Our conclusion? There is no wrong way. As long as what you do, helps you be a better “you”.
So, you packed two kids for camp. You cleaned up end-of-school year briefcases. You made sure everyone has at least 2 bathing suits that fit. You filled out wayyyy too many forms. You even took them for ice cream/ to the beach/ to the park/ to a pool/ for lunch to celebrate summer. You do a phenomenal job taking care of your kids. But, who takes care of YOU?
The simple answer: you do.
Never rely on anyone for your happiness. Because happiness is too important to rely on someone else to provide it. When you (the wife, mom, daughter and sister) are happy and fulfilled, everyone benefits. That said, there is no guilt in doing whatever it is you need to get you there. For every woman this might mean something entirely different. Keep in mind, there is no wrong way of filling your emotional wellness tank. We spoke to 10 different women, and got 27 different ways and ideas of self care. For each woman is different and her needs are different.
Self-care doesn’t always and only mean something easy and fun (like a manicure, lunch with a friend, a bubble bath). Sometimes self care could mean sticking to an exercise routine, following a healthy diet or working on that BA. Which is hard. Those are the things that give you the “feel good” feeling only after you are done. You need to do something that says “Right now, I put myself first” so that you can fill up your tank to give to others.
We asked women of different ages and in different communities.
Here is what we learnt:
- “When my kids were growing up and I had very little time by myself, I sometimes went away to a hotel in the city by myself for a night. I’d pick up food, go shopping, go for a run, etc and just be by myself for about 30 hours. Now I’ll sometimes make a decision to accomplish nothing for a full day and just relax without feeling guilty. Has to be a decision ahead of time. Scheduled.”
- “For me, putting time aside for tefillah is self care. Time to thank, to ask, to think.”
- “Read a book. Do nothing, plan nothing. Buy myself good food, a sandwich, shower early like 8 p.m. and in pj’s relaxing.”
- “Meeting a friend for lunch.”
- “Going out with my husband on a walk.”
- “Self-care that I don’t enjoy but like the way I feel and look is – healthy eating and exercise.”
- “Making time to volunteer in the community gives me that ‘feel good’ aspect.”
- “Taking a walk while listening to a good podcast. Helps my physical health as well as my neshama.”
- “Waking up before my kids do, to exercise. It’s really hard. But it makes me feel good.”
- “Sitting in my car for 20 minutes all by myself before coming inside… Meeting up with a friend for coffee… Making time to work out.”
- “1- (small self care, often) I go buy a hot cappuccino or coffee slush instead of making one myself. 2- (bigger self care, less often, when needed more). I go shopping. This is only relevant before a season, when it’s time to buy clothes, but particularly during the most stressful times, I like to take a couple hours off and go to a store to shop. I used to not take the time and buy everything online, but now I find that I enjoy going to an actual store. It’s very therapeutic and helps me unwind.”
- “Eating good food that someone else prepared for me.”
- “I find that self care changes with every stage in life and what might feel like self care for you can be a necessity for others. Like, for example: Sending your child to a playgroup with longer hours. Clubs. Full time cleaning help. A mother’s helper.”
- “I splurge on fresh flowers, I take my time picking them at the store and love arranging them. Then, I enjoy them all week.”
- “Having a yummy acai bowl or sushi in my car, peacefully, with no one around.”
- “Going out with my friends.”
- “First and foremost, no guilt. Even thought it’s ‘me time,’ remember that you are doing it so that you can recharge and be a better person, a better wife and a better mom. So intrinsically you are doing it for THEM. I have a few things I do on a regular basis to keep me in a good place. Like: a manicure every other week, and I like to enjoy it to the fullest. I zone out and I don’t look at my phone. Waxing, taking care of yourself. Getting a proper haircut.”
- “Going out with friends is super important. As you have kids it gets really hard, but I find that being spontaneous is the best way to go about it. Sometimes the less you plan the better… and going out with friends is always so invigorating and recharging. They get you best, and it’s much better to kvetch to them than with your husband.”
- “Accepting help is self care. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
- “Taking a day off with my husband and going to the city and to a nice restaurant.”
- “Go to lunch with a friend without looking at the watch, just talking things out and catching up.”
- “Spa day. You can do it alone too, who knew? Get a massage, a facial. Take it slow. Go home and take a nap after. Best pampering there is.”
- “Sitting by the beach with music and a good book. Trying not to think about that to do list that never ends, just being in the moment.”
- “My daily workout and manicure is my sanity. Helps me be a better mother, wife and me.”
- “Taking care of my skin. Every day. Even though it might be annoying at times, I make a point of it.”
- “Drinking enough water, everyday”
The common denominator? Do something that makes you feel good. Even if it’s hard. Or if easy and enjoyable. But don’t let life fly by and only be there to give and do for others without doing for yourself. Because, that can never last long.
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