See Mommy Work

Archive for the ‘Self-Care’ Category

After last week’s rant, you may have an image of me walking around angry all the time.  It turns out that it doesn’t take much to make me happy, either.  Here is a list of some simple, everyday occurrences that make me smile:

  1. Eating out or ordering in
  2. Hearing my favorite song on the radio on the way to work
  3. Four small words: “I love you, Mom!”
  4. Spring Sunshine
  5. Mom’s Night Out
  6. Unexpected down-time of 1 minute or more
  7. Beating a deadline
  8. Listening to live music
  9. Helping a friend
  10. Receiving a compliment
  11. Receiving a compliment about my children
  12. A fresh, hot pot of coffee in the morning
  13. Baking cookies
  14. Travel to a new place
  15. Using up leftovers before they go bad

Think back on your day.  What made you feel happy today?  Please share your moment in the comments section.  I’m warning you, happiness is contagious!

~Michelle

Advertisements

Some years ago I came across this book edited by Cathi Hanauer, comprised of a series of essays written by 26 different women.  I was intrigued by the title, partly because I felt (and still feel at times) that I have to constantly struggle to keep my own Inner B*tch in check.  Some days I do a much better job than others.

The best thing about reading the book was the honesty of the women writers.  They said things I had been feeling inside (and fighting to keep in) for years.  It made me feel instantly validated.  Women in my mom’s generation rarely talked about their frustrations, anger, and stress out loud, they mostly silently suffered their place in life.  This book changed all that for me.  I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t the only one walking around like a ticking time bomb, waiting for some small thing to tick me off and send me to the point of no return.   

As I’ve grown into motherhood I have realized how important it is to air my stress and frustration out in the open, which is one of the reasons why I love writing this blog.  I have come to terms with the fact that the stresses of working and parenting often leave me teetering on the edge of irritability.  I have always known and admitted I am not perfect; the difference is that I no longer make apologies for my shortcomings.  Instead, I strive to be proactive, nourishing myself and becoming my own best friend and staunchest advocate.

When I realize I have brought the dark cloud of irritability over my house I treat it like the “check engine” light on my dashboard.  It is a sign that something isn’t quite right, and that I am headed for much bigger issues if I don’t stop and take a good look at what is going wrong.

Read the book review, then do yourself a favor and get the book.  If nothing else, prominent display of that book on your shelf will let other people in your house know exactly where you stand.  If you’ve ever felt like the B*tch in your own house, I invite you to join me in taking ownership of how you feel and let some of it out in the comments below. 

~Michelle

Of all stress-relieving, feel-good things I can do for myself, a great workout is at the top of my list.  For one, the pricetag appeals to my economic sensibilities.  Professional spa and hair services are great, but they are just too expensive a fuel for everyday use.  For me, working out is a daily dose of feel-good that is almost free and equally effective. 

Running or hiking outside is not only free, but brings the added benefit of breathing fresh air and hopefully getting some Vitamin D and sunlight exposure.  For winter and bad weather workouts, an affordable gym membership is as close as your nearest YMCA.  Add a friend to your workout and you’ve also got the potential for some great venting while you sweat it out.

My personal favorite right now is spinning class.  I have started to look forward to jumping on that bike and pushing my less-than-long  legs to their limit.  I love feeling the beads of sweat race down my left and right temples at the same time, in my head placing a bet on which side will win. I love it when I feel my muscles warm, then burn, and I swear sometimes I can actually feel the fibers tearing and getting stronger.   I love how satisfying it is to measure my efforts by how soaked my shirt is when I am finished, knowing I left every ounce of effort I had in the gym.

Beyond the obvious physical benefits, working out clears my head. As a working mom, this is no easy task.  When I am running or biking or trying to master the steps of a new Zumba routine, I am not:  A) planning what to do with the kids over summer vacation;  B) figuring out what the heck to make for dinner tonight; or C) trying to solve the latest crisis at work. What I am is fully present, fully focused, and fully enjoying pushing the limits of what my body can do for no one else’s benefit but mine.

Damn, is it time for the cool down already?

This year I took to heart a concept I read about concerning New Years resolutions.  Traditional resolutions take the form of specific promises to yourself that are easy to break, and when you do you immediately turn to beating yourself up about it.  Rather than do this again and again, the advice I took this year was to choose one simple word that captures the essence of the change I wanted to make.  Once I got that in focus,  I would try to align all of my thoughts, actions, and decisions toward that end.

I spent a good amount of time coming up with enriching words, thinking about what I wanted the coming year to be about.  I decided I wanted to take better care of myself – body, mind, and spirit.  After careful consideration I chose my focus word of the year:  NOURISH.

For me this means being intentional about the care I show myself.  As a woman and a mother I take care of so many other people.  I owe it to myself and to those who count on me to make sure I’m taken care of, too.  So, every day since the calendar turned I wake up and identify one aspect of my day that will nourish me in some way.  Aside from the day I redeemed a massage gift certificate I got for Christmas, usually there is nothing earth-shattering planned.  In that case I pick something routine (like working out, or eating mindfully for example) and try to work with it in my mind until I can see it as something I intentionally do to both honor and nourish myself in some small way.

Looking back at the past seven weeks, I can say it has been a great success.  I’ve used Twitter to make a public daily proclamation of my intent.  This has really helped keep me accountable to my goal.  I hope that others reading will be inspired to show themselves some grace as well.

Through it all I have learned that it is not what you do for yourself that matters.  The purposeful attention I’ve shown to this commitment in and of itself is empowering.  It is me, every day, repeating to myself, my family, and to the whole world: “I am worth this effort.”

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.  You can follow my progress and keep me on track by checking out the hashtag #nourish to see what I’ve been up to.

~Michelle

Listen up, all you Mommies. I know you. You take care of everybody but yourself because you know from experience that they need your attention more than you do, right? Wrong. If you don’t take care of yourself, your well-thought out system will eventually fail. If you’re lucky your fail will be stress taking you out with an illness for a week. If you’re not lucky…well, let’s not go there.

As a friend reminded me recently, classic airline safety schpiels advise people travelling with children to put a deployed oxygen mask on themselves first. Think about that for a minute. Now go make yourself happy. Do one small thing solely for the purpose of pleasing you. If it makes you feel better, think of it as taking one more thing off their list.

~Michelle


Follow @michellestonge on Twitter

Michelle St. Onge

%d bloggers like this: