How To Make Time for Self Care

December 12, 2017

It’s kind of hard to believe I’ve been writing about self care for over a year and I have yet to write one called “how to make time for self care.”  I’ve thought about it many times, and I’ve written snippets about making time for self care here and here, but until today, I have […]

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It’s kind of hard to believe I’ve been writing about self care for over a year and I have yet to write one called “how to make time for self care.”  I’ve thought about it many times, and I’ve written snippets about making time for self care here and here, but until today, I have yet to dedicate a whole post to this topic.  The reason?  Every time I’ve contemplated it, the entire post would go something like this in my mind:

Sorry, just keepin’ it real.  
By far, the # 1 question people ask me is “how do I make time for self care?  I’m too busy!”  Well, my sweet friends, I hear you.  I really do.  And I want nothing more than for you to be taking care of yourselves, resting more, and feeling more refreshed than ever.  So today, I’m sharing three ways for you to find the time for self care.  
You may not love my suggestions at first (most people don’t!), but please hear me out!  I’m in your corner; I’m on your team!  And while I can’t gift you with an extra hour each day (this is the solution most people are hoping for, I think), I can give you some concrete ways to get your self care time.  Still with me?  Good, let’s get to it.
1.  Ask for help.  Many of you can already see why this is going to be difficult, right?  Most people don’t love asking for help.  It is humbling, it doesn’t feel good, and we don’t want to be a burden to anyone.  Well, my Besties, if you literally don’t have any time for self care, I would posit that you, yourself are carrying quite a heavy burden.  I’m sure there’s a friend of yours who would be willing to watch your kiddos one or two hours every once in a while so you can have some peace and quiet.  Or perhaps you can find a MOPS group or mom’s morning out program that will give you some time off.  Otherwise, you need to do the hard work of finding a babysitter you trust…ask around, and do whatever you need to do to find someone who you will have peace of mind about leaving your kids with.  
You can also find time for self care by delegating certain tasks to others.  For example, can you hire someone to clean your house?  Can you have your laundry sent out?  Can you use PeaPod, or a service like it to save you a trip to the grocery store?  Be creative!  A little thinking outside the box can help you free up some time for self care like nothing else.  Side note:  there’s no need to feel guilty about asking for help or delegating.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Self care is important.  Actually, it is vital to your well-being and keeping your moods in check.  
2.  Eliminate tasks that don’t need to get done.  Ok…this one may take some creative thinking as well.  But you can do this.  What are some things you do all the time that you simply don’t need to do.  I mean, come on…there has to be something taking up a good chunk of your time that you could simply get by without doing, at least a couple times a week to sneak in some time for self care.  For example, do you need to make the beds every day?  Do you need to do the dishes right after dinner?  Do you need to spend 30-90 minutes on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest each day?
You see what I’m saying?  I know there are many people who squirm at the idea of not making their bed or not doing the dishes immediately…but the point I’m making is…people will still be alive and the world will still turn on its axis if you just…don’t…for maybe one or two days a week.  Or, like, all of them.  Do you.  Or rather, do what’s best for you.  Because, unfortunately, you can’t do it all.  Which leads me to suggestion number three…

3.  Accept a standard lower than perfection.  Let me say it again:  you can’t do it all.  NO ONE CAN.    But friends…we weren’t meant to.  In her book, Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist says this:  
“Many of us, myself included, considered our souls necessary collateral damage to get done the things we felt we simply had to get done – because of other people’s expectations, because we want to be known as highly capable, because we’re trying to outrun an inner emptiness.  And for a while we don’t even realize the compromise we’ve made.  We’re on autopilot, chugging through the day on fear and caffeine, checking things off the list, falling into bed without a real thought or feeling or connection all day long, just a sense of having made it through.”
I think I’m gonna need an AMEN, on that one, Besties.  So many of my dear friends are living this way.  I, myself used to live this way!  Believe me, it’s no fun.  This is not the life we were intended for.  Life was made for both work and play, time for ourselves, and time connecting with others.  Life is way more than your to-do list and others’ perceptions of you. 
The perceptions you really care about, if you’re honest…the ones that keep you awake at night…are the ones of the people you live with.  Those people see the best and worst of you, and they love you anyway.  But what version of yourself do you want to present them with?  The stressed, frustrated, burnt-out but accomplished you that kept the house spotless but felt empty all day?  The resentful, exhausted you that didn’t stop all day but everyone got to all the places on time and you got a compliment about how organized you are from a near-stranger?  Or, do you want to present those closest to you with the “a little bit of everything (but not everything) got done today including some me time so I’ll greet you with a smile and a hug and some deep connection, given joyfully” you.  
I rest my case.  
The real secret to making time for self care is to find your why.  Mine is I’m more likely to be the type of wife and mom I want to present my family with when I prioritize self care.  Despite my inner-critic telling me otherwise at times, they actually aren’t keeping track of how clean the house is, how much laundry got done, or how my treat for the class party turned out.  Nope.  They’re just looking for a me that can affirm them, spend quality time with them, and give lots of meaningful hugs and snuggles.  Praise.
So what’s your why, my friends?  Do you feel you know how to make time for self care?  Share any extra wisdom you have with us in the comments; we’re all ears!

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I'm Cathleen, your new (foster) mom friend.

I'm also a psychotherapist in private practice who wants to teach my fellow foster mamas the skills that ACTUALLY work to overcome stress, anxiety and overwhelm...'cause ain't nobody got time for that!

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