If you have been following my blog for a while now, you will know that I made a resolution at the beginning of this year. My resolution was to start taking better care of myself! It was not intended solely for my own benefit, but for that of all those I am responsible for as well. I had decided to start simple by promising to allocate some “me time” every single night, from then on, to allow myself to unwind and recharge in preparation for the challenges that lay ahead the following day. It could range from a few minutes one day to a couple of hours in the other, nothing carved in stone. I had promised to report back on the matter and let you know of my progress. I imagine today to be as good a day as any to do so and to also reflect on the countless benefits of putting yourselves at the top of your own priority lists.
It’s been three short months yet I have already benefited so much from following through on my resolution! I have to admit though, that for the past couple of weeks I fell off the band wagon. I had a ton of important things to take care of and there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Don’t you just love it when tax season hits while you are swamped at work, your kids are ill and you have some studying to do?! I am still all over the place but I started to go back to having at least 15 minutes to myself before going to bed every night.
Putting myself at the top of my own priority list feels great! My entire life, I’ve been putting my loved ones first. I would spend twenty-four hours a day listening to them, taking care of what they needed, watching whatever they wanted to watch, doing whatever they wanted to do and running errands all over the place. It’s true what they say; mothers are chauffeurs, cooks, counselors, personal assistants, nurses, waitresses, teachers, event planners, alarm clocks, handymen, security officers and much more … all bundled up into one tired bundle. We work 24/7, don’t get any days off and are always on call. We’re not allowed to get ill and if we do, we can’t take sick leave. Now, if you’re a working mother, a single mother or a working single mother (*gasp*) then that’s a completely different story! Those women are like no other, truly.
We never learned to slow down. We watched our mothers go at turbo speed and they watched their mothers do the same who, in turn, watched their mothers do it too. One generation after the other until it was set in our minds that this is what we are supposed to do and if the mere thought of doing things differently even crossed our minds, we’d immediately feel guilty! Doing something for yourself or something that you liked essentially means that you are selfishly neglecting your duties and your family. I believe this notion applies even if you are not a mother, just being the female head of the household (sometimes the daughter, sister or aunt is more so than the mother herself) puts you in this position.
Reclaiming that power and listening to my most intrinsic needs, with the help of the relentless advice coming from those who truly love and care about me, made all the difference in the world. I feel empowered rather than selfish. I feel important rather than less significant than those I love. I feel great rather than guilty. I believe that I deserve whatever little time I can allocate to myself. I am a slave to my family and work all day and those few minutes would not make any difference to them but make a world of a difference to me.
I now wake up happier than before. I used to wake up dreading the day ahead, feeling emotionally and physically drained before even setting my feet on the ground because of the burdens I would be carrying on my shoulders from the day before. I now go to bed with a big smile on my face and lightness in my heart and wake up feeling refreshed. When I indulge in something that I like or want to do, no matter how small, it helps me unwind and unload some of the heaviness I’ve been carrying around all day. It also prevents me from thinking about my to-do list until the very last second and from carrying those thoughts over into my restless sleep and the morning after. It serves as a break, just like when you are told to leave your work behind when you head home, it’s the same thing. Creating this time for myself also makes me feel appreciated. We are so used to waiting to be appreciated by others that we seldom think about self-appreciation and it’s benefits. It still feels great to be complemented by my husband, children or friends but that doesn’t mean I can’t reward myself as well. It feels like giving yourself a pat on the back and a big hug for a job well done all day.
Not only that, I noticed that I am calmer, more patient and able to focus better than before. It actually feels healthier doing this, I’m not sure why exactly but I imagine it’s for a number of co-dependent reasons. People I deal with on a daily basis noted that I am less stressed and more inclined to do things with a smile rather than a “oh my God, one more thing to add to the never-ending list” attitude. I now have the patience to repeat things over and over to my children, to see them fight and not erupt in their faces and to deal with their bickering and whining without having my own spirit broken in the process. I am more capable of offering to take on more tasks when it comes to the ones shared between my husband and I and do them efficiently. I am also able to push myself farther on the professional front. Whenever we have a family night or one-on-one time with my husband or even when all four of us go out on the weekend I am not painstakingly tired and feel all beaten up any more (for the most part at least). On the contrary, I’m excited, ready to go and even come up with new ideas for things we can do and places we can visit. Hence, everyone is happier and I am better able to meet their needs while not letting that take away from me at the same time.
Even if I have to sacrifice a few minutes of sleep, the benefits I reap make me feel like it was totally worth it and I don’t even want to make up for this, supposedly, lost time. I can safely say that scheduling “me time” on a daily basis is helping me maintain my sanity and emotional well-being and is giving me the drive to start another day looking forward to it instead of completely dreading it. I cannot thank my husband enough for being understanding and even reminding me to take that little time off whenever he sees me submerged in other tasks till the very last moment of the day. I cannot thank my sweet friends for relentlessly reminding me, for years, that I should take this step. Charlotte W., Dina S., Yasmina H. and Randa E., thank you for caring so much … you were right, a little self-love goes a long, long way 🙂