Leo went back to school today, so the Christmas holidays are officially over.
We had a lot of fun. It was nice to have both boys at home together and not be always hurrying to get out the door for school or waking Clem up from his nap to pick Leo up in the afternoon. I am looking forward to having more time to blog and show our book to a few bookshops.
Over the holidays I started to read Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Daily Lives. It gave me a lot to think about and spurred me on to think about habits I’d like to keep, lose and begin in my life. But I felt a hopeless about implementing her suggestions into my life, to be honest. It sounded like a lot of work and I didn’t have the energy. Clem had just been really sick and I was tired and run-down from the frenetic lead-up to Christmas.
Then! In January I went to the dentist and he told me that I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep. I have never ground my teeth before, so I felt really freaked out to have started. What was it all about?!
With Gretchen’s words fresh in my mind, I decided that I needed to assess my life and ask myself some questions. Things needed to change.
I want to share the questions with you, because answering them has been very clarifying for me.
- What I need to do to look after myself
- Why do I need to look after myself? What’s at stake?
- What if? Then… (if I fall off the wagon this is a plan for how to get back on)
- Potential excuses and responses to them
- Why do I find it hard to look after myself?
- What’s not on the self-care plan i.e. not important
- Who can I check in with?
- Why can’t I get off the hook?
- Treats that are good for me
Answering these questions I learnt that I totally do know how to look after myself, but I just don’t put it into action sometimes. I know all of my excuses and how to counteract them, but I choose not to.
After writing up all my answers with pen and paper, I made a one pager that I can stick up on the fridge and remind me what my mission is. Writing up this plan feels like I have a mission in life and everything else flows from here.
It’s all about fitting your oxygen mask before fitting anyone else’s.
Women especially are taught to look after others before themselves, and I definitely struggle with that. If I’m depleted myself I am terrible at looking after others, and yet I’ve done it all the time. Both before and after having children (I used to always be the friend who looked after everyone in high school for example).
When we were writing You’re Doing Great, Baby we had a line in there that we eventually took out, but it’s very relevant here:
I have all these parenting books on the shelf,
But sometimes it’s hard to look after myself.
The things on my list of things I need to do to look after myself are things I already did to varying degrees, but now it feels more binding. It’s powerful to have recommitted to why I want/need to look after myself.
It takes the element of decision making out of when to do yoga, for example, because I’ve written down the potential days and times I have each week and set myself a minimum number of times a week to get on my mat.
I’ve discovered there’s a great strength and self confidence that comes from choosing rules and then sticking to them. It’s not going to be perfect, and it will evolve over time, but I get excited every time I look at my one-pager. It’s all my favourite stuff (that it’s easy not to make time for).
Since committing to this self care plan things have felt like they’re falling into place. I am excited for the year ahead.
Wishing all of you a healthy and happy 2016. Have faith that you are where you need to be right now. You’re doing great.
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3 thoughts on “Learning to look after myself”
I just came across this again Beth, at a much needed time in my life. I was wondering how you were going with it almost 18months on?
Hey Nat! Good to hear from you. We are good thanks. We still have a small number of books and no plans for it to be re-published. Orders still trickle in slowly from word-of-mouth. I have been doing more paid work and enjoying that and we haven’t launched any new creative projects since starting a street library earlier this year. Two kids keep us busy enough! Hope you’re well.
Oops, I thought you meant how are we going with the book but you probably meant how am I going with the self-care plan!? I did another one this year with a few new inclusions: dancing, nature and gardening because those are all things I’ve realised I need. I’ve also started trying to do a quick meditation every morning – even if it’s just lying down and watching my breath for five minutes before getting out of bed. With the kids getting older I find it a bit easier to do things like this now, but it’s something I need to pay attention to a lot because I get cravings to eat my feelings/stay up late aimlessly surfing the internet on a pretty regular basis. Laying out the self-care plan at the beginning of the new year seems to be a good way of checking in on what you really need and making a commitment to yourself. Thanks for the question!