Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking Care

When I was in university I got depressed, not alike a little bit depressed but like clinically depressed, the kind of depressed where just getting up in the morning is something that seems like an impossible task. I was depressed for a long time and then it started to get better, it was not a sudden event, I did not wake up one morning and feel all better, it was a very gradual thing. It took a years of Zoloft, hours of therapy and a great deal of hard work to move me through that dark, dark time. But I did get through it and I learned a great deal about myself and my world in the process.

One of the most important things that I learned in that process was self care. I learned what I needed to do to make sure that I was feeling good and regulated enough to tackle the day. I learned that no one else was going to take care of me and that it was up to me to make sure that it happened.

I still need to make sure that it happens because being a parent and especially parenting traumatized kids can be really hard and can wear you down and can make you depressed. I don’t want to be depressed again and so I try hard to make sure that taking care of myself does not get pushed to the bottom of the needs list. I know you know what I am talking about… it looks like this

- kids up, dressed, fed, lunches made and off to school.

- house tidied, dishes done, laundry, groceries, check email, and that is all before you go to work if you are not a stay at home Mom.

- errands to run, bills to pay, work to do, yard, pets, etc.

- kids home, dinner, dishes, homework, baths, stories, bed,

- find 5 minutes to talk to partner about tomorrow, or next week, or whatever

- fall into bed but don’t sleep well because there are 700 things going on in your head.

That is not how your list should look, but I know that some days mine looks like that. Where is there time in that list for me to take care of myself? I need time to talk about my day with other adults, I need time to enjoy a little quiet, or noise or whatever it is that recharges my batteries. I need time for a quiet cup of coffee with a friend or a lunch with one of my kids. I need a lot of things and if I do not carve the time out it will not happen. My children are not going to stop needing me, the meals are not going to prepare themselves, the laundry needs to be done but I need to be healthy and happy as well. So where do I find that time – I don’t find it because it will never there, I force myself to make it.

- I stop for a latte on the way to grocery store and sit down for 5 minutes, then I take my latte with me as I shop

- I put on music I like in the car, especially if the kids are being loud and I am feeling overwhelmed.

- I have a therapist and I make time to see her every 2 or 3 weeks, then I make sure that I do not have to rush off to something after and make plans to have lunch with a friend.

- I take a glass of wine and good book into the bathroom and have a bubble bath after the kids have gone to bed.

- I knit while I am watching TV, sitting in waiting rooms, etc. It calms me down, it keeps me grounded and I love to do it.

- I garden, it is a lot of work but it keeps me connected in so many ways.

- I take time after church to sit and visit with friends, the kids run around and I get to talk to other moms and recharge a bit.

- I blog, I used to journal a lot when I was depressed and now blogging has taking that place. It feels good to get my feelings out there and I have met so many great people.

- I pick my kids up from school at lunch and take them for a treat, it is unexpected and they enjoy it to no end. It also means that there will be at least one good interaction with them that day and I can feel good about making that time.

- I have lunch with P, sometimes it is just a salad in between his clients in his office on the coffee table and sometimes we go out.

My stairs are not swept, my laundry is not put away, my house is not tidy but I am happier, happier because I have made time to take care of myself in the midst of taking care of everyone else.

Taking care of me means that I can be a better parent, it means that I can help my kids to stay calm, regulated and happy. It means that when my child is dealing with issues I can be a calming force instead of adding fuel to the fire. I notice when I have not made time for me, I notice because I am grouchy and easily angered and P often tells me I need to take a break.

What do you do to take care of you? How do you make time?

For 10 weeks I will be writing an article once a week on the theories that you can find in Beyond Consequences Volumes 1 and 2. Heather is offering a online parenting course that elaborate on her book and I am lucky enough to be participating. If you are interested in participating you can find more information on her website.


Shauna said...

Time for me (as J already knows) is;
1. Keeping in shape, even when that means getting up before the sun.
2. Keeping my house in order including food, or everything else feels chaotic too.
3. Sneaking in outside time as much as possible. Dog walking, skiing, hiking, anyone?!

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Okay, I have a goofy one (maybe you suspected that could happen). I keep a handheld yatzee game in the bathroom and whenever I go in there to.... sit.... I play through one entire game and tune everything else out. 3 or so minutes of totally checking out really does help a bit.

J. said...

Essie, - that is brillant!
Shauna, - outside is always a good one but winter gets so cold...

marythemom said...

I'm addicted to blogs and list serves. I spend way too much time on my computer. Also, after the kids go to bed I take long hot baths with a good book that has nothing to do with RAD, mental illness, kids, or work.

I thought you needed some sunshine so I gave you an award. Stop by http://marythemom-mayhem.blogspot.com/2010/02/and-now-for-something-completely.html to pick it up.

Hugs and prayers,
Mary in TX

mcl said...

I go to imaginary meetings at work... Leave the building, turn off the phone and play hooky for 2 hrs plus travel! And if you tell Laurie or Jane you're toast. I also seem to enjoy the barefootbook gig too much http://celestebooks.barefootbooks.com. It raises lots of money for school, I love the
books, and won a new itouch?!

Mom 4 Kids said...

Come by and pick up your sunshine award! Hugs!

Chloes Mom Mary said...

I am so glad that you carve out time for yourself. I try to take time on a regular basis but it does not always work out. I try to pay attention to myself and when I find that I am getting stressed - more than usual, I try to book a day or two off work connected with a long weekend. I took yesterday and today off and Monday is Family Day for us folks in Alberta. Hence, a nice five day break from work. While I'm off I still take care of things but in a much more relaxed manner. I sleep as much as I need/can and I just make sure that I spend more time doing things I like than things that "need" to be done.

J, I think you are doing an awesome job! Keep on taking care of yourself so you can take care of those special young men.