My Self-Care Weekend
My self-care weekend may not sound like self-care to most of you. At least Baby A’s version of my self-care weekend. This past weekend, I rented an Airbnb by myself, and Baby A stayed with her Miss Lauren for the weekend. When I said goodbye to her Friday night, she gave me a kiss, waved goodbye and said, “mama going to the grocery store.” I returned home 42 hours later. I opened the door; she ran to me arms wide open with a huge smile on her face and said “mama home from the grocery store.” That was one LONG trip to the grocery store and thank goodness that is NOT how I spent my self-care weekend. Although for some of us, going to the grocery store ALONE is self-care, just not for 42 hours!
Self-care is SO important but it’s usually the last thing we do for ourselves. I hear so many people talking about self-care, there are so many classes and seminars on self-care. I attended a 6-hour conference on self-care in May. It was great and I learned a lot of tips, but I haven’t taken the time to implement one of them. The most self-care I got was the 6 hours during the conference when I wasn’t doing anything else.
I am not my best self when I get too tired or too stressed or don’t eat right and I know when I really do need to take a break. Self-awareness is good, right? But my last string is usually about to break when I do something about it. I recently reached that point, hence, my weekend away.
For all of you who are reading this and asked to come, sorry! I really did mean “by myself!” I really had no time to plan my weekend other than booking the Airbnb but that is what mattered most. I finally left Pittsburgh around 8:30 Friday night and got to my Airbnb around 10 p.m. I had planned on working some and I did. I just needed to get caught up. I knew I would feel better. Saturday morning, I didn’t get out of bed until 9:47! I couldn’t tell you the last time I slept past 7 a.m. and in most cases, past 6 a.m. I woke up early but just laid in bed with no child wanting breakfast or to jump on me or go drive across the Sewickley bridge! It was glorious! After I woke up late Saturday, I did some work and had a design session with our designer, which was great! Baby A Designs has a lot of exciting things happening that we will be telling you all about soon!
After finishing my work, I went to Ohiopyle State Park, got a smoothie, and laid on a blanket next to the water the rest of the afternoon! The weather was perfect, and I got to lay there and do absolutely nothing except enjoy nature. I stopped by a local café and grabbed dinner on my way back to the condo. Sunday morning, I didn’t get out of bed quite so late, but then finished some work and packed up to go home. My weekend may not sound relaxing to all of you with the word “work” in there, but I love all the work I do, and it is fun. In most cases I would rather do “work” instead of reading or watching TV. It’s how I am wired. I am not exactly wired to relax. BUT, taking the time away from “life” for a weekend was super important for me to feel recharged.
What I realized while I was gone is that work is invigorating to me, parenting is stressful which then leads to exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong, I love being mama to Baby A and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But that relaxing came to a blazing halt as I came back right before naptime so I could see her before she laid down. She hasn’t been going down well to sleep at all, so this had nothing to do with me being gone. I tried putting her down, she screamed, kicked the door continuously and that is SO stressful to me because it makes me so upset. I hate to see her cry. So, I went back into her bedroom and tried to get her to sleep. I should know better, this never works. She thinks it’s playtime. So, then I know she is not going to go to sleep with me in there, so I leave again, she screams, she is kicking the door so I turn up the music so I can’t hear it as much. Welcome back home! This is so much harder any day than my job. Mentally and physically! Welcome back to reality! And therefore, we need breaks and self-care. We can’t be our best selves with a screaming child who won’t go to sleep if we are depleted.
I started fostering to “give back” and help a child who needed a safe and loving home for a period. I never exactly thought a child would ever stay as long as Baby A has. I tell my friends when I am exhausted from chasing her around that all my foster placements were supposed to either be reunified with their birth parents or gone to their forever home before they ever walked. I clearly had zero understanding of how the foster care system worked when I made that statement. So, parenting for me is stressful and is exhausting even though I couldn’t image life without Baby A. So, getting away even for 42 hours without Baby A has left me feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready for the upcoming weeks of not feeling exhausted. I really missed her while I was away, but I knew she was in great hands and having a great time!
Girls’ weekends are great, trips away with your significant other are amazing, but there is nothing like getting away by yourself for at least 36 hours with no responsibilities and time to yourself to do whatever you want to do, whatever makes you feel relaxed, whatever rejuvenates you. I truly think it makes us better at who we are. When I am exhausted, when I am depleted, I am not going to be the best parent to Baby A and I am not going to be the best daughter, sister, friend or best anything for that matter.
So, I recommend doing a retreat by yourself at least once a year! After coming home and texting with my friend Shellyn, we are already planning a spa weekend in Arizona this winter. Those are important too! Who is in?? Some other self-care things I do more regularly and highly recommend:
1. Regularly scheduled babysitter: Find a babysitter if you don’t already have one, or find 2, and pick one day every other week that is a standing day and time for them to come watch your kids so you can go do something. My day was every other Monday with Miss Lauren from 6-8:30. Miss Lauren is heading to college and Mondays will now be swim lessons, so I will pick a new day with a new sitter. I do various things…sometimes I meet friends for dinner, sometimes I go for a walk, sometimes I run errands, but this is dedicated time I have allocated every other week that I know I can do something that maybe I am not able to do any other time.
2. Emergency Friend List: This is your friend you know you can call when you are having a bad day, bad week, bad month…We are all in this life together and it’s not always easy. Life is messy, life is hard. You need someone you can share that with and them not judge or have an opinion (unless you want one) You need this person to listen and go get a pedicure and ice cream with when you are having a bad day. I had a bad week recently. Well, Baby A did which then in turn made me have a bad week due to lack of sleep so by Friday night, I dropped her off with my mom and met my friend for a pedicure and grocery shopping. Just having those 3 hours away made a HUGE difference in how I felt and was thinking.
3. Prioritize Sleep: I need my sleep. It’s the one that that I won’t give up. I highly recommend that rule for you too. I am always in bed by 11. We are never our best selves when we are tired and can be super cranky, not eat as healthy, live off of caffeine and end up spiraling downward quickly. Pick a bedtime, pick a wake time and stick to it. Hold yourself accountable or have someone hold you accountable. It may take a little getting used too, but you will notice your sleep being so much better!
4. Regularly scheduled playdates: We do this and love it! We have a playdate with one of her friends every Tuesday evening. We do other playdates as well, but this is a routine for us both and we both miss it when something comes up and we must reschedule. Some days I just need to sit and talk with a friend while Baby A plays with their child. It is healthy because it allows you to see that most things you stress about are normal and your friend understands because they are a parent too!
5. Childless overnights: Have overnights periodically without your child(ren). This is healthy for you both. Even if it is once a quarter.
6. The normal self-care topics: Then there are the standard self-care activities such as exercising and eating healthy. You are on your own for these. I typically eat healthy, but I have been awful at exercising. I am going to start with a basic walk and every day, Baby A and I are going to go on a walk together. We started yesterday and already went for a walk this morning before daycare. While I should do this for me first, I want to do it, so I set a healthy example for Baby A on exercise. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but it will show her that it is healthy and a good habit.
If you are tired, struggling mentally as a parent, feeling like you can’t get out of bed, feeling like you aren’t a good parent to your child, feel that every other parent makes this look easy and it’s so hard for you, just try one of the things I list above if nothing else. Also, always feel free to email me at email@example.com. I think sometimes we are embarrassed to talk about how we feel because we don’t want to feel vulnerable, or we think it makes us look bad or weak or every other parent has it so together so we need to look that way too, but I can assure you that if every parent is honest with themselves, they have felt that way at some point as well and no one’s life is perfect. By talking about it and sharing, you may help another parent who is struggling and then doesn’t feel so bad so don’t keep it inside! I remember I used to always tell people when they asked how I was that I was great..now I answer honestly. I don’t need to give my entire life story, but I can say I am tired, I had a rough week, or I just need a break. And sometimes it’s hard to hide it because people can see that just from looking at us! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to ask for a break, you need them. Our bodies were created for rest as much as they were created for activity.
You got this! I hope this blog post helps and inspires at least one person reading it! In the comments below, we would love to hear what your self-care tips are! We can always learn from each other! We got this together!
A very special thank you to my friend Chelsea whose text last week encouraged me to write again. It’s been a while. Her foster baby is Baby A’s new obsession and I have really enjoyed our friendship.
This blog post is dedicated to my friend Marie who I spend more hours with than anyone else in my life as we work together and are great friends. I couldn’t imagine going through this craziness we call life without you! She is even worse than me at self-care! I don’t recommend going on a date night and then FacetTiming with your kids the entire time (only part of the time!) But her kids are awesome, so I understand! Marie, I hope this inspires you to do a little self-care.