I only made one New Year’s resolution this year: Self-care. I know, I know, “self-care” is a term that gets bandied about a lot, and one that seems to conjure up images of blissed-out mums relaxing in bubble baths without a child in sight. Or mums at the spa getting a massage or pedicure. Or mums dressed to the nines, out to a fancy ladies-who-lunch afternoon tea with friends. But to me, self-care is not so much about pampering. It’s more about getting to do the things that nurture my soul and make me feel good about myself. Things that help me express the non-mother aspects of my identity.
Work is a form of self-care for me. I love what I do, and I particularly love to write and work with words. Reading is my favourite hobby, so I’m planning to go to the library and read more books than last year. I really like to bake, so my colleagues had better wear their elastic-waist pants to work from now on. Those are things that feel good to me, and things that take time and make me slow down. And time and slowing down are essential for self-care.
I also love to sew, which is something I haven’t done a lot of in recent years. So this year I joined a 52-week sewing challenge on Facebook. There’s a theme for each week, and you can either accept the theme or “go rogue” and do your own thing. So I’ve set up my sewing machine on the kitchen table and warned my kids to look out for stray pins on the floor. So far I’ve made Miss One a pair of pyjamas and a dress. I love how productive sewing is – there’s always something tangible to show for my efforts – and how I can get completely immersed in what I’m working on, to the point where I can’t think of anything else other than what’s under my needle. There’s no room for stressing about everything that needs done around the house, or wondering how I’m ever going to get through my endless to-do list, or panicking over the what-ifs that constantly run through my mind.
Self-care isn’t about being selfish. It’s about taking the time to look after yourself. The inside you, not the external one who has to be there for everyone else. Self-care gives you the opportunity to nurture your identity and show your family, particularly your children, that you have unique interests and desires, and that you need to care for yourself so that you are in the right frame of mind to care for others. Yes, it’s that old “put your own oxygen mask on first” saying.
Let’s make 2018 the year of self-care. I think we deserve it.