I was recently reading this article from Beth Bridges, entitled, “https://bethbridges.com.au/17-reasons-why-modern-women-are-struggling-so-much/ ” from July. I agree so much that women do way too much, are way too busy, give away from themselves when they don’t have it to give, try too hard to please everyone and do for everyone. I would add to this list that many women, especially homeschoolers mothers, don’t do a great job taking care of themselves. Yes, many do small things like take a multivitamin or taking a relaxing bath, but many do not do even the bare minimum of things they probably need to function.
As many of you know, last year was really stressful for our family. We came through it, but about May, my asthma. allergy, and infection levels were not so great. It was kind of like being a student at university, and you get through all the final exams, but by the time you get home for Winter Break, you have bronchitis for the first week of break. Did that ever happen to you? That’s what this summer and into fall has been like for me. I had to jump in and deal with it in BIGGER ways than I had been. Taking a bath wasn’t going to cut that level of depletion!
So these ideas about self-care is really about dealing with complete and utter depletion. Homeschooling mothers push themselves harder than most people I know. I think you can push like that for awhile, but again, years of pushing and years of homeschooling without break…well, I think then somewhere between your tenth year upwards of homeschooling, you may crash, unless you have a health crisis before that.
My idea is that self-care can be like a pyramid. It is individualized, because different people are doing to consider different things little, medium, or big, depending upon time, money, resources like who can watch your children if you need to go to the doctor alone… But here are my ideas, and my pyramid. Take what works for you and make your own pyramid of self-care! But, much like the slogan, I think we have to decide to “just do it.” There will never be enough time, money, etc. You have to decide you want your levels of self-care to change, that they can change, and that you are willing to make your self-care a priority.
LITTLE. It is hard to think about doing BIG things if you can’t do LITTLE things. Here is my list of some of the little things: finding time each day to read, finding time each day to be outside, making whole foods for meals, taking a relaxing bath, listening to a podcast or inspirational app that nourishes you, sleeping 8-9 hours a night, walking at a brisk pace (not a toddler’s pace) several times a week, let go of something, hydrate with enough water, sitting in silence each day.
MEDIUM. Then, are you ready for the MEDIUM things? Maybe that is a morning or evening routine that focuses on YOU , not the children. Maybe medium things are like making daily healing herbal infusions, making the time to exercise most days of the week, finding inspiration in daily offices of prayer or daily meditation and weekly spiritual community outside the home. Those things take overall incorporation into your rhythm outside of your family rhythm, and it takes weeks to build them as habit, so I count them as medium things.
Maybe some medium things aren’t daily, but are those yearly things you try to do – your yearly eye doctor exam, OB-GYN appointment or physical exam with blood work by a physician.
BIG. Then, finally, the BIG and sometimes scary. Getting those doctors’ appointments done. Getting the follow-up appointments for said doctors’ appointments. Making those appointments for therapy and following through in order to heal the woundedness that is plaguing you and all those self-help books aren’t helping.
I find therapy is the one no one really seems to want to do, yet can often have such a large impact on physical health and the vitality of your life if you can find the right therapist or counselor. For lower cost options, try places of worship that have counseling centers, or therapist who offer sliding scales of payment.
These are BIG things because of the extended time commitment and need to change thought patterns, ways of prioritizing time and money. Many don’t do it due to time, but also due to money. If you are in the United States, and lack good health care insurance, I urge you to look at health cost sharing programs. This began with Christian programs as outlined in this blog post, but there is now a secular version of this starting called Knew Health.
Maybe you don’t think you need these sorts of things, but I find many mothers who are in their upper to late 40s and early 50s do, particularly if we want to not have health problems in our 60s. So if you are younger and not needing any of this, maybe you can plan ahead. Or maybe your BIG self-care would look like something else…
Maybe BIG self-care would be leaving your children in another homeschool mother’s care so you can have an afternoon to yourself. Maybe it would be leaving your precious children for a weekend along with your husband or a girls weekend or even a weekend alone. Maybe it would be, gasp, a change in lifestyle, and putting your children in school instead of homeschooling. This happens more than you might think for homeschoolers with high schoolers, who have homeschooled for many years, and their health is just burned right out. For those of you with older elementary-aged children, and middle school aged children, please please consider carefully your health and long-term homeschooling plans. You cannot bloom all year round, every year – no flower, no creature on earth does that. Where and when are your fallow periods? Do your older children, again, older elementary and middle school, really need YOU every minute? What other trustworthy and wonderful adults can speak into their lives?
The ending of my story (or the beginning)…..After not being able to breathe for months and enduring repeated problems, this month I needed to pull out bigger guns than the little self-care steps I was already doing,( or even go beyond the medium steps). First I had to deal with the immediate crisis at hand, since I was headed towards hospitalization since I was getting so many infections on top of the asthma (despite doing all the usual healthy things and chiropractic). For me, this involved working with a the chiropractor I was seeing, a Western (regular) MD, a Western allergist/asthma specialist, a functional medicine specialist to clear allergies, and a holistic dentist who had a speciality area of asthma and airways. These were and are hard steps, because they are weekly appointments on top of an already busy schedule, they cost money (see above for options beyond health care insurance), my husband travels weekly and is rarely home, and so doing this also is just one more place to go and to coordinate where my children will be at that time. But these are important places, and I want to encourage you to go to your important places too – whether that includes medical appointments, therapy or counseling, or whatever the BIG thing is you have been putting off for your health.
I would love to hear your journey of self-care and health.