SELF-CARE: IT BECOMES ME, AND IT CAN BECOME YOU TOO
The thing about juggling multiple roles – mother, wife, domestic goddess, sister, daughter, friend, valuable employee, CEO of light enjoyment, fitness enthusiast, meal prepping avoider, Chief Nutrition Officer, intermittent-fasting novice, reluctant digital social butterfly, budding entrepreneur, purposeful procrastinator, etc – is that it gets exhausting. It. is. Tiring.
Sometimes, at the end of a long week, I look at my little household and wonder what it would be like to live alone, something I never got to do since I moved out of my parents’ house when I got married. Sometimes, I envy single people who get to decide what they want to do with their free time – every single day. Those of you who can sleep in without being woken up toddler slaps that were gentle in their hearts but painful to wake up to; who have the luxury of thinking for one when trying to figure out what to have for dinner or include in the weekly shopping; those of you who look forward to the quiet of Sunday while the rest of us dread it because we have to care for and entertain our kid(s) the whole day, without taking a break.
It’s a lot. I didn’t know this was the level of adulting I was signing up for when I agreed to pursue married life and unlock another level of adulting. Instead, I’m being pursued by an endless list of responsibilities that leave very little time for me. Or at least they used to, until I decided I was tired of always giving and never filling my own cup.
I know you’ve heard it before but I‘m going to say it again: self-care is not selfish. You know what’s selfish? Expecting people to always put your needs before their own. As women, we’ve been groomed to view ourselves as the ever-consistent, cheerful, givers, never the ones receiving. To think it’s normal to put aside our own happiness and comfort in favour of the boyfriend’s, husband’s, children’s, parents’, pet’s.
Well you know what? I choose to be the ever-consistent, cheerful receiver of comfort, pleasure, luxury and treats. I choose to receive as much I give – and have no problem with receiving even more than I give when the opportunity presents itself. I choose to balance my pursuit of happiness with my willingness to take care of those around me, and to practice saying no without guilt or shame.
Where selfishness is a lack of consideration for others, self-care is about taking care of your own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
My pursuit of self-care has recently taken on an almost fervent approach. It is guilt-free. I’ll spend 1 hour enjoying my shower routine. I’ll set the playlist, light a candle, let the water run over me, luxuriate in that feeling of being covered in lavender-scented foam, then slather myself in a good lotion, cream, butter or body oil (whatever I’m feeling in that moment) and wear some good perfume – and that’s just for bedtime.
I’ll wear a face mask on a Monday just because I can. I’ll light a candle or diffuser while working. I’ll spend Saturday or Sunday morning in bed and have my breakfast brought up to me. I’ll work out 3-4 times a week, sometimes 5 if I’m up to it – and I don’t feel guilty about choosing to sweat in the gym over walking Gong to her school bus in the morning because her dad does it anyway. Plus, the bus stops right at our gate, I hardly think she’ll miss me for those 15 metres she walks from the front door. I’ll take solo walks in the morning or evening, listening to a podcast or music or having a conversation with a friend.
I’ll spend time away from my husband – even when we’re together in the house – because being around each other every waking moment is just not healthy for us. Space is the gift that keeps on giving, especially when you both work from home. You know what happens when you don’t give each other space? You start noticing little things and getting irritated by them You start wondering how you allowed yourself to get married to a man who doesn’t fluff the pillows right, or who keeps moving your shower gel. You get petty, and it’s not cute.
One of my absolute favourite things to do, every 3 weeks without fail, is spend a whole day doing my hair and nails. It’s a full day affair. 2 hours for my hair with Zac at Art Zack Salon, and 5-6 hours for my mani-pedi at Luxe Nail Parlour. Yes, I know it’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it. My nails are a commitment – my love language to myself. It probably sounds like a really shallow thing to focus on, but there are times when everything has been going to shit; when I’ve struggled with work, with motherhood, with marriage, with body image and bad skin, and I’ve felt like the only thing I can control is how my nails look. So I invest in them, because it makes me feel good. And I deserve to feel good, we all do.
Tell me, how do you take care of yourself. What’s the one thing you love to do that’s just for you, and do you ever feel guilty about it?
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The Cultured Cow