How and why you should make self-care a priority

Self-care! Self-care! SELF-CARE!! We hear it a lot, don’t we? We need to do it. We should do it. It’s important. But life is sooo busy! Especially with young families. “The kids need me!” I hear mums say. “It’s a selfish thing to take time for myself” or “I should be able to just get on with it, shouldn’t I?”.

I, for one, am a busy person. I like being busy. I like doing lots of things. I like doing things for others, looking out for others. I have been a ‘Yes’ person in my time, agreeing to do anything that was asked of me. Basically, if I have a spare couple of hours in my day, they should be filled, especially if it involves being there for someone in need, shouldn’t they?

We are created to be active and fully engaged in life – but we also need to rest. We need to MAKE time to step away from our chores, our jobs and stop. Regularly. It might be for an hour or two, or shorter moments of a few minutes, so that we can keep on keeping on! We need to take time out for ourselves without feeling guilty about it. And we need to encourage our fellow mums and girlfriends to do likewise.

How self-care looks for you may be very different from how it looks for me! I like going for a walk with my dog or getting out in nature. I also thrive if I’m reading a good (non-work-related) book or doing a find-a-word. Coffee with a girlfriend reenergises me, or walking casually through a gallery or attending a concert. You might see even more simple pleasures as self-care, like a nice hot cup of your favourite tea in a china tea cup, or taking the time to SLOWLY walk out to your mailbox and check it, or watering your plants.

Self-care may also be making appointments with your doctor for those regular checkups – blood tests, pap smears, skin checks. Or deciding to go swimming, or joining a netball team or going to the gym every week (I’ve just signed up to Pilates! Wish me luck!). It may mean getting a cleaner in to do your housework when things are becoming overwhelming, or getting a babysitter or a friend to look after your kids. When my kids were younger, I would have my husband mind them on Saturday morning so I could sit on my own and do some study at a local cafe for a couple of hours. Or weekly a friend and I would take turns looking after one another’s kids whilst one of us would go grocery shopping (On our own! What an indulgence!).

The Australian Childhood Foundation (www.childhood.org.au) encourages self-care under the following areas: doing something for yourself emotionally; physically; mentally; professionally; spiritually and relationally.

Something to think about too is, do you have mum friends who really struggle to self-care? Maybe they don’t have family to mind the kids. Or they are single parenting. Maybe they are going through a rough time at present. Can you enable them to take some time out to self-care? Can you make them a meal, offer to babysit, send them off for a massage or take them out for a cuppa?

Whatever you decide, make self-care a regular priority. Daily. Weekly. Monthly.

Happy self-caring!

Sarah McIntosh
MOPS Field Manager

Attending a MOPS group could be a great opportunity for self-care and time out for you each fortnight. Find your local group here.

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