I haven’t run since June. J-U-N-E. It’s November. Almost two full seasons have passed. Five months. Whoa. As this very real piece of my reality waved over me,I stood in the shower this morning and recalled another another significant number. The number of days it’s been since I’ve taken a shower. THREE. Yikes. Those poor parents at story time. Whoa. Time to run, mama, R-U-N.
Perhaps you’ve seen it. I know I’ve lived it. The mom who enters the grocery store, cell phone in one hand, baby in another, purse wildly dangling from her shoulder. Her hair in a lopsided ponytail (perhaps some reminisce from playing “hairdresser” with her toddler), and she smiles all the same while pulling a shopping with her right foot, balancing her precious cargo with her left. Ah…the great balancing act. Many of us live it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and by the grace of God, we attempt to manage it all. However, without fail, we also manage to forgo one key factor in this crazy balancing act: OURSELVES. Yes…Y.O.U. ME, I, the forgotten, the abandoned, the wounded without the advance of chicken noodle soup to calm our souls. The one left lying in bed at night making lists and figuring the schedule out for the holidays months in advance. YES…Y.O.U. You remember her, right?
To Run or Not to Run….
I love running but I don’t consider myself a runner. Let me clarify by saying I’m not the get up at five a.m., strap on sneakers in twenty-degree weather, (although those runners are my heroes), get up and go kind of runner. I’ve never run a marathon or even a half marathon. Honestly, 5k’s are usually my BFF’s and, honestly, I haven’t been a great best friend to those either… not since five months ago. I’m the runner who loves to run but puts everything else above it. Honestly, I get caught up balancing everything else that I even forgo showering at times. Somewhat commendable but, as time wears on, so does my ability to balance everything and feel good about it. Essentially, I needed to return to those things that make me…well, ME.
The Ah-Ha Moment
Self reflection is not necessarily my forte. OK, there were times when I would pause to make a mental note whilst whipping by a mirror that low lights were great if your hairdresser purposely puts them in. But these “pauses” were simply not enough. Eventually, after weeks of going and going, I would inevitably become irritable and after a month, I finally realized, why I was slowly losing my gumption, my ability to be more positive. I actually hadn’t been out alone to go running, shopping, reading, or even to simply sing out loud in the car without the occasional “mama can you please NOT sing” requests in over FOUR WEEKS. Ah-ha.
So this is WHAT Self Reflection Looks Like…
After some serious contemplation, I went upstairs to do something, anything that might trigger a starting point. So, I started with the most obvious (and easiest), the mirror. My hairdresser hadn’t seen my face (or sparklers that were starting to sprout), in about a year. Hmph. In the midst of some rather vain self reflection and excitement by my revelation of possibilities ( do I goto the gym, grab a pedi, or a wax of any kind), it dawned on me. There it was. Staring at me-stubble and all, (yes, I needed to shave my legs too), all I needed to do was to take care of ME. I needed to be my best in order to be everyone’s best. That could mean an array of things.
Treasures NOT Chores
I wanted it all. The most perfect balance between wife, mommy, friend, and myself (or as close as I could find it for myself). I wanted to feel great about teaching my kids day in and out, all while knowing I could leave and go for a solid run and maybe, just maybe, pick up on that book I put down in 2010 (true story…I’m staring at it lodged under some crafting materials as we speak). I recently stumbled upon an article about self-care in parenting in the Washington Post where writer Lindsey Roberts really resonated with what I was discovering that night. She simply states that being on and ready for your children at all times can cause burnout and make things that could be everyday treasures feel like everyday chores. Wow. A chore? EEK. I certainly didn’t want to get to the point where spending time with my “littles” felt like a chore. I loved it. I mean genuinely. every. second. That’s when it dawned on me that this could very well effect my family as well. That’s when I felt the good ol’ kick in the tush to change-and quick.
Take care, YOU
Remember that line in Pretty Woman where “Vivienne” (Julia Roberts) tells her best friend “Kit” to “take care, you”? Well, as ridiculously corny as it may seem, for some reason, that line continually popped into my head as I continued to think about how I really needed to take care of ME. That it wasn’t a selfish act to take care of myself and, that in fact, it was a necessity.
Self-Care is NOT Selfish
In that same Washington Post article, Roberts offers a salient reminder to erase the guilt and remember that self-care is NOT selfish. When was the last time you grabbed a sitter so you could do something because you liked it? How about asked your spouse or partner for alone time? Below are some quick tips which combine some things I’ve tried and LOVED as well as some ideas from Roberts to help you get back to being YOU:
As soon as I discovered that all I really need was some “me time” I spoke with my husband to try to work out one day a week where I could get some “daylight” hours alone. Prior to this, I was getting out a little here and there…but at 9:00 at night.I felt like some strange nocturnal mommy who never sees daylight alone. We were able to work out Tuesdays as my day to get out (in fact this week, I got a haircut and highlights! YAY!)
If the weekly day out doesn’t work for your schedules right away, start slow and choose a day every other week or on the weekend where you can snag a sitter or family member.
So, what do you do when you finally DO get that moment to yourself again? Grab a coffee? Go for a run? Call a friend? If you’re like me, it’s been way too long since I ventured out alone and even longer since I even entertained a thought of what it is I like to do when I am alone. I made a list that answered these questions:
- What are things I really enjoy? (Think-outside or inside? Crafting or Biking?)
- A place I love to go? FOR ME.
- Do I need alone time or a space that has many people?
Right at the top of my list–the gym. Not because I thought I needed to lose a few pounds, but rather because, for me, that was where I knew I could start to revive my running and a little piece of me. So, without hesitation,(or much money in my pocket), I opened up a membership at a nearby YMCA to jump start running again (I run treadmills in the winter..I know, I know–I haven’t broken into the cold yet).
Some of us find pure bliss in the idea of getting outside to fulfill our much needed alone time. Others need time alone, simply at home. Figure out what will help you to feel more refreshed as an individual–then ask for it!
Run if you wanna Run….
Is this a perfect system-NOPE! I balance my new found weekly “three hours for me” figuring out which road I would enjoy most (a quiet gaze at the magazines at Barnes and Nobles or go for a run at the gym). However, I DO know that if I want to run, I’ve got the time and, by golly, I’m gonna run.