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YOU CAN’T POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP

Wake up, tired from only five hours of sleep, to a parade of toddlers in your bedroom all wanting something different for breakfast.
Drink a half of a cup of cold coffee because you were getting breakfast, juice, the correct tutu, and finding lost books between pouring the coffee and drinking the coffee.
Sit down to a table full of kids that are expecting you to teach them something while lists and jobs to do whir through your mind. I’m sorry, what’s your name again, child?
 
Finally get dressed in what you wore yesterday because you only have three pair of pants and two are in the laundry. Brush teeth, messy bun. Again. Make up?? Hahaha…good one.
 
The day carries on like this–switching loads of laundry, driving to this practice or that rehearsal, thawing something out for dinner and collapsing into bed, too late because the house was finally quiet and we used the quiet hours to mindlessly peruse Pinterest because that’s all our brains could handle.
And it starts all over again.
While this might be a slight exaggeration to my normal days, there are definitely weeks where it’s pretty close to my truth.
Taking care of yourself can't stop when we become mothers. You can't pour into your family if you, yourself are empty.

Moms and their sacrifice of self-care

I finished The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner a couple weeks ago, a book about taking time for yourself and nourishing your interests and self care time in the midst of the daily busyness. While this book wasn’t my all-time fave, there were many great tips about making time for yourself. Reading this book really made me start thinking about what my interests are, taking time for necessary self-care, and basically what that all means for busy moms.
I think that sometimes, either consciously or subconsciously, we become mother martyrs. By completely throwing off our own time for hobbies, interests, self-care, friends, etc, we take on this mindset that if we take this time for ourselves we are taking less care of our family somehow. We can operate so much in an all or nothing mentality. As if by talking on the phone to your sister for an hour is making your kids’ life more difficult because you are ‘ignoring’ them. Therein lies the sacrifice…their needs over my own.
Of course I know there’s a certain amount of things we ‘give up’ when we become moms or homeschool moms. There’s just not as much time because it’s being occupied by many things; meals, diaper changes, baby feedings, naptime prep, bedtime prep, cleaning up spills. This stuff is all part of the deal and that should never cause us to resent the loss in personal time. But just because we sign our name to the contract of motherhood, doesn’t mean we’re signing our own death-to-personal-time warrant.

We still need that time, we just need to know it’s going to look different than it did before. And it’s going to go on looking different in every season of life we’re in from here on out. 

We need time for three things…body, mind, soul. These are the essentials. Every day, from sun-up to sun-down, we pour and pour out, loving, caring for, making comfortable, sustaining our little people. But what happens when we are pouring and pouring, but there’s not a lot there to give anymore. When our well is dry, it’s really difficult to keep giving. Taking time for our own body, mind, and soul are the ways we keep ourselves prepared to give more.
I know the filling-up part looks different for all of us. We all have different interests, tastes, and pleasures we enjoy. We’re all in different seasons in life, which plays a huge part in how much time we take on ourselves. Some of us have new babies and toddlers and getting some time alone sounds like a heaven that doesn’t exist to you right now. I get that. I’ve been there. Filling ourselves up doesn’t have to mean a week-long retreat in Bali or daily massage or anything even close to that–although that would be great. Just five minutes here and there can be enough sometimes.
Just for my own personal interest in this subject, I took a few minutes to jot down some ways I took time to fill my body, mind and soul in the last seven days. Here’s what it looked like:
  • morning coffee and daily reading either before the kids got up or while they got ready and I was alone in the kitchen (10 minutes per day)
  • reading time either for a few minutes in the morning or a few minutes at night before bed (20 minutes per day)
  • listening to podcasts that pique my interests while folding laundry (30 minutes/2 times this week)
  • painting my nails with my girls–I could have just done theirs, but decided I wanted some too (10 minutes)
  • chiropractor appointment–it’s really hard to get myself to go to stuff like this, but I’ve had back problems since Vera was born and I needed to…badly. It’s right by my grocery store, so I tacked my appointment onto grocery shopping. (20 minutes)
  • phone call to my sister while I made lunch one day (60 minutes)
  • taking time to get myself ready every day–hair and make-up–because it makes me feel like a human being (15 minutes per day)
  • an extra long shower before bed (20 minutes per day)
  • early bedtime so I get more time to read and I sleep better
  • haircut–first one since October! See? Martyrdom. But no one really cares and no one in my household is worse off because I took the time to go get a haircut. (60 minutes)
  • picked up a bouquet of flowers at Trader Joe’s while grocery shopping (30 seconds)
  • made candles one afternoon while my kids were occupied (90 minutes)
  • bought myself new jeans while we shopped for my son’s birthday (30 minutes)
  • writing/blogging/internet work…is it work if you love it? (3 hours added up here and there, either early morning or in the afternoons…usually about 30-45 minutes at a time) Sidenote: I normally go to a coffee shop to work one night a week for a few hours, but my husband was out of town for work, so I didn’t this week.
Despite this long list, I really didn’t notice any of it taking a whole lot of planning or orchestrating on my part. I simply found pockets of time here and there to take some time for myself–body (haircut, long showers), mind (reading, podcasts), and soul (convo with my sister, daily quiet mornings).

Plan to take care of yourself

Because I’m always about the practical application part, here’s some ways that you can really plan to take care of yourself…to fill your cup so you have more to pour out.
  • Get ready for success. Don’t plan on doing anything after the kids go to bed…no cleaning, no list-checking, no projects. What always happens to me is that I’ll say I’m going to do just “one little thing” and then it ends up taking me forever or I get sucked into the rabbit hole of the interwebs and I end up going to bed way too late. Instead of trying to get one more thing done, do a quick tidy of the kitchen, make your coffee for tomorrow, set your book or planner on the counter beside your coffee mug and get yourself ready for bed.
  • Teach your kids self-sufficiency. There’s nothing in the Motherhood Handbook that says you have to do every single little thing for your kids. (well, except for infants, they can’t do much) But things like getting just the right colored cup for snacktime or putting socks on our 8 year-old or putting toothpaste on toothbrushes are all things your kids can do for themselves and it allows you more time in your day to do things like put mascara on, drink hot coffee, or sneak a square of chocolate without being seen.
  • Use your Fringe Hours. Reading this book showed me that I have more time than I think I do. By doing things like grabbing flowers when I’m at the grocery store or tacking on a chiropractor appointment to my regular grocery run are great ways to make time without really taking too much time. Find your fringe!
  • Listen to your body. Since we are givers, sometimes we don’t realize how really sleep-deprived we are or how long our back has really been messed up until you’re quiet and listen to your body.
  • Ask for help. This is my least favorite ever, but asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve somehow failed, it means you’re understanding that there’s certain times you can’t juggle all the plates at once. You need a third hand and that’s ok. Asking for help might mean your husband picking up dinner on his way home from work. It might mean telling your mom your intention of taking better care of yourself and her giving you ideas. It might mean calling a cleaning service once a month…or dropping off your husband’s shirts at the launders.
We give a lot, you and me. Let’s not forget to save a little bit of that giving for ourselves.

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. I’ve heard of this book but haven’t read it yet. I think I do fairly well with using my Fringe Hours for the most part, except in areas like going to get a massage or haircut. I take lots of moments for me each day, though. My youngest is 6 years old so it’s getting easier.
    Here are some of the things I do:
    *Get up an hour and half earlier than my children (I accomplished this by training them to stay in bed until a certain time even if they are awake)
    *On school days, they take a 20 minute recess which gives me a chance to do something quick.
    *We have an hour and half of quiet time each afternoon, which we started after everyone finished napping.

    All that being said, I tend to work during most of these times and I think that maybe I could benefit from less work…

  2. Excellent idea! Use your fringe hours. I love this!!! This will be way more successful than trying to set aside a block of time for myself. Cause that AIN’T gonna happen. LOL

  3. Excellent post, Alicia! I am going to look for that book. It is the second time I have heard it mentioned recently! Ciao, Nicola

  4. I just started reading Fringe Hours last week and it's really opening up my eyes to see that I take no time for me. My three boys take up so much of my time and energy, and I feel like I never get anything done around the house, work on projects or get out and see a movie. So I asked my husband if he would take the boys to his parents house for the weekend, they live about three hours away from us. I Love my kiddos, but I need to fill my cup.

  5. What a great post! I have been wanting to read the fringe hours, and can completely relate to pushing myself, a little too hard sometimes. I did just get myself an awesome groupon for a pedicure so that is what I am currently looking forward to.

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