By Abbie Cornett
I don't know about you, but I always feel guilty when I do something nice for myself. I feel like time and money would be better spent on my kids or family. That somehow taking care of me was selfish. And, this guilt frequently meant I didn't take time for myself. But, the challenges of the last year have taught me that if I am going to take care of my family, I need to take care of myself first.
While this seems like a simple idea, I hadn't realized I was running myself further and further into the ground while taking care of everyone around me. Thankfully, I have a blunt older female friend who saw how tired I was and asked, "When do you give yourself a break?" I started to tell her I didn't have time, but she stopped me and said that was just an excuse! She then explained taking care of myself first was like putting your oxygen mask on first. She pointed out that I couldn't help anyone if I was dead. Yes, I said she was blunt!
I was nowhere dead, but I was exhausted. I had been so worried about keeping my family going through the pandemic I had completely forgotten about myself. If I had been sick, I would have been resting, getting fluids and going to the doctor. Still, because I wasn't physically ill, I ignored the signs of exhaustion and anxiety. In the past, I thought when people used the term self-care, they meant to get their nails done or get a massage. It is essential to realize self-care is different for everyone. And for me, self-care meant revising my priorities and setting some boundaries for my kids.
While this sounds easy, it isn't. It has required a steep learning curve for everyone in my family. My kids have had to take on more responsibility such as learning to do their own laundry and helping more around the house. For my husband and I, it has meant revising our priorities about what needs to get done when. No, the world won't end if there are dishes in the sink, and it is OK for the yard not to be perfect. But, most importantly, it has been learning to take it easy on me.