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When (It Feels Like) Care Conflicts

Let’s see a show of hands from those of you who can remember me talking about self-care on this blog. If you aren’t raising your hand, then you probably have some reading to do. :-) I am all about self-care. The field that my bachelor’s degree is in (social work) has an extremely high turnover rate and because of this turnover rate, my professors were constantly talking about the importance of self-care and challenging us to find ways to care for ourselves. At the time, my husband and I owned a hot tub and my answer for self-care was ALWAYS, “I’m going to go home and sit in my hot tub.” Well, after I became a mom, the hot tub was still an important part of my self-care but Stroller Strides quickly became an even more important part. And I make a point to say “Stroller Strides” and not “working out” because FIT4MOM programs are about so much more than working out. I can work out by myself at home and while I’m thankful that I did something good for my body, it’s still not the same invigorating fulfillment that I feel after a FIT4MOM class.

I'm currently in the midst of a dilemma--a conflict (or at least what is feeling like a conflict...) between what have become two of my most favorite ways to care for myself: FIT4MOM classes & a flexible schedule. You know how some people thrive on keeping busy? I’m not one of those people. I love getting out of the house and doing exciting things with my children but I have found that too much of that makes me stressed and exhausted, even if it’s a day full of good things. So I’ve tried really hard to be careful about my schedule. I have loved the flexibility (other than naptimes, of course… :-) ) that being a full time stay at home mom provides. Now that my oldest son is in preschool three mornings each week, having the flexibility that I’ve grown accustomed to has become a bit trickier. and this new schedule is effecting how often I am able to attend Stroller Strides classes.

Ever since I started coming to Stroller Strides four and a half years ago, I have done my very best to start out my week by attending class on Monday. That’s no longer an option for me because of the current school schedule and while I knew I would miss attending class on Mondays, I truly didn’t realize how much it would effect me emotionally and mentally. Going to class at the beginning of the week and doing something for myself with my children and with women who are in the same stage of life as me has been so beneficial for me throughout the years. I’m now working towards making an at-home workout part of my Monday routine but, goodness, it certainly is a tough transition. If you can go to class on Mondays, I beg you to make it part of your routine. I know that it may seem like a small thing but I promise you that you will notice how much better you feel by starting out your week taking care of yourself. And, at the very least, attend class simply because I can't be there to keep Marissa in line. :-)

So that’s where I’m at, which if I’m honest, cannot be nailed down to an exact spot. I WANT to attend class more than once each week. I WANT to be able to maintain a somewhat flexible schedule. What if I can’t make both those options work right now? One option makes me feel a bit stressed and the other option makes me feel a bit sad. So...what’s better? Stressed or sad? Or perhaps it’s just momentary stress and sadness that will subside over time. I know this is just a temporary situation and that next school year when my oldest is in kindergarten (and I’m crying every day because I miss him….), I’ll be able to easily attend more classes. But right now? This school year? The nine months ahead of me? I have to somehow figure out how to continue to take care of myself so that I’m the best wife, mother, friend, individual that I can be. I am still just as enthusiastic about the FIT4MOM organization and will always be an advocate for this program. I think that the fact that not attending class as regularly as I want to is having such an impact on me is a testament to what an important role it plays in my life. I’m simply dealing with the ebb and flow of life (and motherhood) and, well, sometimes I don’t “ebb & flow” as smoothly as I’d like to.

Take care of yourselves, mamas. Obviously I had a nice system of self-care going for awhile and it’s currently under an adjustment but I am determined to figure it out. My sanity, my patience, my ability to be fully present in the moments that truly matter depend on my commitment to taking care of myself. I’m not alone in this. This applies to you, too. You need to take care of yourself.

I’ve had these two quotes running through my head as I sort through what I need in this season to be the best version of myself and I’d love to share them with you before I close out this post.

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

--Eleanor Brownn

"So much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath. We live in a culture that shouts, that prescribes rather narrowly what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life.

But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in, to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough, for our homes to be large and spotless, our children well-mannered and clean-faced, our dreams orderly and profitable. But that's not life. That's not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.

The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain is only meant, created, commanded to pour down. You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely."

--Shauna Niequist, "Present Over Perfect"

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