This is Part One of Seven in my Connecting with Kids Series. Join my email list to receive a special copy of all 7 posts with additional material, right to your inbox when the series is completed.
As my kids are growing up at light speed in front of my eyes, I am constantly reminded of the passage of time. I want to make sure I spend lots of time connecting with them because, before I know it, they will be out of the house, living their own lives.
In this Connecting With Kids Series, I tackle seven ways to connect with your kids, one at time, giving each idea the time and space it deserves. I challenge you to choose one or two new ideas and test them out on your family.
And now, on to Part One of the Connecting With Kids Series!
Happy Mom equals Happy Kids
We are amazing human beings. We give everything we have to raising our kids and taking care of the household. Unfortunately as care givers, we often put ourselves last. We need to remind ourselves that only when we are at our best, can we take the best care of our families.
We all know this one, right? But, man, it can be a challenge. Self care is hard. Often it feels like, just one more thing on our to do list. Looking at self care as a burden, as just another thing to do, might send you reeling. So let’s shift our focus by looking at the positives.
Self care is essential for many reasons.
Your kids learn the most from WHAT you do.
Remember kids do what you do, not what you say. By modeling self care you are doing your children a world of good! When we nourish ourselves we are also teaching our families the value of caring for themselves.
Self care creates a positive atmosphere.
Your happy, centered mood creates an amazing atmosphere in your household. The old cliche – Happy Mom, Happy Kids – carries a world of truth with it.
Self care is a win-win.
What if we look at self care as multi tasking, killing two birds with one stone? You do that
shit stuff all the time! In fact, you are brilliant at it. By putting a little extra effort into feeding ourselves, the whole family will benefit.
What does self care look like for you?
Look beyond a pedicure or a pint.
I’m not knocking a good pedicure or a pint of ice cream – I love them both. But if I got a pedicure and ate ice cream every time I needed to regroup, I’d be broke and have to buy new pants. This kind of joy is often fleeting and by the time we get to the bottom of the pint, we may be grumpy again.
Truly lasting, life-affirming self care is soul care. Dig deep and remember what really makes you come alive in this world.
Start by prioritizing your energy.
You are going to need energy, a lot of energy, to take good care of yourself. These simple, cheap, often overlooked ideas can yield tremendous benefit to our well being. Start here first.
Get 7 to 8 hours a sleep a night. Do everything you can to make this happen. Go to bed at the same time every night, turn off electronics way before bedtime, take a magnesium supplement, get a good dose of daily exercise. (Win-win: Your kids may not know when you go to bed, but they will see a refreshed mama!)
Have 5 to 6 servings of fruits and veggies per day, everyday. Nutrition is key. Eat your faves, try something new, drink smoothies, start a garden, make soup, visit a farmer’s market, try a new salad recipe, eat as many different colors a day as you can.( Win-win: With all the veggies around, your kids are sure to eat some, too.)
Connect with your friends with face to face contact or real time phone calls. Human contact feeds our soul. (Win-win: With so little real- time communication going on in the world, my kids need a good dose of hearing what people talk about!)
Next, you can ask yourself a few questions.
To get some more clues as to how to refuel yourself, you may have to ask yourself a few simple questions. (Write down your answers so you don’t forget. This also helps to solidify your good intentions.)
What have you been meaning to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet?
Is there something that keeps rolling over from week to week, month to month, on your to do list? We all have things that we want to do, “when we get finished with all the other stuff we have to do.” Make your wants the new needs and put them at the top of your list.
What did you love to do before you had kids?
Think back to how you spent your time before kids. You weren’t necessarily swimming in extra time,(Hey, everyone is busy) but I bet you did make more of an effort to meet your own needs. Activities that used to be easy to do, may be even more necessary to do now that you can’t find the time.
Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?”
Self care can be about immediate gratification-especially if you need to get your energy stores back up. Do you need a nap? A hot shower? A healthy snack? A sit on the sofa with a good book? Indulge in something that will just feel good and do it now.
A year from now what will you wished you had done?
This one always gets me. I hate to have regrets. Sometimes we have to look forward for clues of what we need to do now. Will you wish you made time to train for that 5K? Started that business? Made mediation a daily practice?
What makes your heart sing?
This answer will either come to you immediately or take some soul searching. We all have something that makes us come alive, that feeds who we are at our very core. It probably has something to do with creating, connecting or serving others-something that expresses your true self in a way nothing else can. What’s putting a smile on your face right now as you’re pondering some options?
Don’t get hung up finding the perfect thing.
Just start doing something for yourself. One thing will lead to another and over time you’ll figure out what fills you up best.
We all have different ideas of self care. Something off the beaten path may float your boat. Start small. Experiment with something new.
Here are some big and little ideas that just might fill you up.
Keep a journal – draw in it, write in it, document and collect.
Find a quiet spot and sit – for 10 minutes.
Doing good for someone else-besides your own family.
Investigate the offerings at your local library.
Take an online class. I love Creativebug.
Volunteer in your community.
Mentor someone in need.
Clean out your closet and bring a bag to Goodwill.
Bake a snack(triple the recipe) and share with the neighbors.
Listen to a few podcasts while you sip herbal tea.
Invite friends over for a potluck.
Take a walk through a neighboring town or a nature preserve.
Now that you have ideas let’s find the time.
This may be the hardest one of all. We are busy, days go by so quickly. Finding even 10 minutes may be difficult.
However, do not trivialize the power of a few minutes. By starting small we can gain some momentum. With just a little effort, you can sneak in some time for yourself. Have you tried any of these ideas?
Swap out one activity for another.
Mindlessly surfing Facebook? Put your phone down and use that 20 minutes for something else. Cook a double batch of dinner, so you have time the next day for yourself. Making a better choice just once a day can free up the time you need.
Have your stuff ready.
Keep something you love to do at the ready, so when you have 10 minutes, you are all set to go. Keep a book or knitting supplies in the car. Dedicate a drawer in the kitchen for your art journaling supplies. Download that meditation app onto your phone or iPad.
Gather stuff to occupy your kids.
Keep an enticing box of items for your kids and only get it out when you need some time. Fill the box with items like stickers,cool paper, a new Hot Wheel car or special art supplies – something you know will grab your kids’ attention and keep them busily working for at least 15 to 20 minutes. For it to work, you have to use it sparingly or change up the box to keep it fresh.
Institute “Independent Leisure Time”
Kids need to learn how to entertain themselves. “Independent Leisure Time” is my favorite way to get some time for myself.
Put the baby down for a nap and separate everyone else in different parts of the house. Declare it “Independent Leisure Time”. Set the timer for 15 minutes and tell everyone they need to find a quiet activity to do by themselves.
Your kids made need a few suggestions at first, but keep this up and amazing things happen! Pretty soon you have 45 minutes to yourself and your kids will have learned a valuable life skill.
Ask for help.
You may need to ask for help to get some time to yourself. Swap watching each other’s kids with a friend. Hire a neighborhood kid to play with your kids for a few hours.
Just do it, in plain site.
Plop your yoga mat in the middle of the family room and do some poses. Find a quiet spot and bring out your book. The more you do this, the more your kids will come to expect it and learn to let you do your thing!
Some biggees in the self care world:
Hey, I did not say it would be easy.
Self care takes thought and hard work. If it was easy to be good to yourself on a regular basis, we’d all be in a much different place. Even when you find the time, it can be hard to change your patterns.
But, the more you find the time, the more time you will find. When you set your intentions, space will open up and wonderful things will happen!
I’d love to hear what fills you up and how you find the time to do it. Please leave a comment or head over to the Fuzzymama Facebook page.
Stay tuned for the rest of the series!