It’s mid-June; we’re now deeply embedded into summer. How is everyone holding up?
If you and I were talking in person (and let’s pretend like we are), you’d probably answer by detailing all the activities, camps, and daily adventures you and your family have been doing to “stay busy” this summer. I’d probably commiserate and send back a few of the same exchanges. But then, I’d have to ask you what I really want to know:
What about YOU? How are YOU holding up?
Unlike the school year, when my kids have a set schedule and clear expectations for what their day will be like, summer days are a little more relaxed. Well, at least it is for the kids, but maybe not so much for the moms, right? In the absence of the school year’s predictable schedule, they now turn their eyes to me to tell them how to spend their time — although they rarely like my suggestions.
While I’m thankful for more time together, spending so much time being “on” for everyone can really wear me down. Most summer days, I feel more like Atlas the Titan — condemned to hold up the sky — desperately trying to prevent opposing moods and needs from crashing down on our summer joy. As you can imagine, holding up the sky — or at least a troop of wild monkeys – can feel very exhausting. If I have any hope of accomplishing that task and keeping my sanity intact, I know I need to put just as much energy into taking care of myself as I do for the kids — maybe even more.
In Colleen Duggan’s book, Good Enough is Good Enough, the second confession, “I Don’t Always Take Care of Myself as I Should,” zones in on the importance of self-care not in-spite of our children but because of and for our family.
… we deny ourselves in unhealthy ways and overlook our natural interests because we cannot justify the perceived self-indulgence in the face of our parental responsibilities … we often put off what we most need — whether it is human, social, emotional, spiritual — in order to continue or vocational work. But we can’t give what we don’t have …
This point is especially important during the summer months when we spend many more hours of unscheduled time together with our children. But how? First, you have to acknowledge that you need to take care of yourself this summer and then, commit to a plan to ensure you really do. Here’s a simple plan I’ve come up with for myself.
Six Summer Self-Care Tips for Moms
You must pray; without prayer the grace God has ready for you cannot enter into you. Without grace, you can’t be patient. Without grace, you can’t show mercy. Finding time to pray while everyone is with you all.the.time is as easy as trying to go the bathroom without an entourage. Although, sometimes the only place I can pray alone is behind the locked door in the bathroom. And really — that’s ok.
Prayer doesn’t have to be overly complicated or fancy. Prayer happens the instant you pause and remember God is right there with you in every part of your day. However you can, just pray.
There’s this thing called food. It’ll keep you alive and prevent you from biting your innocent little kids’ heads off instead. I admit, my eating habits aren’t the greatest in the summer. I have more time to make better food, but a lot less energy. It’s just so much easier to grab something fast and pre-packaged. However, after a while, my body craves more than just a quick bite to get me through the day. My body craves sustenance, and nutrition. One can only live on bread alone for so long before becoming “Hangry.” Regular hunger is bad enough, but when you’re hungry and all your little people are hungry, things can get ugly very quickly.
Take time to eat regularly — at least three meals a day and a[healthy]snack to two. Think about what you can do to give your body the nutrition it needs but stay cool about it — it’ll be ok if you consume some fake stuff here and there.
Water, water, and more water.
some a lot of wine or a special cocktail to unwind at the end of a long day.
It’s just as important to keep yourself hydrated as it is stay properly nourished. When your body becomes dehydrated, you’re literally “sucked dry” and this will affect your brain’s ability to respond appropriately to whatever comes at you — like poop on the walls or a high-stakes screaming match over the dumb dollar-store toys.
Aside from staying hydrated and fueling your body with healthy eating and hydrating choices, you need more than that. You need activity. You need adventure. You need to escape to the gym or your treadmill or get outside for a walk or a jog — maybe even an adrenaline-boosting sprint — or a bike ride, or a game of tag with the kids or really any other physical exertion at least once a day.
You also need mental stimulation. Grab a book or plug yourself into an audiobook and go hide in your closet
all day for a little while until “they” find you. Get out a scrap of paper and see if you can remember how to do long division or even some simple addition problems. (Hint: 2 + 2 = 4). If reading and math aren’t your thing get out and garden, paint a picture — or a wall, build a tower, or work on a puzzle. Find something — anything! — to stimulate your mind throughout your day.
Engage yourself with others, especially people your own age from time to time. Invite friends over — turn on the sprinklers and let your kids run wild while you sip on iced lemonade and exchange the latest insane shenanigans your kids have been up to. (Just make sure to talk about how cute they are from time to time and how much you really do love them.)
Maybe a fun evening out sans children every now and then or just a phone call or desperate SOS text message to a trusted friend, family member, or your husband can help reset your day when it feels like Atlas dropped the ball and the sky really is falling down. Remember, God built you for relationship and He gives us friends to strengthen one another, build each other up, or at least have company in our insanity.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Right along with good food, plenty of water, mental stimulation and social engagement, sleep is your friend! I’m a strong proponent of the daily nap, even though I have no napping children in the house I still make sure to carve out “quiet” time for everyone, especially myself. Even if it’s only 10 – 20 minutes, a quick power nap can do wonders to replenish your adrenals. Though summer nights arrive later and bedtimes tend to get pushed back, it’s just as important to get everyone — and yourself — to bed at a decent time to ensure you still get as much of a “solid night’s sleep” as you can.
Rest is about more than sleep though, it’s about being still. Look for and find those rare moments of quiet in your day and soak up those droplets of peace. If you can, get up early and sit outside and listen to the morning birds. Put on some music or a podcast and let your mind be still for a bit. Stare out your window and daydream – hey, even moms need to do that every now and then. And who said there’s anything wrong with sitting and staring at a blank wall for a few moments? Whatever you can do, find a time and a place to be still and rest in God’s peace and serenity.
So, remember: Take care of you in order to care for them. Pray, eat, drink, think, be merry, and rest. Remember — this season will pass and you’ll long for these lazy summer days when the busyness of a new school year revs up again.
What about YOU? How do you take care of yourself during the summer?
Copyright 2018 Erika Marie
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