When you have a two and a three year-old, a full-time job and a house to manage, things can get, well, a little overwhelming.
Of course, this is, in many ways, no different from the life of an average working parent. However, the contrast being that for me, when I’m on-call for 96 hours straight, at any given time, I have to be able to drop everything and be catching a baby within ten minutes of getting that call. Life on a short tether.
In an effort to maximize my time at home with the kids, I also do a lions share of overnight work, either in our ER or on the phone covering the region’s nursing stations servicing some 30,000 people.
As a result, I sleep little, I loose my patience more that I’d like to admit and free time is a limited, precious commodity.
As a working Mom, most parents can empathize with the fact that when you’re time crunched, the last person that you focus on is yourself. Laundry, grocery shopping, endless tidying up and all the mental energy that it takes to run a home takes precedent in the tiny timeframe wedged between the minute that the kids are in their beds and when my head finally hits the pillow.
Last September though, I read an article that really inspired me. Still wallowing in my post-partum body (a year and a half after the fact!), I had yet to really carve out dedicated time for myself to get back to the gym. The story really hit home for me. A young working mom with two kids of similar ages to mine, had made a commitment to herself and had begun a dedicated practice of working out, just 28 minutes a day, five days a week all in the wee hours of the early morning in her kitchen.
I thought, I can do that! No fancy gym, minimal equipment, reasonable time commitment. I remember downloading the ‘Sweat’ app, the exercise program that the @tofitspo had used on my phone that night. I dragged out Blake’s free weights, my yoga mat and set up a small workout area in our basement. I set the alarm for 5:15am, and went to bed.
The next morning, I stealthily rolled out of bed in sloth-like fashion as to not wake Blake. I took a picture of myself in the mirror to document the beginning, then got to work.
For the next three months, I committed to three 28-minute 5am workouts a week and then tried to squeeze in an hour of walking or some other activity (hauling laundry?!) at least once a week. I completed the 12-week program without missing one workout. I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.
12 weeks of showing up for myself, and myself only.
Not only had I shed the inches and could do up my pre-baby jeans again, I was shocked that I had persisted in putting myself as a priority. In getting up at 5am, I would finish my workout, shower, drink my coffee in silence and have a clear mind and calm attitude for when the kids awoke. Mornings went smoother, and I felt less frenzied.
Now, 9 months along, I have continued my dedicated practice, no longer motivated by my jean size, but empowered by my improving strength and commitment to self-care. I have realized, that I AM worth it and regardless of the obstacles (and trust me, there are many!), I will continue to make myself a priority.
So, if you are struggling to make time for you, realize that you can indeed make a change too.
Perhaps your idea of self-care may not be to workout, but maybe to meditate, to go for a quiet walk, to read a few chapters of your book, take a bath. Whatever it may be, create a goal, break it down into small manageable chunks, make a plan and commit!
Trust me, if I can do it, you can to.
I would love to hear of your goals and your ways of squeezing a bit of self-care into your lives because everyone needs a little inspiration!