I am guilty of squeezing productivity out of every moment often to my own detriment. I work full-time, run a business, am a mother of three, a wife and occasionally require food and sleep, so much so that "over scheduled" doesn't even begin to describe it. I had gotten to the point where friends started mentioning to me the current Buzzword in mom circles: "Self-care." Self-care. The modern mama is so over scheduled and overwhelmed that there is an entire movement around "taking care of self." I totally saw the importance. My third pregnancy left me with a beautiful baby girl and postpartum anxiety, so I immediately decided to find ways to incorporate self-care into my life.
My first few attempts were totally unsuccessful. I cleared my schedule, sat on my couch and looked around and thought, "Am I self-caring yet?" My mind started racing to all of the things that I could be doing. The guilt crept in and I realized like using a breast pump and riding a bike, self-care was a skill I would have to learn. It wasn't until I hired a professional organizer to clear out my catch-all office and craft room and organize it in a way that nourished my life, that I understood the steps it would take to clear and organize my schedule so that the way I was spending my time left me feeling...well...cared for.
Step One: Empty the Room.
The first step to organizing my office was to completely empty the room. The organizer had me take everything that was in the room out of it without inspecting the items and deciding what to keep and what to toss. We needed to clear the space so that we weren't making room for things that didn't serve me. This is also the first step to self care for the unpracticed. Clear your schedule. Find a day, or even half a day, to be alone.
This may require some emotional heavy lifting. You may have to ask a family member for help with the kids or admit to your boss that you need the day off. Whatever it takes. Take the time.
Step Two: Decide what to keep, throw away, or donate.
This can be really hard if you are the type of mama that is use to doing it all. During your day alone observe yourself. Do you take a nap? Are you bored? Do you think about your work? What are you relieved that you don't have to do? Is there something you used to do that you miss doing? Make your observations and then decide. Decide what you will keep in your schedule. Keep the things that you love...absolutely love. Keep the things that absolutely only you can do and your family can't do without. Decide what you will stop doing. Decide what you will "donate."
Donating or delegating things that you don't love to do is sometimes hard work. You will have to come to terms with the fact that your 7 year old will not fold the dish towels exactly like you do, or your husband may not feed the kids the exact dinner you would, but you have to let that go and exchange it for time to do the things that make you feel alive.
Step Three: Put the things that you need and that will nourish your soul back into the room.
This is the third step. The step that requires the largest shift in mindset. When rebuilding your schedule, put yourself and the things that you have identified as important on the schedule. Did you decide that you want to get back to yoga or kickboxing? Put it on your schedule. Tell your partner about it, schedule childcare around it, take off work for it, do whatever you would do for anything else. Making self-care a part of your life requires you to see yourself as an important appointment. Treat the time that you have cleared for yourself the way you would treat a business meeting or a doctor's appointment. Don't cancel on yourself.
Full-disclosure: I am still in recovery for my "over-schedule-aholism." I occasionally relapse and put myself off more than I'd like to admit, but I know for sure now that the world doesn't stop when I do. Making time for self-care has lessened my anxiety and helped me enjoy my children...and that is a benefit worth re-organizing for.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CRYSTAL.
Crystal Harris has made it her mission to make life easier for pumping moms. After she nursed her two sons as a work from home mom, the birth of her daughter (during an on-site contract that could not be breeched) led her to invent the Brauxiliary hands-free pumping band. She has three "amazingly gorgeous children" John IV (5), Bennett (3), and Josette (1) who "look and act just like their mama", and is married to her husband John III, a man who "understands and celebrates her particular neurosis." Church, Dunkin Donuts, solo grocery trips, and the fact that all three of her children were born on Sunday mornings make Sundays her favorite days. Her family resides in Charlotte, NC.
Link to website: www.brauxiliary.com
Youtube: Search "Brauxiliary"