY project with my Cricut downstairs. Sometimes it is working on a lesson plan for my Teachers Pay Teachers store because I still have so many ideas for teaching social studies that I want someone to be able to implement in a classroom. I haven’t written in forever (I know everyone has been dying for a new post), but it feels great to be doing so now. Not every chore will get done. Luckily for me I have a husband who encourages me to take care of my emotional well being instead of cleaning every inch of the house. Usually I still have the time to get everything done, but on the weeks that I don’t I have accepted that it is okay.
Self care is vital and it does not make you selfish. I do not get to do everything, but if I get to do one thing for me it makes a huge difference in my day. Take some time for you today and do not feel guilty about it. Encourage the people in your life to do the same. We all need some self care and sometimes that means utilizing the other people in your life to get things done. Robert and I have learned that we have to be more of a team now than ever in order to manage our household and still work toward individual goals. However valuing my own self care has made me realize that I need to ensure Robert has time for his own as well, which has made me more willing to do whatever I can to let him get in a run or some time in the garage on the weekends to do whatever he wants/needs for him. It’s a delicate balance, but as #TeamMcMILEan the three of us are slowly but surely figuring out how to make it work.
I will leave you with this: How are you going to practice some self care today? Let me know in the comments.