Balance, Health, Hopes, Work, Yoga

Creating Space for Ourselves in a Busy World

Getting to watch the world anew through her eyes is pretty much all the inspiration I need to be intentional with my time.
Getting to watch the world anew through her eyes is all the inspiration I need to be more intentional with my time.

Lately my plate has piled up higher and higher. In an attempt to avoid full-time work outside the home, I’ve taken on a variety of part-time jobs. While the flexibility is awesome, it’s all too easy to get lost in the endless tasks I could (not necessarily should) be doing. Add in domestic responsibilities and the desire to be present with my ever-changing daughter and, well, parts of me are being left behind. Like writing. Like yoga. Like self-care.

So, here I am today making a sweeping declaration. I’m allowed to stop working (for the most part) on the weekends and do things like write even if writing doesn’t pay the bills. It’s okay to have a slightly messier house so I can go to yoga at least once a week. It’s not the end of the world if I’m occasionally not home for my daughter’s bedtime so I can meet up with other moms to write or actually go on a date with my husband.

Basically, I’ve realized I need to look at where I can let go so I can take care of myself. And, I know I’m not alone. We could all benefit from some honest reflection on how we use our time. In the spirit of creating more space for self-care, I offer you the list of journal questions I’m asking myself this afternoon.

  1. Responsibilities. Make a list of the responsibilities you have in life. What jobs do you have in and out of the home? What obligations do you honor with your friends, family and/or community?
  2. Set days/times for each responsibility to be met. I’ve fallen into the trap of allowing many of my responsibilities to wash over each other so I feel like I never get a break. While some obligations may not realistically be categorized into specific time slots, most can be limited to specific days and times. As a student and a teacher, I set up a schedule for myself and stuck to it. This afternoon I’m attempting to replicate the same approach to life as a mom/wife/teacher/entrepreneur/etc.
  3. Develop weekly/monthly/yearly goals for each responsibility. Keep it simple, but actually map out what you hope to accomplish this week/month/year for each of your responsibilities. Finding clarity in what you plan to achieve helps get rid of all the time wasters, (cough::: Facebook).
  4. Acknowledge your distractions. Actually make a list of your biggest distractions from each responsibility. While tools like social media are crucial to many of my roles, they can also be big time wasters. Recognizing this helps me free up time for more important priorities, like meeting bigger goals and actually having time for myself. My newest plan is to set a timer as a reminder to limit distractions.
  5. Acknowledge what brings you joy. Our responsibilities should ideally bring us joy. But what else makes you happy? Make a list of everything you enjoy doing in life, both work and recreation.
  6. Set weekly self-care commitments. Look at your joy list and figure out what you want to do for yourself on a regular basis. Examine your calendar of responsibilities and figure out a way to consistently schedule in time for things like exercise, meditation, creativity, friendship and romance. We all need personal time to prevent burn-out, stay healthy, and be present for the people in our lives.
  7. Allow space to be unproductive. I have a tendency to over-schedule myself and my family. It’s okay to have time not dedicated to anything in particular. We all need hours to lie around the house and get nothing “done.” Instead of feeling like this is wasted time, acknowledge the need to rest and just be as part of the critical ebb and flow needed to maintain momentum in a busy world.

Have anything else that belongs on this list for self-reflection? Please share– these questions have evolved out of conversations I’ve had over recent months and I’d love to hear your secrets too!

Balance, Health

The Importance of Self-Care as a New Mama

This past weekend I was spoiled to get to see both of my closest friends. In addition to spending time with Eloise, I also was sure to enlist sitters so that I could get some grown-up time. Friends are definitely a huge part of my self-care.
This past weekend I was spoiled to get to see both of my closest friends. In addition to spending time with Eloise, I also was sure to enlist sitters so that I could get some grown-up time. Seeing friends is definitely a huge component of my self-care.

This past weekend some of our dearest friends came to visit, including a couple who moved down to Southern California just before Eloise was born. With no kids yet themselves, they had plenty of questions about new parenthood and somehow I found myself describing how important my coconut-milk shampoo has become to me. Sounds absurd, I know.

However, when your life revolves around someone who is almost six months old, every little moment on your own takes on new meaning. Where before I could care less about how my shampoo smelled, now taking a shower without worrying about whether she is crying is a luxury and washing my hair is a sensory experience. Suddenly, the littlest things feel like pampering, including the smell of my shampoo and the feel of hot water.

Coincidentally, another friend featured a post about self-care on her blog today with the invitation to write about pampering in exchange for a sweepstakes entry. This got me thinking about how self-care has transformed to include the smallest acts in these early months of motherhood. Now, a cup of fragrant tea is a moment I have to carve out for myself when there is no need to have my sweet girl in my arms. Likewise, sitting here and typing on my blog is another expression of self-care that felt like normal, everyday life before Eloise arrived.

I wouldn't give up mommyhood for anything but I am also grateful for my renewed appreciation for all the little moments that belong to just me.
I wouldn’t give up mommyhood for anything but I am also grateful for my renewed appreciation for all the little moments that belong to just me.

Maybe that’s part of the beauty of becoming a parent. Where before I would get home from work and lament having only five or so hours to myself, now I am lucky to get a half hour that is entirely my own and often that half hour is filled with activities I used to take for granted as basic to my survival, like eating and personal hygiene. Accordingly, I try to treat myself with foods I look forward to eating and self-care products I enjoy using, like a scrubby face wash or a water bottle with a cool design.

In other words, being a new mom has given me a deeper appreciation for the littlest things in life, the very same things I never used to give a second thought. Of course, I try to also take care of myself in bigger ways, like arranging for family to watch Eloise while I go to yoga classes and asking for massage gift certificates for my birthday. It is amazing how just a couple massage sessions with our doula have reminded me to be aware of my body again. I also recently bought myself an essential oil diffuser after realizing how much scent can affect my mood.

Motherhood is so much about giving that sometimes we forget to give to ourselves. The weeks that have gone by where I have not been intentional about making time for myself have been the hardest. However, when I remember to take care of me too, staying at home with my girl feels like the best decision I have ever made and I am a much better, more present mother for it.

How do you take care of yourself? I’d love to hear– I know I could still use a few more ideas. And, you should also head over to Ashley’s blog and check out her sweepstakes, I made sure to enter by writing this post!