Sometimes it isn’t feasible to go out for a girls’ night or a massage. Sometimes I am stuck in the house for what seems like days on end, the only outings are school drop off, doctors appointments, and grocery store runs. It can feel very frustrating and lonely to be constantly on duty as caretaker and home manager.
Self care is such an important thing but it often feels out of reach. If only I could get an hour all-the-way to myself, I think. If only I didn’t have to wake up eleventy billion times a night I could go out. My parents urged me to go out to the movies one Saturday night and it didn’t seem worth it to stay out late, losing more sleep and then feeling worse the next day.
So how can I take care of myself? How can I deal with the day to day stress of managing a house with young kids?
I have decided to give myself little gifts throughout the day, every day. Little things that make me happy and take almost no time away from all the other things I have to do. Maybe once in a while I will get out for a haircut or out for dinner with friends, but these are things I can do every day to keep me feeling sane.
1. In the morning I take a shower in a warm bathroom.
When it’s cold in the house, I put the space heater on low in the bathroom; there’s nothing like stepping out of the shower into warm air. Sometimes in order to shower I have to strap the baby into the rocker with some toys and keep the shower curtain partially open so I can play peek-a-boo between rinses and repeats. Sometimes it means leaving the 3.5 year old twins in their room with toys and hoping for the best. But I SHOWER. And the bathroom is warm. And it feels wonderful.
2. I make the bed.
It seems like something small but there is something really relaxing about going to sleep at night in a made bed. I keep the bottom of the sheets tucked in to the end of the bed so it is easy to flip the blankets back into place. Everything feels a little more in control with a neat bed.
3. I eat a delicious breakfast every day.
I found a breakfast combo that is fast, easy to make, healthy, and delicious. Greek yogurt with blueberries and a sprinkle of granola can all be made and eaten in less than 10 minutes if need be, and it is good and very filling. Also, I can shovel that delicious breakfast into my mouth with one hand while holding a baby in the other hand if I have to. The blueberries and granola give me a quick blood sugar boost so I don’t get hangry, and the unsweetened greek yogurt keeps me full. Finding an easy delicious breakfast means I start my day every day eating something I enjoy with no guilt.
4. I drink delicious tea every day.
I love tea and I love to drink my tea out of my favorite mugs. In the morning I drink vanilla tea and it tastes like cookies (this only enhances my already delicious breakfast). To me, tea feels like another tasty thing I can enjoy with no guilt, even in the evening I can have herbal teas.
5. I put up a bird feeder.
I am stuck in the house a lot. This gets lonely sometimes, staring at the same few walls. We recently put up a bird feeder outside one of the dining room windows and I love watching all the birdie drama. I love how the sparrows get together in a big group and jump back and forth from tree to feeder, and then the cardinal gets uppity and tries to shoo them away. It’s quiet, relaxing entertainment, while I sit and drink my tea and eat my yogurt. Bonus: if the kids are being crazy, I can redirect them to watch whatever is going on at the feeder outside.
6. I go outside.
When my twins were babies, sometimes this meant sitting on the stoop with the monitor with a magazine while they napped. Sometimes it meant walking to the grocery store, or going on a walk for them to sleep in the stroller. Now, with my twins in school and a new baby, sometimes I take her outside to the yard just to sit in the sun, or maybe I will take her for a walk in the carrier. On the days I make it outside, I am often a more patient mommy.
7. I have a stash of chocolate in the kitchen and it is just for me.
I keep the chocolate in an out-of-reach place so even I need a stool to get to it, which keeps little fingers away and also keeps me from sitting and eating an entire bar in one sitting. Whenever I need it, I go get myself a little chocolatey treat. Because I deserve it.
8. I mix in my music into the kids’ music playlist on my phone.
I had to do some editing to make sure nothing was in the songs I didn’t want to hear them saying later (this happened once by accident!). But it is nice to mix it up between kids music and adult music in the car, in the house, or during bath time. One minute we are hearing Little Bunny Foo Foo, the next Stairway to Heaven. It’s all good.
9. I found some hard-to-kill plants and put them in the sunniest room in the house.
It’s nice to feel some low pressure responsibility, and looking at the plants is very calming. I keep a small watering can out by the plants and whenever I remember I pour a little water in the plants – sometimes this is a perfect activity to do while holding a fussy baby, since they also get excited about the plants and forget why they’re fussing. (So far I have had success with: philodendron, spider plant, jade, wandering jew, rubber tree)
These are just a few ways I take care of myself every day. How do you do self care around the house?
Robin Sheldon is an artist and therapist, currently staying at home full time with her big kid twins, new baby, and two cats while her husband hunts and gathers. According to her children, her job is making breakfast and packing lunches, what makes her happy is hugs, and her favorite food is cookies. Pretty accurate! For more articles by Robin on Twiniversity, click here.