Heard of self care recently?
Okay, who am I kidding? Of COURSE you’ve heard of self-care.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard all the reid on self care: it is important, it’s not important, don’t overindulge, it’s not overindulging, don’t be selfish, it’s not selfish, etc.
So instead of talking about all of that, let’s take a back-door tour of self-care.
Let’s talk about you.
Know Thine Self:
If the first rule of parenting is Know Thine Rules, then the first rule of life is Know Thine Self.
I know, you’ve been living with yourself for the past 20, 30, 40 odd years, but really, honestly, do you know yourself?
Now, before you stop reading right here and write off this whole post (Yes, Chaya Shifra, I really do honestly know myself), I challenge you to hang ‘round till the end and see if there may be more to explore here.
Because oftentimes, especially as a child and young adult, we form our view of ourselves by those around us; and, for many of us, by the time we’d entered adulthood, we were gifted with this roller coaster ride called motherhood. We hardly had a chance to get to know ourselves before needing to meet the many and varied needs of our children.
But mothering children is one of the most crucial stages in your life that you’ll really need to know yourself: in order to be the mother that you want to be for your children, knowing yourself has to come first.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll read some ways that we can know ourselves, starting with our physical needs, and how they relate to mothering.
What Your Self Needs Physically
I’ve lost count of the number of women I’ve spoken to who tell me that “I can manage on 5 hours of sleep just fine.”
Of the people who say that, “Yeah, I don’t really drink water…”
And I know personally how hard it is to make time for exercise and make sure that I have three real meals every day.
We all have different physical limits; each one of our bodies react differently to different types of stimuli or restrictions.
So while one person might, externally, seem to be “fine” on just 5 hours of sleep, or somehow not get “hangry” even when ravenously hungry, the facts on the ground tell us that you will not function optimally when you’re not meeting your body’s needs.
So I challenge you to notice your needs:
Do you feel tired at all throughout the day? If so, when? Jot it down somewhere.
Are you noticing yourself get a second wind or boost at 8 pm? At 10 pm? Could it be that your “night-owl”-ness is actually overtiredness? Or a natural boost from the circadian cycle -- despite your tiredness?
Do you notice your hunger cues during the day? Do you tend to feed yourself when you’re hungry, or just ignore it till you can’t handle it anymore? Do you eat breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?
If 10 was overstuffed and 0 was ravenous, how often do you get lower than a 3?
And try to notice feeling thirsty. Do you feel it? Does it all come on at night because you haven’t drunk enough during the day? Or do you not even feel it at all?
You’ll know that your body is actually getting the hydration it needs when your morning pee is pale in color. Take a moment to notice tomorrow morning. If it’s a deep yellow, try to notice thirst throughout the day -- and drink something when you feel it.
And how about movement? How do you feel when you get movement into your day or week? How do you feel when you don’t?
To begin noticing, start small, or as my 5th grade teacher said: eat the elephant bite by bite.
Choose one small thing for today, one small area that you’ll get to know yourself.
Knowing Your Physical Needs and Mothering
As with all of our needs, knowing our physical needs, and meeting them, enables us to function optimally, so that we can best and easiest be present as a mother in our children’s lives (as well as filling all the many other roles we play).
Hunger and tiredness affect our ability to execute proper judgement - especially of the split-second variety. Inadequate hydration, movement and nutrition will affect our health. Meeting our physical needs properly will also fill us up with the feel-good hormones that naturally occur in our bodies, making it easier for us to be present, enjoy being with our children, and make the many tasks we have easier to carry out.
But beyond that, knowing our physical needs, and meeting our physical needs makes us more aware of our children’s needs, helping us raise children who are attuned to their needs and know when and how to meet them.
Perhaps even more importantly, consistently meeting our own needs models, for our children, how to take care of their own bodies.
Seeing the bigger picture
“We’re not raising babies. We’re raising tomorrow’s adults.”
That’s why the KinderWink method looks at the whole bigger picture - not just your baby’s bedtime, but also you, your baby in the longer term, and meeting all of your children’s needs.
Making moments throughout the day that you can notice - and meet! - your needs is a ripple effect that can have a long-term impact on your children for the months and years to come.
So tell me: what are you going to notice?