I don't know about you but I have about zero time for myself, especially those first 6-9 months after our girls were placed with us. Yeah, sure, the husband could watch them. But often I was called back en route because of major meltdowns that we needed to tag team. You can forget about dates: not only did our babysitters need to be background checked and fingerprinted, leaving our kids with strangers was more of a punishment for all four of us than was worth it.
I would read these mom blogs or see these instagram posts about women who would promote this things called "self-care." They'd post pics of their lone trips to Target or sitting in a bookstore with a book, or going to the movies alone, or getting a massage. The captions would read something like, "My life is so hard with my 2.5 children and husband that I've dropped the kids off at a babysitter and eat dinner out with a friend before I catch a movie alone. All you moms out there should do the same. It's called self-care. You should take care of yourself before you take care of everybody else."
Most of the time these posts made me laugh out loud. I howled, I laughed until I cried. Because girl, please. You don't know me. There is absolutely no way I'm able to get out of this house. If I leave, my kids think I'm never coming back.
As time went on, though, I realized there was truth to these statements. If I want to be a good mom, I have to be good to myself. If I want to meet the needs of my kids, I have to meet my needs, too. It's like, I spend my day filling their love buckets but I need to fill my own bucket, too. But let's be honest. A spa day or a movie alone was never going to happen.
Here's where the definition of self-care took a turn for me. I may not be able to flush the toilet or take a shower in the morning (old plumbing means it woke up my kids who were already terrible sleepers) but I could wake up a few minutes early to finish a chapter of my book. I might have to be quieter than a mouse at nap time, but painting my nails isn't a loud activity and I could do that sitting at my coffee table. I started wearing headphones and listening to music during a bubble bath after the husband came home. Then I was there at the house, I was there if anyone needed me, but I had an hour to myself. I could walk around our condo complex by myself and still be nearby. If I thought creatively, there were so many things I could do to get some "me" time--to refresh myself, to take care of myself, to shake off the "Mommy" and put on the "Caitlin" for a while--to remind me that I was a real person before two tiny humans drained the life out of me.
You should do the same. I don't care if it's the first month of a hard placement or 5 years post adoption. Do a little self care. Here are some of my favorite things.
Paint your nails.
Take a bubble bath.
Make a smoothie and don't share it.
Take a shower with eucalyptus leaves.
Braid your hair.
Buy super soft sheets for your bed.
DIY a face mask.
Paint with watercolors with your kids.
Order some comfy tees and good fitting jeans.
Bake a cake.
Buy some flowers on your grocery trip and put them in a pretty pot.
Skip the chicken nuggets and eat healthy. (Might I suggest this recipe?)
Take the dog for a walk.
Jump on your kids' trampoline when they're not watching. Or maybe when they are.
Take some iPhone pictures of something besides your kids.
Eat more cake.
And can I give you some words of encouragement? 20 months in we still have a whole lot of #adoptionproblems. But there's a whole lot I can do on my own now. Like flush the toilet at night. And get up early to go to the gym. Or leave the house on to walk Target alone. Or go to the movies with a friend. I wouldn't say that adoption or parenting gets easier, but I will say that your kid will eventually stop panicking when you leave the house and your husband will be able to handle meltdowns without you.
What are some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself???
Caitlin is the founder and creator of Respite Redefined. She is a wife and mother of two daughters through adoption from foster care. Caitlin loves to read, to write, and to dream of the places she'll go and the sights she'll see and the new kids she'll one day meet.