When Self-care Means Escape


I caught the sunrise this morning.

I looked out my bedroom window in the quiet morning, and exhaled out into the fire-colored sky…

A far cry from three days ago when I overslept, and then spent an intense thirty minutes yelling at my kids to “hurry” while I rushed to get everyone to school on time.

I am realizing more and more that I often set the tone for my household…

and I want that “tone” to be less rushed, less stressed, and more forgiving.

At the start of the year, I decided one of my goals would be to get up a half an hour earlier than I usually do so I could spend a little peaceful morning-time focusing on myself. My goal was to wake up before everyone else, brush my teeth, make a cup of coffee, meditate, and set my intentions for the day. My hope was to be centered and present when I got the rest of the family ready for the day, so since the beginning of January, I’ve been setting my alarm for a half an hour before I  ABSOLUTELY NEED to get up…

and every day for the last month, I’ve been hitting the snooze button over and over for about thirty minutes…

until today.

I finally did it!

It only took me thirty days.

It may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it’s a big shift for me. I have no problem getting up super early because I have a meeting, or a plane to catch, or I have to get my kids somewhere… those are things that make it necessary to get out of bed at a certain time. It’s been really difficult to also view caring for myself as a necessary reason.

In fact, I have never really been very good at self-care in general. Over the years self-care has mostly been put off until it eventually meant “escape”. I had a tendency to push it off until I reached a point of necessary escape – begging my husband to take the kids out of the house on a Saturday, counting down the days until an annual conference so I could get the hell away from my home, even late night Netflix marathons so I could live in another world for a while. Baths became a rare occurrence. They eventually weren’t even relaxing anymore – they were simply a warm, wet way to shut the world out and keep from cracking.

I also became good at shutting down. When the pressure and stress became too much, I would just “turn off”.

Shutting down is not self-care... and I tried to convince myself they were one in the same. Click To Tweet

My brain knew that I should’ve been taking better care of myself… but knowing and doing are different things. As a wife and mother there is always something else that needs to be done – laundry, toilets, dry cleaning, school parties, making healthy lunches, work, finishing an article, etc… not to mention the internal blame we put on ourselves for being “selfish”.

I began to wonder what kind of a message I was sending my kids… and I didn’t feel like I was modeling good behavior for them. Everyone needs a little solitude, but I was only getting it when life’s stressors had built to the point of being too much. I was too often screaming the words “I NEED A BREAK”, and then holing myself away in my bedroom or bathroom praying that I don’t explode.

I was afraid the message I was sending my kids was that Mommy takes care of herself by being away from them. Click To Tweet

So now I’m trying to integrate self care into my daily life – into snack-size pieces of caring for myself that my kids can see and we can talk about:

  • Taking that bath more often while my kids hang out in the other room.
  • Painting my toenails on the floor of the playroom while my son builds a Lego fort around me.
  • Letting the dishes wait so I can make it to that dance class, because it feels awesome to move my body like that.
  • Meditating daily.
  • Carving time out for things that bring me joy, and talking to my kids about doing the same.
  • Getting up that extra half hour earlier for some sunrise and solitude… so that I feel cared for before I care for others.
There's a reason the term self-care has become trendy lately. We need it. We're fighting an underlying push to have a life that looks good instead of a life that feels good. Click To Tweet

I want my kids to see me make good choices – to model healthy ways of handling daily stress. I’m trying to be careful about saying things like, “Mommy needs to GET AWAY” or “Mommy needs a glass of wine”… and I’m hoping to do that by making those statements simply untrue. Need and choice are two different things.

I’m teaming up with Responsibility.org again this year as a part of their #TalkEarly program. The program is about encouraging parents to create a lifetime of conversations with kids about responsible choices as young as 6-9 years old. I encourage you to visit the #TalkEarly page to find more information. This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org, which is a non-profit organization. As always, these thoughts are my own.

I’m hoping that small ways to care for myself will simply become a normal part of daily life for me. I’m also hoping my kids will see my behavior, and learn healthy habits themselves. Caring for ourselves should be an integral part of enjoying life… and a life enjoyed is a life I will need less “escapes” from.



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Comments (2)

  • I get all of this. I think it was the start of last school year, but I honestly don’t remember when, that I shifted my clock by 15 minutes to get up earlier. The purpose was to give myself 15 minutes of meditation time after I walked the dogs, before I started making lunches for the family. But, more often than not, I find that the dishwasher had been run, so I put away dishes, or wash pots & pans from the previous day, or find something that needs* to be tidied (*there is always something that is disorderly, I live with kids, so it’s obviously an excuse for me not to focus on myself).

    I’m proud of you for making the commitment and sticking to it — simply hope you have better luck than I’ve had.

    J. Kindhouse 5 years ago Reply

    Oh, I’m sure I will have sporadic lapses… but hopefully this healthier way of self care will make a difference even if I stick to it just 60% of the time. *fingers crossed*

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