12 Steps to Recovering Your Humanity When You’re a Wreck
This post applies to any woman out there who’s run down, rabid, raggedy, and feeling like a wreck. Many of those inhabitants of this subset are mothers. Some are workaholics. Some are naturally prone to being hygiene deficient. Others are simply too busy to feel human. Or particularly female. SweetPea is showing off a new dress in her stylish way here! She’s taking the steps. We need to too.
1) Prayer or meditation time.
Studies show again and again that taking time away from your busy day for mental prayer or meditation greatly improves your outlook and mental health. It’s a very necessary part of functioning fully as a human being. Connect with yourself; connect with your higher power.
For me, this means trying to pray a Rosary daily. In the least, I check in with God in the morning when I wake up, as I trot to SweetPea’s bedroom to do her 5am wake up nursing, and then again in the evening when AA and I pray together. Sometimes it’s just a simple set of prayers. Sometimes we pray something called the Liturgy of the Hours which is ancient and gorgeous. We pray with the kids often throughout the day, at mealtime, bedtime, and nap time. Nap time prayers are specifically for my brother who just deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry officer. SuperBoy loves his Godfather!
2) Take care of your face.
Okay. We’re not getting any younger. And if you’re up with kids half/all the night, your face is aging faster than you’d like. Don’t plaster crap on your face. Chemicals are not going to help. Keeping your skin balanced, healthy, and in happy shape is an investment. Yes, I’m talking about Brooklyn Herborium, my sister Molly’s product line. I’m testing & reviewing some as we speak. My skin is a lot healthier as a result.
3) Get a good tweezers and small scissors.
Take care of unwanted facial hairs. Pluck those bad boys. Trim your mustache. Rid yourself of the unibrow. Take the 15-20 minutes once or twice a month to pay attention to your facey-face. When I was young and carefree and paying just for me & my hobbies I’d get a lovely eyebrow wax every now and again. Now it’s me & the tweezers. Follow your brow bone. Get a trusted sister or girlfriend to help you if need be.
4) Exercise at least once in a blue moon.
Can’t join a gym? Scared of DVD workouts? Feel like you have absolutely no spare time to dedicated to anything other than laying down watching instant Netflix when your children are actually very truly really sleeping (this means after all the “I need lotion. I need to “go” potty. I need another song” numbers)?
Walk. Vigorously. Some studies show that you can sufficiently elevate your heart rate to burn calories by vigorous walking. My very dear friend and I are taking up walking with our strollers, vigorously. Many times a week. Starting now. Does it count if I bring over rhubarb blueberry shortbread beforehand?
Get free weights. Do basic big muscle groups & then small ones. In your bedroom. In the kitchen. Very knowledgeable and amazing family friend Siros Jabari runs a fitness center and is a guru. Check out his video series from Arete Healthfit that gives you a good baseline so you do it right in the privacy of your kitchen.
5) Do for others.
Nothing makes me feel better than doing for others when I’m feeling like crap. Guaranteed someone in your life had a baby, experienced a loss, is sick or has sick kids, is overwhelmed with work, or has something going on in their lives that makes life tough. Bring them dinner. Bring them dessert. Doesn’t have to be homemade. Just reach out. Send an email. Text them. Write a card saying you’re praying. Actually call them. Make this a life habit. It is the best antidote for your own disgruntlement. There’s always someone in greater need than you.
6) Buy yourself something that’s not chocolate periodically.
Okay, buy some dark chocolate too. But even if it’s just a pack of hair binders, buy yourself something that just pertains to you. It can be simple. Inexpensive. A basil plant. A pair of yoga pants on clearance ($15! Oh, yah!). A box of tissues for the car so you don’t have to use baby wipes anymore when you’re recovering from a cold. Just something for you.
The occasional purchase to brighten up your wardrobe can really elevate your spirits. And make you feel like you’re a woman of the times! Even if you’re not. A cute stretchy belt can help any outfit, right? I hope so.
7) Practice deep breathing.
In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Five deep belly breaths. Close your eyes. You’re in Antigua and someone is handing you a Rum Punch while the ocean waves lap the beach in the private cove where your villa is located. Open your eyes. The dishes are still dirty, the dog threw up, and you have no meat defrosted for dinner, and heyo–it’s 4pm!
Just breathe. Extra oxygen helps.
8) Call a girlfriend or family member who does not have children.
And don’t talk about your children. Mention them in passing. Make it a positive statement. Ask about their life. Talk about hair products, new movies that you’ve only caught a glimpse of because you’re surfing the web while nursing the baby down (don’t say that last part), their work, their boyfriend situation, how you want to try that new bread recipe they posted to Pinterest. Remember what it was like when you went out after bedtime?? Pretend if you don’t.
9) Turn off your phone and unplug from the internet–just for like an afternoon, okay?
This may motivate you to talk to real people in your life. Like your neighbors. Or the person at the store. Or your children. Be in the moment. Not in a sappy Hallmark annoying-self-righteous-mommy-blogger-way. But really. The internet makes me feel like I’ve met my quota of personal interaction (which is good, because it’s a wildly high quota) but also I feel full then, without feeling satisfied. When I’m scrolling everything when there’s down time at the house, my brain scrolls too. I’m trying to detox on the scrolled brain. Acupuncture with Michelle at Bellacu is helping! Just had round two of three today. Look for a review on that, too!
10) Look at old photos.
Not in a critical way–like ohmyga my pre-partum bod was so much better!–but in an appreciative way. There I was in high school not knowing what I’d study in college. There I was in college spending all my time with horses, not knowing who I’d fall in love with in law school. There I was in law school wearing some crazy outfit. Yes, I wore my rowel spurs and Kenneth Cole cowboy boots with a pencil skirt and blouse. Why? Because the quiet section of the law library was too quiet.
A reminder of pre-family life gives me appreciate for who I was then and how I got here. And that there’s more to me than glasses that are perpetually greasy and hair in a messy bun, practicing patience whilst both children protest nap. And that this part of me is great too. But life has many dimensions. Remember & appreciate all of them.
11) Start your day or end it with something that’s a treat for you.
Sometimes I do both. Hot cocoa in the morning and homemade ice cream at bedtime from the local shop: Grand Ole Creamery’s Mac Daddy. I just dropped a quart of this off at a friend’s house because I had to share the love. It’s my go-to pregnancy/lactating ice cream. I’m not the former, but am the latter. So yes, pamper yourself a little. Calories be damned. A little special daily treat (yes, it’s still special daily!!) is a great thing.
12) Read a book.
Fiction. Total brain candy. Or something educational about the pyramids! Outside the norm. Nothing to do with your field of work or vocation. All I read is about parenting, child development, gardening, or cooking. I really want to read something that is about nothing about me and mine. Open to suggestions!