I started this year with the intention of learning how to be happy and how to take care of myself. At the time, I didn’t know I was getting a divorce or about to experience all of the changes and challenges that go along with it. Can I tell you how grateful I am that I had set the intention to learn to be happy before that happened? I can’t promise I would have been wallowing in self-pity and despair if I hadn’t, but it’s certainly a lot more likely.
So, one of my major questions has been how to engage in self care when I’m with my son. I’m a stay at home mom and he’s only three. Even though he’s great at independent play, most of my time is spent with him. How do I take care of me and my son at the same time?
Here’s my top 10:
- Take deep breaths. When we’ve been running errands, it’s near the end of the day and energy is low, Cavanaugh’s hungry or sleepy, I’m feeling impatient, or any other circumstance you can name where just taking a minute is advisable, sometimes I remember to take deep breaths. Cavanaugh takes them with me. He’ll even suggest we take them occasionally.
- Go for a walk with the jogging stroller. I get exercise. He gets adventure. If he doesn’t want to be in the stroller, he can run alongside it. On the way back from the park the other day, he ran along yelling, “Hi grass. Hi roly poly. Hi garden.” Endorphins. Oxygen. Nature.
- Vacuum. Cavanaugh gets his popper and I get my vacuum and we have races, bump into each other and get the living room clean.
- Create something. It’s so easy to think my creativity has to take a backseat to mothering. Doing beadwork or crochet doesn’t work together right now, but Cavanaugh loves to paint with me. He tells me what shapes to make and then he colors them in. Or he draws things and tells me a story about what they are. Pretty soon, we have characters, a scene, and a whole plot going. It might not be the poem I would have written on my own, but it uses the same part of me.
- Go out for a treat. Whether it’s the bagel shop for lunch or the coffee shop for a latte and chocolate milk, sitting across the table from each other in the middle of the day somewhere outside our house means we have conversations we don’t have any other time.
- Notice nature. We lie in the hammock and Cavanaugh drives his trains up my legs while I look at the trees. Eventually, he checks out the trees too. Or we go outside to say goodnight to the moon. Or we watch butterflies at the park or in our yard. Slowing down to just pay attention and be in nature centers us both.
- Sing. Sing a narrative of what you’re doing: “We’re walking up the stairs to look for Pigeon. We hope we can find him there.” Cavanaugh sings too. It’s like a musical with conversation in song.
- Drink water. We both get our glasses and drink at the same time, big delicious gulps of icy cold water. We pick up our cups and drink together again. We both drink more this way and it feels like a game.
- Chase a ball. Our favorite new game is to go to the basketball court with a big bouncy ball and throw it to each other than chase it. We get super silly, exercise, time outside, and play time together.
- Read with Cavanaugh before he goes to sleep and then lie in the bed after he’s asleep and read a book for me.