Some days I find parenting more challenging than others. Okay – don’t most days have a challenge or 12 in them? Honestly – the baby years almost brought me to my knees more than once. I can’t tell you how many times I told Jason – “there is a reason babies are so stinking cute. Otherwise – we might try to give them back!”
I struggled with all of the sleep deprivation that came with loving and caring for McFarland babies. Seriously – McFarlands do not sleep like regular people! McFarland brains and bodies come wired needing less sleep than (normal) most other people do. BUT I simply do not function well (or at all) on less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night.
Now thankfully – most of the time – all of us are sleeping pretty well. Actually – these days I am the one who doesn’t sleep all that great. Who knew that being a bad sleeper was catching?
The other thing that I struggle with sometimes is the sheer intensity of being a parent. And by intensity I mean – how someone so often seems to need or at least want something from me. And it seems like everything is more intense these days doesn’t it? (COVID-19 has amplified so many things.)
The way that I have coped with the intensity of parenting – well actually – the way I have coped with life in general is by taking “alone time.” Time just for me. Time to clear my head. It helps me reset and recharge. I don’t necessarily need or want to be physically alone. I can take this time in a room full of people – but I have learned that I do need time just for me every single day in order to function. It really isn’t something I can skip. And unfortunately I am not talking about just 15 or 20 minutes.
This time to read and to knit is as important to my self-care routine as regular daily exercise and maintaining a healthy hippy dippy diet are. If I don’t take this time to care for myself – I quickly start to fray around the edges. And then I am miserable and everyone around me is (probably) miserable too.
Out of force of habit I exercise religiously. Jason and I “just do it.” It isn’t negotiable. 5:00 pm comes at our house, and we are out the door on our nightly walk. And now we have added a lunchtime walk to our routine whenever it is possible. It is what we do. (You have probably picked up on the whole hiking/walking theme in other blog posts.)
Our niece Isabella declared recently in exasperation that all our family ever does “is go for walks!” Well no – Bella – we do other things too. But there is a lot of walking . . . It seems walking is another family trait – but this one I do have.
Even in the midst of Staying Safe at Home – I have done pretty good with remembering to exercise – but I haven’t always remembered to take time to recharge my spirit. Being at home with my super – awesome family 24 hours a day 7 days a week is intense. Honestly – staying safe at home is INTENSE! I adore these people. But wow – we are spending A LOT of time together. And I am guessing some (most) of you are feeling the same way.
We are all getting A WHOLE LOT of togetherness with our nuclear families.
And I know that I tend to over-function. Just this morning over coffee my beloved husband looked at me with a sassy smile on his face and said to me – “Wow – Kerri – it must be so hard for you to be a single parent . . . “ I won’t share my response – and will reassure you that we are still happily married (for now)!
Anyway – my point is – these are incredibly intense times. We are all being asked to dig deep – very deep. Our lives have changed dramatically. And we cannot forget to take care of ourselves. It is not selfish to care for yourself. It is not wrong to tend to your own needs. You need to take good care of yourself.
You need to spend time every day tending to your own spiritual and physical health. No one can do this for you. You have to do this for yourself.
One of the ways that I have been trying to do this is to hold myself accountable to taking time to read every day. I am reading a really cool book of meditations. They are short. And give me something to think about during the day.
I am also trying to maintain a practice of gratitude. To remember and acknowledge God’s blessings to me. Sometimes I even write these blessings down. After all – giving our Lord thanks isn’t just for the 4th Thursday in November! Other times I share my blessings with my family.
And perhaps my favorite practice right now is to really – really notice the world and people around me. I try to spend at least 15 or 20 minutes every day sitting or walking quietly and listening and watching and taking in the world.
Self-care practices are going to be as individual as each and every one of us.
Jason and Brenda and Bobby all love music (I don’t have that same passion for music.)
I know that Marilyn is reading through the Bible right now. (She has been sticking with it for months now!)
Elaine and Marcia both seem to devour books!
Paul and Kaitlyn are runners, and Steve loves to ride his bike(s) (I don’t enjoy running – but Jack seems to enjoy it).
Jack and Will are loving time on our trampoline.
For my niece it seems to be chatting with her friends.
Bob creates beautiful jewelry, and Cheryl is making bead creations.
Deb and Cathy craft and sew dresses for FCHUM.
My mother-in-law loves to cook (and we love to devour her creations)!
Whatever it is that feeds your soul – you need to do it. You need to take time every single day to care for yourself.
We are all called to tend to our spirits as God’s people. And I think this is especially important during these truly stressful – anxious times.
You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –