The book Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman has been around for a number of years now, and you can now read books on how his theory relates to your spouse, children, men, teens and singles. My husband and I read the couples version after we received it as an engagement present many years ago. The love languages are something I have tried to keep in mind when interacting with my husband and in raising our kids. However, until recently I had never considered how it might be beneficial to apply the love languages for self-care.
So what is this love language thing all about? The idea is that everybody has a method of communicating (giving and receiving) love that feels most comfortable for them. Sometimes miscommunication can occur when we try to show love in a way that doesn’t resonate with the receiver of our affections. The five love languages proposed by Dr. Chapman are as follows:
- Words of affirmation: spoken words that praise, affirm and lift up. Maybe it’s a compliment, an “I love you” or a word of encouragement.
- Acts of service: Doing things to show your love. Maybe doing a chore, cooking a meal or running errands.
- Receiving gifts: physical gifts to show your love. Can be as simple as buying someone their favourite treat.
- Quality Time: spending time with someone to show you care, giving them your undivided attention (put the phone away!).
- Physical touch: Kisses, hugs, holding hands, a shoulder rub etc are all typical ways someone uses physical touch to show their love.
You may take one look at the descriptions above and immediately know which fits you. If you need help working it out you can take a quiz here.
Love languages for self-care
Being aware of how you like to receive love and affection better equips you to take care of yourself in a way that will be most impactful. For example; there is no point doing a spa day if physical touch doesn’t make you feel lovely and refreshed. So how can you apply each language in looking after yourself? Here are a few suggestions:
- Words of affirmation: speak kindly to yourself, print off positive quotes or bible verses and place them around your house, work on using a positive mindset when challenges occur or listen to uplifting songs.
- Acts of service: plan ahead by meal planning or preparing healthy freezer meals, book childcare/babysitter when you need some extra help, put a system in place to make daily chores easier, or even hiring a cleaner.
- Receiving gifts: sign up for a magazine subscription, buy something to help with your personal goals, get yourself a nice mug, or buy a lovely takeout coffee once a week.
- Quality Time: depending on where you fall on the introversion/extroversion scale, this may be time with a good friend, or time alone. Going for a walk, reading a good book, working on a hobby, or even just going to the supermarket alone!
- Physical touch: Getting a massage, using some nice hand cream, stretching, doing a facial or getting a haircut.
MOPS is self-care
When I think about it, one of the reasons I quickly became a regular at my MOPS group is probably because it met my main love language- Acts of service. I get made a hot drink, morning tea is provided, childcare is easy, and I get to hear a speaker and/or do a craft I didn’t necessarily have to organise (although as coordinator I sometimes do). And when I stop to consider all of the love languages, I think MOPS covers them all.
So many words of affirmation, encouragement, hope and empathy are spoken at MOPS meetings. Quality time is what MOPS is all about- with other mums, where you are taken care of, and can learn and talk together. Gifts often come in the form of welcome gifts, crafts and good coffee and cake. And for those who love physical touch, there’s lots of opportunities for hello hugs (covid restrictions permitting of course 😩), pamper activities, and snuggles with babies at MOPS.
What’s not to love?! If you aren’t already part of a MOPS group, you can find locations here.
How ever you choose to do it, make sure you are looking after yourself. Don’t wait until you are running on empty to take the time to refuel and care for yourself. Parenting is hard work! It is much easier (and more fun) to make small, regular efforts to look after yourself than to try to pull things back together only when you feel it all has all gone majorly pear-shaped. Be kind to yourself.