You Can Go & Love Your Self: finding time for self-care

Okay that reference in the title to a Justin Bieber song may be really inappropriate-- but to be honest I don't know what that song is really about or means so I am just going with it and playing the innocent/naive card.

I started writing a blog post about all my election feels, but I really don't know how to process through it without offending EVERYONE.

For me the hardest part about yesterday was not being able to hear what other people were thinking and going through themselves-- in their joy or despair. That can sound super dramatic but I truly think this is one of the biggest, most dramatic bachelor finales elections in our lifetime (I hope) and I hurt for my friends and family who are beyond disappointed and now feel fearful of the future because of the promises made during the campaign by the president elect-- and on the other side, I hurt for those who are called names for exercising their right to vote and choosing the candidate they felt aligned best with their beliefs, policies, and values.

I felt myself longing to work in an office and be able to chat with my coworkers as I take a coffee break and head back to my desk. I wanted to sit over a long lunch and hear what a girlfriend thought.

Instead I checked social media 1,000 times and chatted my husband's ear off when he got home at 8pm until the conversation ended with me crying and heading to bed early-- not because he said anything wrong or hurtful but because I felt fragile and the whole day reminded me of one of my the hardest parts of being a stay-at-home mom-- loneliness and isolation.

These are a few of the things I love to do throughout the day to help me get through hard times. This week that looks like getting less sleep, (because with Daylight Savings I still stay up late but my littles get up earlier!) having three sick kiddos-- two of whom I had to collect STOOL SAMPLES from for the doctor, awesome, and also I have struggled through this pregnancy with a little postpartum depression (love you, Archie) as well as pregnancy depression (love you too, mystery boy babe that will probably be named after some famous hockey player).

Anyways, I think sometimes people think when you have little kids and stay-at-home you are automatically struggling, overwhelmed, and miserable.

That is totally true.

No I am just kidding! I really hope that in my blog it is evident I love my kids and am SUPER grateful to be a mom. Sometimes when I look at our current "mommy culture" it makes me sad when the venting and blogged frustrations make kids seem like an inconvenience. Mine drive me b-a-n-a-n-a-s every other minute and then on the flip side, I spend the other half of the day oogling over them, kissing their necks, worrying about them, and thanking God for every moment we spend together.

I really do love to find solidarity with other women and have always found the best friendships and connections form when we're vulnerable with one other. And when your life is no longer your own, and instead your time, thoughts, money, conversation, etc, etc, etc, belongs to the tiny dictators in your home, you need to find some ways to take care of yourself, because unless you have figured out something that I haven't, ain't nobody gonna do that for you.

I don't have pictures to accompany this post but know you love them so I'm scattering some of our family photos from this fall throughout the post to break up the word-vomit!

1. Send your kids to clean up, set a timer and rest

My kids are not great at cleaning up their stuff, my mom who was a preschool teacher for many years, tells me that I need to sit beside them, model it before them, and then encourage them as they put things away. Because this sounds time consuming and awful, I mostly just yell, tell them what to do, then leave the room and yell again when I return 15 minutes later to an even bigger mess. But, those 15 minutes! They are so quiet! So honestly I don't really care. Once a week I sit with them in their rooms and playroom and do what mama suggested but mostly, I send them on "fake clean-ups" where they and I both know nothing is getting done but they are too afraid of me holding them accountable to bother me for a snack/butt wipe/sibling scuffle so I get a little piece and quiet.

This is when I take a shower or bath (when I'm pregnant scented epson salts are my BFF), sit and do my quiet time or Bible Study, stare off into space, watch the opening monologue of the Tonight Show on the DVR, or scroll through FB-- only to kick myself when I'm done for wasting precious alone time!

2. Get outside

We are ALL so much happier when we get out into sunshine and this is why I so openly hate Winter. I feel so loved by God to have this long, warm, beautiful fall. We get outside every day just to wander around and get fresh air.

3. Listen to music

Sometimes I go for days forgetting this, I'll be cooking and feeling so edgy and overwhelmed by the mess that's in the kitchen and the little ones pulling on my legs until I suddenly remember Pandora.

Lately I've been loving The Wailing Jenny's station, they are bluegrass/folksy and sound a lot like Alison Krause. I am a sucker for depressing music for some weird reason-- but as soon as I turn it on I soften, and feel more like myself again. My besties and I saw Parachute, Mat Kearney, and NeedtoBreathe when I was in Dallas a few weeks ago and I picked up some new fav songs from that and burned myself a good old-fashioned cd to jam out to in the car! (2 favorites if you were wondering are "Runaway" by Mat Kearney and "Lonely with You" by Parachute, even my kids love 'em!)

Another way to sneak in music or a podcast is by brewing a fresh pot of coffee, filling my to-go mug, and driving around with my kids to look at fall decorations in town. They love seeing all the pumpkins and the changing leaves-- it gives us a chance to get out of the house without spending money.

4. Cook or get carry-out

Some nights it seems like it would be relaxing to stand at the stove-top, cook a healthy meal, drink a glass of wine, and listen to music. Then I start and a few minutes in I want to throw it all out and microwave some nuggets -- as a one-year-old pulls on my pant leg, kombucha tastes like a sorry substitute for wine, I can't hear my music over the kids' whining, and the meal that I started out picturing my husband declare as "amazing" turns into "well, it's edible." A few nights ago I made my favorite baked salmon, risotto from scratch-- keep stirring, never stop stirring!--, and roasted broccoli-- afterwards I was so tired I left the kitchen a disaster and fell asleep on the couch!

But some nights the stars really do align and you can enjoy cooking if that's your thing, other nights give yourself a break and order in pizza-- which is our family tradition every Friday night!

5. Hire a babysitter

There is a chicka in our neighborhood who is a little young to wrangle all three kiddo's but is a lifesaver if I set out a project or send her outside with the big kids so I can run to the store with Archie or get some work done sequestered in my room. It can be refreshing for EVERYONE to have a boss around aside from Big Mama (as my husband affectionately taught Emmy and Mack to call me) and I love having someone else handle the creative experiments like finger-painting and play-dough.

6. Do a kid-swap

This was the best thing I ever did when I was pregnant with Archie and we lived in Des Moines. My friend Sarah and I scheduled two times a week where we would swap kids. She had four and I had two at the time and it was a life-saver for both of us. Since the days were consistent, I used that time-frame to schedule all my ob appointments and with the kids being at her house, I could clean, run errands, whatever! Then she dropped her brood off at my house for 4-5 hours and I loved it because it kept my kids entertained, and I used those afternoons to get my laundry folded and move around the house organizing things as it is hard to sit down with 6 kids running amuck!

We weren't super close friends when we started the swap (we decided to do it because we lived near each other) and I didn't know her kids very well, but I grew to love her and them and their family's friendship is one of the things we miss most about living in that area.

7. Squeeze in time for hobbies

I love to read and read a lot during different seasons of the year-- it mostly depends on whether or not I'm on a streak and have good suggestions (I am "off" right now so if you have any suggestions please share!) I get a lot of "how do you have time to read when your kids are little?" But we can all attest that we make time for things that are important to us. Cleaning and keeping up with laundry are low on my list! I don't watch any tv during the day I would rather read and I will sit in the corner with a book while the kids do lego's or send them off to a 45 minute shower while I squeeze in a few chapters.

Maybe you love to exercise or paint, you really can do these things but just be prepared to share in them with little ones pulling at your feet. Lots of time it's still worth it! As I write this post Archie keeps banging on the computer keys and screaming but I know finding time to write brings me happiness so even if it takes twice as long, whatever!

I wish I had other hobbies but I just don't. I exercised for one month and can honestly say I had so much more energy and it was awesome but I forget why I stopped going to the gym. Once a month we do yoga thanks to You-Tube and Archie has a killer downward dog.

I do love decorating so every now and then I'll pick an area of the house and re-do it or spruce it up a bit but all the errands that go with that, not to mention the $, get annoying so I spread those out every few months!


Okay nothing in life is fun if it is fit between a dozen different commitments. Even dinner with girlfriends can turn into a "task" if you are running around like crazy all week and longing instead for a night at home. I spent years doing ministry and literally NEVER had alone time or a day without meetings or intentional coffee dates. Even after Mike and I got married, I said "yes" to every thing that came my way and knew something was off when I repeatedly got asked to be apart of our church's "drama team" acting in plays-- it was not my strength at all! This season is a breath of fresh air in that I'm home every night, blissfully on the couch drinking tea wearing my comfies. It helps to live in a small town and have no friends so if you are super busy and don't know how to get out of it, go ahead and move!

If you are overcommitted, for real, QUIT SOMETHING, and read this great book! It is so not worth your joy or your family's peace of mind to spend your time doing things you don't love. I know the reality of having older kids is that you are MUCH busier running to sports and activities and know those days are in my future but for now, I am enjoying our 6:30 pm bed times!

9. Plan date nights

I waited for years for my husband to become the leading role in a romantic comedy and start whisking me off for surprise candle light dinners before I woke up and realized this is not the man I ACTUALLY married! If we are going to go on a date, I am going to set up a baby-sitter, make a restaurant reservation, and let him know our plans. At least this way we are getting some alone time together out of the house and maybe some day when he's working less I'll start to ask more of him in this department but right now he has a lot on his plate. We both come home connected and refreshed after date nights or date afternoons-- for instance this weekend our sitter is only free at 1 pm on Sunday so we're going shopping and out to an early dinner! We also don't mind being bold and asking our family to baby-sit when they come in town to visit us, we are just rude and assuming like that but it is a nice way to get some free childcare!

10. Find ways to "be you" 

Gosh what makes you feel like you? It's not a luxury! For me several of the things listed above help, as well as going on a little getaway out of the house for a few days (another post on this to come!)

It takes time to find yourself again in the midst of the piles of laundry and our identities can get lost in the needs of our families. Every once and a while I'll realize how disconnected I am from living a life I love and reevaluate. Um surprise I don't love being a domestic goddess and changing diapers but these years are legit flying by and some day I'll make more space to find my calling or whatever.

I know that these years require a lot of sacrifice and I am thankful for the ways in which laying down my life and desires for my family has shaped my character. This article/blog post is my favorite OF ALL TIME and helps me a lot when I struggle because it reminds me of my "why" and all the ways God is seriously bringing all my crap to the surface as I learn to parent!

Yesterday was super hard. I woke up and had a chocolate muffin for breakfast and curled my hair. I put on a big comfy sweater that I was saving for the holidays and sat at my computer going through some old music while my kids watched a movie. Then I decluttered a few areas to make room for the Christmas decorations I am forcing Mike to get out this weekend. For dinner we had major comfort food-- chicken alfredo-- and I let myself eat as much Halloween candy as I felt like I needed to. I put lots of my favorite essential oils on my feet and wore the softest socks I could find. My kids and I read all our favorite books and snuggled. I called my best friend and didn't make myself do any chores. These are some practical examples of what self-care looks like in my privileged life but don't go and being jealous of my easy life-- remember, I did have to collect two poop samples yesterday. This afternoon while prepping dinner I spilled half a jar of ground pepper on a hot burning, it started smoking, and we have spent the last hour sneezing non-stop-- I think it's in my lungs! #notsupermom #reallife

I hope you are getting lots of love this week and giving out even more!

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