I recently learned a good lesson about self-care, mothering, and how the simplest moments can bring so much joy.
The other day I was rushing around (as we do), getting kids off to school and heading to daycare drop off. I was feeling stressed and anxious about accomplishing everything that was on my to-do list for the day. As I was pulling my coat on, my three-year-old son asked if we could take the stroller to daycare instead of the car.
Without even thinking about it, I began to say no. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the disappointment start to creep over his face. I stopped myself and instead of continuing to talk on auto-pilot I took some deep breaths. I found some calm in my mind. And then I said, “yes, let’s take the stroller”.
As we left the house my anxiety went into high gear, berating me with the list of tasks I had to accomplish instead of spending this time with my son. Rather than pay attention to my type A thoughts, I started talking to Elijah. We cut through a parking lot and over to the creek that we follow to daycare. The air was crisp and fresh. Elijah called hello to the ducks.
And then together we noticed the icicles that were wrapped around tree branches dangling in the creek water. They looked like upside down flowers that were blossoming in the cold winter air. It was magical and fairy-like. Elijah and I were both quite taken with these beautiful icicles.
Somewhere inside me, a window was opened, a light came in, and my to-do list floated away down the creek. As it did I became truly present to the moment and the joy of a beautiful morning walk with my child.
Before I had kids I had a long list of self-care tasks that I would try (and usually accomplish) daily. I would exercise, journal, do something creative, read, meditate and so on. The list got shorter the more children came into my life. Now a daily shower and some alone time before bed have to suffice.
Except, that short walk with my son made me realize that it doesn’t need to. With just a few deep breaths, truly listening to my child, and taking the time to honor both our needs, I was able to let go of the hamster wheel and be present.
As a mom, I know how difficult it can be to juggle so much. There are more days then I care to remember where I feel all that I did was run to catch up. There are many other days when I know I spend more time yelling than speaking, more time jumping to conclusions than actually listening.
I see now that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Self-care can take many forms. Some of those forms, like this walk with my child, are perhaps ideas of self-care that you may not have considered before. Usually, self-care and connecting with my kids is an after-thought to the importance of my to-do list. I now see that being present and in the moment allows for these opportunities to have connection throughout the day.
Our to-do lists will always be waiting for us (along with several baskets of laundry!) but this time with ourselves and our children is fleeting. And life is truly made of these moments and NOT crossing one more thing off our list.
What are some of the ways that you have found self-care or connection in your life?