step 01 // narrow your playing field
step 02 // don’t victimize yourself
step o4 // get away
step 05 // put down your phone
step 06 // break routine
step 07 // go to church
step 08 // share the care
step 09 // wait
step 03 // make yourself a priority
Even if you don’t have a child, the monotony of things that need to get done in life never ends. When there are loads of tasks on your plate, maybe you make a to-do list to help you visualize everything that needs to be completed, feeling the relief of an ocean breeze every time you cross off a task. Maybe, you take it a step further and prioritize your list from “most urgent” to “needs to get done eventually”. When parenting enters your realm of ontological possibilities, and your time is swallowed up by the sea of endless giggles, hungry bellies, and dirty diapers, this step can and does so easily get thrown to the wayside. But everyday, the first thing on your list of to-do’s, before the laundry or walking the dog, needs to be YOU. When the baby goes down for their first nap or you have a lunch break, do the thing you need to do that makes you feel whole. That makes you feel human. I have two things. Working out and reading.
Working out and exercise makes me feel alive and invigorated, aligning my day like an astronomical chiropractor. On top of this I am usually much more productive after a good sweat. Workouts always happen during the first nap, hands down. When I wake up I put on my workout clothes, do what I can in the morning while Willow is awake to get the house in order, and as soon as she’s down I get to work. This usually leaves me time for a shower and the start of another task.
Reading always happens after Willow has gone down for bed. The reason I started a routine of reading at night is because it helps me fall asleep. I spent half of my life tossing and turning at night, trying to fall asleep, when I discovered that a night time routine that included reading helped me fall asleep almost instantly. It was shortly afterwards that this time of mental escape into someone else’s reverie [ I like fiction, ok] became a part of my being. The first month or two after Willow was born my exhaustion was so great, all I saw was blurred lines on an off-white page. It killed me that I couldn’t muster up the concentration to read more that two pages and escape into the mind of Jack Kerouac or Jonathan Saffran Foer. But as I’ve said before, the first few months are tough, so cut yourself some slack.
While it would be an understatement to say that this step is vastly important to living a full and happy life and should not be neglected, it is very much easier said than done. You may need to go out on a limb and ask someone you trust to help you if you just can’t find the time. Also, if you have a spouse/partner, give them permission to do the same. Even if that thing is something you don’t value, like video games or manicures or March Madness. Self care, whether you are a parent or not, is something that needs to be fought for with fierce vigor and held onto with white knuckles. So hold and tight and don’t make any exceptions.