Welcome back! A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post starting off a conversation on the importance of self care. I know from experience, that when I don't take care of myself, I'm not a good mom or counselor. But it is so difficult to find the time or money or motivation to take care of myself when I'm a busy foster mom.
So, this February I challenged you to join me in taking some time to not just focus on loving others, but also yourself. So now that the valentines have all been delivered, what will you do for you? The first post I wrote were some of my ideas, but recently I have spoken with some other foster / adoptive parents and asked how they take care of themselves. Here is a list of eleven ideas that are realistic and practical and recommended by parents in my community, just like you! I have also tried to include a number of links if you are looking for more information on that topic so read and click away!
1. Maybe you thought you would start working out in January... and you didn’t. Maybe you got a gym membership, but you never use it. Maybe you thought about a gym membership, but cannot afford it. I would really encourage you to try to get one. Let me explain. It's not about weight loss, it's about self care. Now if you want to work out or take a yoga class there that is great, but you don't even have to work out. See, most fitness centers now have child care. So once you have a membership, you can drop off your kiddos and then find a comfy spot to sit. You can read a book, organize your to do list in peace, sip a cup of coffee while listening to some music. You can do whatever you need. You could even work out if you wanted! Check out your local YMCA or community center and try for a scholarship, if appropriate. I got this idea from another foster mom who does this all the time and I love it!
2. Get outside. If it is cold where you live right now consider just going for a short walk around the block. Spending time outside in the cold fresh air can really help you feel better. Maybe after you walk the kids to the bus stop, you keep going around the block one time. If you live somewhere warm enough to actually go outside, find a nice quiet spot in nature (especially if you can find a bit of water in a stream or lake). You can find a quiet spot and just sit there for a bit. Perhaps just take some deep breaths, or do some journaling or reading. But getting out of the house for 20 - 30 minutes and enjoying the outdoors is wonderful, free, self care.
3. Investigate what is covered under your insurance benefits and see how much a massage or acupuncture will cost you. If you haven’t checked it out, you may be missing out. Have you tried it before? This might be a good month to schedule a session and see if it works for you.
4. Consider making your bedroom a kid free zone. In our home, we have a small, simple rule that you have to knock on my bedroom door before you come in. We have really tried to guard our space like that. We find that when our bedrooms are kid free zones, we can relax in there. There are no toys on the floor, it is my space.
5. Create a special spot in your home, just for you. Maybe it is a corner in your bedroom or a nook in a small unused part of the house or backyard. Consider adding a small water fountain, essential oil diffuser, bluetooth speaker, or comfy blanket this month to really make that spot more of your sanctuary. One day last year I used a 20% off coupon and picked up this furry grey blanket on a whim. Now it has transformed an old chair in my bedroom into a little cozy sanctuary just for me. What do you need to slow down and get cozy?
6. Pour yourself a glass of wine while making dinner. Don’t just bake those chicken nuggets, do some self care while you are cooking and enjoy a nice glass of vino! I often find the simple act of pouring and sipping a glass of wine at the end of a difficult day to be very relaxing. It makes the most mundane task feel important. If you prefer non alcoholic drinks, pour yourself a glass of something fun or sparkling, but use a fancy glass. The other day I enjoyed some lime flavoured LaCroix in a wine glass and it worked just as well! Click here to discover one of my fav bottles of wine.
7. On the same idea, remember to give yourself a coffee or tea break. Other jobs allow their staff to take a break, so make sure you do as well. Buy yourself a nice brand of coffee or tea (I’m a tea girl myself) and when you feel those stressful moments coming on, put the laundry down and take a break for you. I am normally an English Breakfast cuppa tea girl, but lately I have also been trying some caffeine free herbal teas to help reduce my stress. Wherever you are and whatever you like to drink, pour a nice cuppa something warm, sit down, take three deep breaths and actually enjoy the aroma and taste.
8. Pet your pet. If you have a cuddly friend in your house, take some time this month to really snuggle. Research shows, petting a furry friend releases oxytocin in your brain which will allow you to feel more calm and will reduce your blood pressure. This is my little guy and he is sure able to do that for our family!
9. Watch a funny video. We seem to have our phones with us all the time (for good and for bad). The next time you have a few moments to kill while you are waiting to pick up a kiddo, instead of scrolling through social media, put on something to make you laugh! You will be in a much better mood when you child flops into the car. I love me some Jim Gaffigan.
10. Another fun idea is to use music to help you feel better. I have always been a music girl. My mom and grandmother were singers and when I was little my dream was to be an opera singer. So this one comes naturally for me, but maybe not so much for you. Here is your challenge... Find some time to sing and dance this month! Come on you can do it, Sing it out! Loud and strong. Singing is a way to force your body to take some deep breaths, but it is also a great way to reduce your stress. So create a playlist of songs that bring you joy and put it on anytime you need a boost. Singing and dancing around the house will help you get through another tough day.
11. I picked an easy one to finish out this list. Have you ever tried to colour a mandala? It is easier than singing! Mandalas are specifically designed colouring activities to relax your mind. These days colouring books like the one pictured here are available everywhere so you should be able to find some. So grab some crayons (or I love the Crayola twistables) and pick a colouring book or print off a free printable to enjoy on your next self care break alone or together with the kids.
So, that is your full list of 21 self care ideas. Most are free or inexpensive, most will not take a lot of time, you can totally do this. Pick one and make it a habit, so you are taking care of you, so you can take care of them.
As always, if you are interested in talking through the struggle of self care in a more personal way, consider scheduling a parent coaching session. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up an hour to chat and come up with some solutions to help you reduce your stress.