As I was preparing for a speaking engagement, I reflected on my own self care journey. Let me take you back almost 8 years and paint a picture for you. I had just had my first son and I was figuring out the whole mom thing. I remember one evening (which in retrospect it had to have been the first night or two at home) I woke up to him crying. I changed his diaper, fed him and then of course had to change his diaper again. My mom was staying a couple of nights to help me and she would get up and make sure I didn't need anything. My husband would get up and make sure I didn't need anything. Don't worry I didn't accept their help! I'm a mom and I definitely knew what I was doing and didn't need help. First of all, for those of you that don't have kids, I'm being sarcastic. I was a zombie. I thought I was going to die from lack of sleep. It took me until my THIRD child to really get this. I don't have to be unable to receive help. I don't have to be dying of lack of sleep before I use my resources.
This concept of filling your cup is NOT a new one and I get that. What I want you to envision is a cup GLUED to a table. You cannot pick the cup up and pour it out. The cup gets filled by the things that make you tick. The things that make you want to get up in the morning or the things that make you feel energetic and fulfilled if you participate or engage in them. Let's be crystal clear here. YOU fill your cup. No one else fills your cup. If you feel like your cup is filled after spending time with a loved one- THEY did not fill your cup. Connection did.
The first quest is to find out what makes you tick. What is something that makes you feel so fulfilled and full of life? Maybe it's painting or running? Does it light you up and reduce your stress? This may take some time getting to know yourself a little bit. What you used to like when you were 17 may not be the same thing that you enjoy now. I like to call this updating your software. Although, there are so many times we see ourselves as that young girl or boy. We need to upgrade our software. Do we know what YOU as a mother of 5 who works part time enjoys? We should constantly be doing upgrades because we are always changing. Life experiences happen and they mold and shape us.
The second quest is to actually begin or commit to filling it. We can't continue to hope someone will drop a little in our cup here and there. We can't keep believing that it is admirable to have an empty cup because that means you give to others. You CANNOT give to others what you do not posses. If you want to give someone a dozen eggs, then you have to go out and buy a dozen eggs to give them. It's the same with YOU. You cannot give it away if you don't have it. And you're not a hero if you have an empty cup, so please stop telling yourself that you don't/shouldn't fill your cup first. There is a reason the flight safety instructions include securing your own oxygen mask first. This does not mean that your life is more important than a child. You will be of no help if you are blacked out. The same with life. You cannot help someone else if you have nothing left to give because you are so run down.
Third quest is to fill your cup so much that it spills over where you can bless others with your self care. Think of this a two for one special! You take care of yourself and others around you benefit! How sweet is that. That ends up being LESS work for you in the long run. This isn't easy because prior to the update you may have picked your cup up and emptied it out for whoever asked. BUT you are updating your software and understand your value, worth and that you matter- therefore, you take care of yourself everyday!
Lastly, self care does NOT have to look like Maui once a year. In fact, I think that is a false sense of self care. I believe that something has to be put into your cup everyday. Take your car for instance, you probably drive it about everyday. You wouldn't fill it up, do maintenance and wash/clean it once a year and expect it to run perfectly. It's the same with you! What do you expect out of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally? If you expect to give of yourself in some way everyday, then you must put back in an equal amount. My practice is 20 minutes a day! It's simple and attainable. The time is declared and it's mine. I can read a book, take a bath, meditate, nap or whatever I want. The kids and hubby know that it's my time and they support that. Why? Because they love who I am when I am done taking care of myself. Remember the 2 for 1 deal. They are the beneficiaries and they like what they get because I take care of myself.
Now is this easy? Not at all. Do I skip days? Yes I do. Do I notice when I skip days? MOST DEFINITELY. You matter enough to take care of yourself first above anyone else. Try 20 minutes at whatever point in the day is most beneficial/needed and see what happens. You may find that you can have more joy, peace and contentment in your life simply by taking a few intentional minutes to yourself each day.
You matter. You have value. You are worth taking care of. Start today and your loved ones will thank you.