As a mom and stepmom, I am constantly on the go, making sure everyone has what they need to get through the day. My brain has a perpetual list running and I mentally tick off my completed tasks as I move onto the next one. Recently, Alex, my partner, had to remind me to sit and Breathe. Normally, I try and make time for myself, but there are weeks that are busier than others. I forget, hit that wall of exhaustion and it knocks me on my a*s!
Last Friday, I went to a coaching summit and was the guinea pig on stage to be questioned about my self care habits within my whirlwind life. I was asked a very pointed question: What do you do for yourself now that you are divorced that you didn’t do while married? I had to stop and think because giving to myself does not come easy for me.
1. I gave up the guilt that I felt when someone tried to help me. During my marriage, I had to make sure everyone else was happy just to maintain peace in the house. If someone was upset, I had failed and I would hear about it. I over compensated in my giving to others to add extra padding to a stressful situation. After my divorce, if someone would try and help me, I would feel insanely guilty that I wasn’t able to handle everything and felt like a failure. Giving up the guilt and allowing another to show compassion for me and my situation helped me realize that I needed to show more compassion to myself on a daily basis.
2. I indulge in long hot showers. Instead of rushing before dropping my daughter at school to shower and get ready, I made time after to really take time and appreciate a moment completely for me and no one else. Pandora radio set to the Enya channel, a soft candle, and girly shampoo gave me time to connect and reflect as the shower gave me a micro massage. I felt special because I had taken the time to care. While married, my ex would not watch the baby so I could shower and I would go days without having the opportunity for self care. Or, I would have to bring the bassinet into the bathroom to take a quick 5-minute rinse. In the beginning, it was hard for me to feel worthy of using my time this way and I felt negligent toward all the other to-do’s on my list. I feel it one of the hardest lessons to learn as a mom is to feel worthy of receiving from others and caring for yourself.
3. I write myself into my to-do list. Every Sunday, I block out my days of what needs to get done. I have to be organized since we have multiple parental schedules to juggle. I actually block off 1/2 chunks of time for myself each day. As I make my way through my list and I come to that To-Do, I stop, sit, and do something that builds me up. Some days, it is all about just sitting in the sun doing nothing.
4. I got healthy. Time always seemed against me: no time for the gym, no time to sit and eat, and I would forget half the time to eat during the day. If I didn’t make myself important, no one else would. I needed to take the time to prepare healthy meals and ask others to help with the girls so I could go to the gym. I was making healthy meals for everyone else, so how come not for me? When I began to eat regularly and healthier, I had more energy to get things done. I wasn’t so sluggish. Going to the gym gave me a confidence boost because I began to see what I was capable of.
5. I ask for help. It has been a long road, but I do understand the need to reach out to others and ask for help. Many have been wanting to help but didn’t know what I would need so they never asked. I can’t be a single mom on my own without needing to lean on someone every now and then. Asking for help is one of the hardest lessons in self-care and compassion that I have had to learn how to do. I feel as if I have to swallow my pride each time I do it because, in my mind, I am admitting that I can’t handle it. Realistically, no one ever told me I HAD to do it all. That was a pressure I put on myself. It was a learned behavior from my marriage that I needed to let go of.
When I got divorced, it was important to me that my daughter grew up in a loving, supportive, cooperative environment. She watches me every day and takes cues from me on how to behave. I do not want her to learn from me that her needs are not important. I want her to learn that she needs to love herself, be compassionate with herself when she feels sad, and to have the strength to ask for help if she needs it. Knowing that I have little eyes on me all the time keeps me accountable to myself. She needs to see me caring for myself so that she realizes its worth. I don’t want her to have to go through what I went through in order to feel worthy of self-compassion. I can already see that she is, at age 8, so much stronger than I ever was at her age. Take time this Valentine’s day to show yourself some love and attention. You are so worth it!
How do you take care of yourself now that you’re divorced?
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