It is something I am not good at.
I try at times.
I was part of a MOPS group for ten years…until one of my children’s behavior became so bad (think: biting and at age three going toe to toe against a grown man) that I could no longer expect the childcare workers to deal with my child’s special needs.
For years I met with two friends for coffee every Thursday night. “Thursdays are sacred” was our motto. Then came divorce, puberty (for the kids, not us), long-drawn-out medical issues. First, we skipped one Thursday and then another until our small group disbanded.
Homeschooling for fifteen years meant I was with my children 24/7. I loved spending all day with my children (it is a big part of the reason we homeschooled in the first place) but it meant ducking out for coffee with a friend or a quick lunch nearly impossible.
In 2011 I started running every day during Apollo’s nap time. I would put him down and leave my older kids in charge for half an hour. That stopped after his MRI where he developed extreme anxiety around sleep. From that day forward he would only nap while being held.
Chuck and I have tried in-home date nights, but with a houseful of teens (five at the moment), even this is hard. Or this happens.
Last week I was going to meet a friend for coffee (after having to reschedule several times). When the day arrived and the SUN (what’s that?) was peeking though I asked if she would mind skipping the coffee and going for a walk. She was game, so off we went. It felt so good to be in the fresh air, walking, chatting with a friend…I promised myself I would redouble my efforts and focus more on self-care.
It felt so good to be in the fresh air, walking, chatting with a friend…I promised myself I would redouble my efforts and focus more on self-care.
That afternoon I started a self-care Pinterest board to collect ideas. And I formulated a plan.
How to Manage Self-Care with a Large Family and Special Needs:
And then plan again. And again. And then again.
I could not even begin to the list the number of times I have planned a little “self-care” and the school has called to ask me to pick up a sick kid. Or a kid with a behavior issue. Or my husband is suddenly sick. Or another surgery is planned. Or someone’s appendix ruptures.
In other words, be persistent and make it happen.
Or Be Spontaneous
In my busy, complicated life, sometimes being spontaneous is actually easier. Saturday afternoon after our weekly torture session (some people call this cleaning up…but not my kids) I got a message from some of our favorite friends wanting to know if we wanted to get together since they were free. Chuck, always the comedian, said, it’s a good thing they’re free since we’re broke.
They brought half a dozen kids…
…some really cool camera equipment…
…and a puppy.
Look at Asa! Isn’t he the cutest? Frodo was scared to death of him…even though he was 1/4 his size. Silly Frodo.
We spent the afternoon talking, playing with Greg’s cameras, eating and drinking coffee. It was awesome, refreshing and totally unplanned.
Because sometimes the best things in life are surprises.
Fuel Your Body
I’ve found my body loves a big salad for lunch. I try to keep them prepped in my fridge but when I can’t do that, I buy premade salads. Other things I like to have on hand are kombucha (which can sadly be expensive), veggies with hummus and rice cakes and peanut butter (I love peanut butter).
When those aren’t cutting it for self-care there is always chocolate and coffee.
Get Rid of Aches and Pains
Let’s just say when you have broken your tailbone twice (once at summer camp and once giving birth) sometimes you need something for the aches that unfortunately catch up with you. Between lower back pain and chronic pelvic pain, even walking can be painful.
Lately, I’ve been using Biofreeze® for my lower back pain. I like Biofreeze® because it works at the source of the pain (non-systemically), is non-narcotic, and contain no NSAIDs, salicylates or addictive substances (always a bonus!). It gives me relief and allows me to avoid taking a pill (I hate taking any kind of medicine).
Biofreeze® products are as effective as ice for treating pain but without a messy, dripping bag of ice and it doesn’t make my body cold like ice does.
I was at my parents’ house for lunch recently and told my mom about Biofreeze® . She asked to try it (she suffers from arthritis) and got experienced almost immediate relief! In fact, she felt so much better I left the bottle with her.
Splurge on a New Book
I am an avid reader. Once a month I treat myself to a new book for my Kindle. In between, I visit the library. I read mostly non-fiction and love to browse the new book section of the library.
What are your best tips for self-care…when you are busy caring for others?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.