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.
Sending you so much love from afar! You have given so much to me and to so many mothers, from the depths of your soul. You’ve been blooming and blooming, even with your depleted soil, and I hope you can now rest and rest and rest. I hope your children and husband and everyone around you can come together to care for you. I hope that they can truly understand what is happening and the depth of your needs. Sometimes our dear families depend on us so much that they (without realizing it) just expect us to sally forth…not realizing that we can’t.
Hi Chris! Thank you so much for your kind words…It is an interesting season with older teens…there really isn’t a rest, but I think we get better at going along and learning how to fill our cups despite this, if that makes sense. Whereas sometimes when I had younger children, I was waiting for things to change or be different or not as intense…older children are just a different kind of intensity and I think we get better at taking the time out. Last night I went to the movies by myself just to fill my own cup after a weekend of taking care of horses and being at the horse show. We get better at making the time, even if some of the things around us don’t change too much…Maybe it is that WE change… Lots of love to you, thinking of you and appreciate you being here! Blessings, Carrie
(((you))) Thank you for your wisdom, I hope your healing is swift and complete.
Thank you Penny! I think it will be, and hope to really be feeling much better by the holidays! Blessings, Carrie
First, I wish you peace and continued healing! I hope that you will have a joyous, healthy and calm autumn and holiday season ahead and that the coming year will be much less stressful and much healthier!
Second, thank you so much for this post! It was a perfect reminder for me as I am here in the depletion-mode that has followed our second move in 16 months (this time to another state), family health issues, and just the daily fatigue of life with two wee ones.
I wanted to mention a book that may resonate with readers of this post: “Mother Nurture: A Mother’s Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships” by Rick Hanson, Jan Hanson and Ricki Pollycove. (I don’t think the paperback is available except used, but it’s also on Kindle now and fairly inexpensive.) This book was SO helpful and, yes, nurturing to me when I was feeling utterly depleted about a year after my second was born. We lacked the funds for naturopaths and extensive lab work (which, as you say, can be so very worth it if possible to do!) but this book at least helped steer me in the right direction until I was able to start looking into more health care. It’s a very gentle and encouraging book, while also a firm reminder that a mother needs to make her self-care a Priority!
Finally, one of the things I struggle with most is Time Management — it’s like a baffling art form, to me, LOL. I feel like perhaps I could carve out time for that epsom salt bath or some quiet spiritual reflection if only I were a little craftier with my time. I’m not sure if this is a skill I need to cultivate further or whether it is just very hard to do with a toddler nursling who still wants so much attention (especially after our move!) Probably a bit of both.
Thank you again for sharing your journey, wisdom and inspiration with us and for welcoming us to share a bit of our experiences, too.
Kate! I LOVE that book! I read it when my children were much younger, and thank you for bringing it to my attention again. ❤ I wish you love with your moving, and yes, the season of mothering littles is so physically demanding! I hope you can start setting aside a half hour for yourself a day. I will be thinking of you. Blessings, Carrie
Carrie, I am sorry to hear you have not been feeling so well. I certainly can relate to what you have written and agree that self-care is so very important and can be so hard to follow through when we have so much on our plates. Then we beat ourselves up about not looking after ourselves!
I have found Quercetin Complex to really help with asthma/allergies. I use the Solgar brand taking 2 per day. It takes about 4-6 weeks to take effect. A naturopath recommended it to me.
Sending you a hug. xo
Thank you! Blessings, Carrie
Self-care is really important to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with yourself as it produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem. It reminds yourself and others that you and your needs are really important.