When I was a mom with a house full of kids, I heard all about how a mother has to care for herself or she’ll have nothing left to care for her children.
And I took that to heart. I went to bed when the kids did. No staying up until 3AM for me. If I didn’t get all the housework done, oh well. Getting rest was important to me. I needed to be refreshed for the onslaught that was coming the next day.
I ate well. When I was passing out apples at the playground, there was one there for me. I sat and ate dinner with the kids every evening.
I got plenty of exercise simply running after toddlers and taking children to various activities. I didn’t have a car for much of their childhood, so I was pushing a stroller and walking and heaving stuff and kids onto public transit or riding a bike with a kid on the back.
The kids thrived. I thrived. The house, not so much. But, I’d send them all out with my husband every once in a while so I could zoom through the house like a reverse cyclone, restoring order from chaos.
Then they all moved out, one by one, and I had all the time in the world.
And I didn’t take care of myself. I stayed up late, because I could, but I still got up early because there was a dog to walk. I didn’t have to make decent dinners every day, so I started living on whatever I could scrounge from the fridge. I didn’t have many outside appointments, so I spent a lot of time sitting. Because I could. I could have kept the house cleaner, but I didn’t.
I was supposed to be writing a book, but I wasn’t doing that, either.
Turns out it’s not just mothers who need to attend to self-care in order to do their jobs. Everyone functions better when they take care of themselves.
So, I went back to my regular wake/sleep cycle, the one I had when the kids were little. Early to bed, early to rise. It works for me. I walk every day in the woods with the husband and the dog. I still don’t own a car, so when I go somewhere it’s feet, bike, or public transit. I eat well (most of the time). I even have a skin care routine! My office is organized and dust-free, so I have a nice place to create.
I finished the book and I’m working on second. I also read for pleasure a lot more, almost as much as I did as a kid. That’s been lovely.
The house is still an uphill battle, but I don’t think that will ever change.