A Self-Care Challenge for Real Motherhood: A Four Week Plan

Self-care is talked about a lot these days, and for good reason.

Just in the last article, I talked about how it wasn’t exactly seen as necessary for parents to take time for themselves, because there was a narrative out there that your children were your one and only focus. Clearly, it made for some bad times. We see that now, and that’s an awesome thing.

But.

I feel like, if you aren’t careful, you’ll stumble on self-care plans or “challenges” for people whose children are either made of cardboard or are grown and out of the house or something. These challenges will suggest things like meditating for 20 minutes or a night cooking for someone, both of which could be possible I suppose, but would involve sitting in silence, or making dinner. One is kind of hard to do when you’re listening to “mommymommymommymommy” all day long, and the other is a thing most of us probably do anyway. All self-care is not created equal, is what I’m saying. So I thought I’d try my hand at coming up with a self-care challenge that’s actually split into weeks, so that you have a chance to make this happen somewhere within the seven days you’ve got available. The goal is to make it happen once a day, but obviously that can be difficult, so once a week is the barrier of entry here:

Week One: Get a word in edgewise.

During this week, you have to have at least one conversation that’s completely uninterrupted by screaming or demands. It has to be with another adult, it has to be longer than five minutes, and it can’t be about your kids. That goes for kid-related stuff, too. So no poop, no behavior-related questions, and no freaking out over whether or not picking their nose and eating it is considered normal. It is. Just talk with someone, and listen to them talk. You’d be surprised how that helps you stay sane and feel a bit more human.

Week Two: “This is mine.”

This week, allow yourself something that is yours and yours alone. It can be a snack, a book, a TV show, or —yes—meditation time. But it belongs to you. No one is allowed to talk you into a different book or TV show. If someone asks for a bite of your snack, hiss, say “no,” and shove the entire thing in your mouth.The whole point is to allow yourself full autonomy in some small fashion. When you don’t get that very often at all, the short moments of it count for a lot.

Week Three: Pat yourself on the back.

This one is an important one to try to do every day if possible. At the end of the day, no matter how shitty it was or how much you messed up, you have to mention one thing you did well. It can be small or large, and you can write it down or just say it out loud, but you have to do this before you go to bed. It's easy to get lazy with this, too, I know. To be all “well, I put my pants on and didn’t fall over. Okay, goodnight, I’m crying myself to sleep now.” But it doesn’t work well unless you really commit to trying to think of something. You’ll be surprised to find that there’s always something.

Alternatively, if you do this once in the week, that’s cool, but you’ll have to come up with three things from throughout that week.

Week Four: I Woke Up Like This

However you want to look, look that way. Do you want to wear a messy bun and no pants? Do it. Do you feel like putting on makeup and doing your hair? Distract the kids with snacks or something and do it. Hell, if you want to wear a rain poncho and ballet slippers, do it. Whatever it takes for you to feel confident and beautiful, you do it, and commit to owning it all day long. Don’t worry about how others may take it, and strut your stuff. Unless you’re doing the no pants thing — then please put those on before going outside. I don’t have the money to bail you out of jail.

Listen, as mentioned, we do have to make ourselves a priority. We also have to learn to make the little things count. The suggestions above may sound elementary to some of you, but often we forget to do them. It’s hard consistently trying to fit yourself into the massive puzzle that is family life, but we have to if we want to see the whole picture — even if that means we have to do it in little bits at a time.

If you try this, let me know how it goes for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a snack.

Arianna Bradford is a wife and mother of two young children. Her interests include reading, napping, and watching as many movies as possible. She’s also the founder of The NYAM Project and really hopes you like it.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

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