I hadn’t planned to write about this. In fact, submitting my contribution for the month had been another February to do list entry staring me in the face every time I opened my planner. I would look at it most days, then carefully scratch it out and move it to another day, making room for “more important” entries that usually involved completing something for someone else.
Until a busy week at work hit. Throw in a stomach bug for good measure that put me flat on my back for an entire 24 hours. My husband and I shuffled work schedules, my son spiked a high fever, work schedules had to be shuffled around again, and then we experienced the sudden death of an amazing role model for our family, all smack dab in the middle of a busy swim season for my swim coaching husband. Sound familiar?
I looked at my to-do list and cried because none of it seemed important anymore, but most of it still needed to be done. And then I realized, the blog post I had been carefully moving each week was my sanity, my self-care. It was my time to share my thoughts, and it was good for my mental health. I had put it off, I had told myself it wasn’t the most important thing on my list, I had neglected the things each day that week that had made ME happy. Suddenly I had something different to write about.
The reality is that for us as moms, and as caregivers and for myself as a working mom, things still have to be done, despite sickness and grief and emotional/busy weeks. I was reminded of that this week and I am thankful for the family that we relied on, who stepped in when we needed them to help our household run smoothly. I was also reminded that MY mental health is important, that I should be at the top of my to-do list. That pushing off the things that make me sane each day doesn’t help my family or me.
Because life IS going to happen. The to-do list is going to be constant and growing, little people and big people are going to need me. No matter how organized my planner is each week, crisis and sickness and unexpected events are going to pop up AND it’s all probably going to happen in the same week! It doesn’t do me any good to bottle up all of my stress and emotions and save them for one big, overwhelming, emotional breakdown in the heat of a cray cray week. As caregivers, we have to carve out time for ourselves, ask for help, and let go of control DAILY.
Yes, I said daily. When life feels crazy and the larger self-care items are just not going to happen, think about something small that you can do each day. Maybe it’s ignoring a work phone call and taking 5 minutes to go to the bathroom in peace. Perhaps it’s buying an overpriced coffee, ditching the lunch you brought to go out with co-workers, asking a friend for help or popping your kids in front of Netflix while you take a 10-minute shower (trust me, they’ll live!). It might be as simple as drinking more water each day, journaling, sitting in silence and breathing for a few minutes, or listening to a positive podcast to start your day. It could be taking a walk outside, making a list to feel more organized, or scrolling social media mindlessly for a few minutes. For me, it looks like taking 15 minutes at the end of the day to clean my kitchen, so it’s ready to be destroyed the next day again, but for you it will probably look different!
The important things to keep in mind are that it doesn’t have to cost anything, it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, and it doesn’t deserve to be pushed off until tomorrow. Our mental health deserves our daily attention so that when the unexpected, crazy week happens, we can handle it!
What have you done for yourself today?