Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taking good care of yourself when you've got small kids. (Answer not provided)

As I said goodbye to my Mum on the phone yesterday she told me, as she often does, to take good care of myself. I love my Mum. After a brief pause I responded, as I always do, that I would. Sometimes in that pause I find myself wondering whether to laugh or cry at the question. It seems so ambiguous. What does it even mean - to take care of yourself? Does it mean - get a good night's sleep? Eat properly? Exercise? Drink enough water? Does it mean to rest more? Eat more chocolate? Get regular massages?

I find myself in the peculiar and unenviable position of asking aloud that seemingly simple question - what does it mean to take care of oneself? I think I used to know. It used to be something to do with sleeping in on the weekend, taking vacations every few months and doing yoga. But somewhere in between growing up and being grown up I managed to lose it.

I still haven't kicked this stupid cold/virus thing - it's been a month now. A month! Maybe that's why I can't get my head around the question. And, now that I'm a hypochondriac, I'm still inventing ailments for myself: earlier today I decided I must have cracked a rib when I was coughing so hard last night - that would explain the pain on my left side when I breathe in. You see? I'm losing my mind, people. Losing it.

And, you know how, when you're not altogether healthy, everything is so much more difficult to deal with?

Like - life? 

I keep waiting for motherhood to get easier. (Stop laughing!) I had it on good authority from my next door neighbour that the first two years with two kids were the hardest. Now, as we turn the corner with a preschooler and a two year old, things are, um... not. I keep waiting for the difficult stages to pass and be replaced by easier, calmer stages. But instead of calm, more challenges phases appear as the boys enter new phases of development.

And with my potentially but probably not cracked rib and my hacking cough, my patience is about as thin as a string of floss that's been split a hundred times. Instead of being the composed, even-tempered mother I wish I was, I'm like a raging bear with a sore head.

So I'll wait to feel better and my energy to return, and then I'll figure out this taking care of myself business.

Tell me readers, I really really really (that's three reallys by the way) want to know - what do you do to take care of yourself?
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Anonymous said...

Well, as someone whose oldest didn't sleep through the night until he was 6 (he's 7 now) and was up 2-10+x a night from pregnancy until then.. i am not sure what to tell you. It does get a bit easier, when they sleep better. But then they FIGHT all the time and I find that harder than sleep deprivation. Right now, I am crashing out, because yet again, my daughter is sick. Her fever was up to 103 earlier, so the smart thing to do would be go to bed and hope it's better than last night.
My advice. I take 40min's a week at the gym, min..(I also pull a bike trailer with them in it) Exercise is so key to destressing and staying healthy. Also, never go to bed more than 90mins after the kids. I break this rule a lot, but if you don't - you will sleep more.

Loukia said...

I worry all the time about my health, as you know. And about my children. Yet, despite my worry aboaut my health, I rarely go to the doctor, just in case I hear something I don't want to hear! I don't do much to take care of myself, honestly. I eat okay, but not well enough and I only sporadically exercise, and usually in the summer or before a trip! Right now I'm not eating carbs - yet again - because I'm going to Florida and want to lose weight quickly. I did quit smoking, though, that's something good! But oh, how i miss it... I am also going to book a massage soon, too!

LisaDay said...

It's such a mom thing to say. My mom says it to me each time we chat. I think she means good sleep. I figure one day I will get it.

I hope your cracked rib heals, your sickness goes away and you return to happy mom soon.


Bear and Bones Mama said...

I try to get exercise, if not every day then several times a week. I manage this by getting up at 4:40 every day M-F. I'm at the gym by 5 and I have an hour. Then I shower and for me I go to work.

It's actually great. Never any lines for anything. I swim or run on treadmill/outside (depending on the time of year), or do the elliptical. Or bike, tho more rarely.

But it helps me setup my day and gives me energy and,tho honestly I'm not a small person, I feel good about my butt. Well, I could feel better but I think only liposuction will help with that.

I made the commitment to do this and I am doing it.

Lady Mama said...

Anonymous - 6 years of not sleeping must have been killer! I agree, exercise is so important.

Loukia - Great that you stopped smoking! Get that massage!

LisaDay - Yes, probably the sleep. It really is key to everything.

Bear and Bones Mama - Wow! Good for you, that is fabulous. Maybe one day when I'm back into a really great sleep routine I'll think about exercising in the morning - it would be such a perfect time to do it.

swankmommy said...

Well, since Grandpa died everything has flown out the window. My exercising, eating right, doing yoga and getting acupuncture. Bye bye.

We have been consistently all ill since his death and I feel like there is no end in sight. It's like once you get knocked down, it's extremely hard to get back up. Parenting kicks my ass on a good day, let alone when I am really ill. I have only one child too!

So, I guess all the things I said at the start of the comment are what I do to stay in a good place. Finding the time is hard! Walking was the easiest way for me to stay on top of exercising. I would pop out for 30 mins after dinner or do treadmill in the morning. The rest was here and there when I had time.

I'm in the same space and I wish I had more positive news! I think eventually something will just click and you will get back into the swing of things and start getting better.

Lady Mama said...

swankmommy - you've had such a hard time of it recently, Miranda. I think it's starting with small steps - get back out walking again when you can, and slowly build up to where you were at before. I want to try acupuncture too.

Angela said...

I exercise - that is key. When I exercise regularly, I feel good and I look better - which puts me in a much better state of mind. To get my exercise, I bought an at-home elliptical (gym-quality machine, we are fortunate enough to have the space in our house for it) and I get up every weekday at 5 AM. I leave for my FT job by 7:30 AM, kids get up around 6 AM.

No matter how tired I feel or don't feel in the evenings, I am in bed by 9:30 PM, either sleeping, reading or surfing the web. Lights out by 10 PM. NO exceptions except on weekends. Weekday evenings are sacred and I do not agree to evening activities outside the kids extra-curriculars and my volunteer work.

My kids are 5 and 8 YO, and I make sure THEY are in bed by 7:30/8 PM respectively, so I get my hour in the evening to unwind (and make lunches...sigh).

Lady Mama said...

Angela - exercise is key for me too. I really need to stop finding excuses and just start doing something. And the early nights are a great idea.

ModernMom said...

Still struggling with this one. I have decided I really am not good to anyone if I feel like crap:) With that in mind I do try and eat at least some fruit and veggies through the week, get at least ohhh 6 hours of sleep a night and stop drinking coffee when my hands start shaking violently. Seems to help!
Hugs...hope your rib feels better!

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I'm sorry that you're STILL sick....ugh!

I take care of myself with a couple of glasses of a reqlly good red wine.

Not every day, but on weekends, it is my indulgence.

I look forward to it all week.

We put the kids in bed, put a movie on, glass of red and smelly cheese. Not good for the waistline but good for Fiona's mood!

Midwest Mommy said...

Oh please don't tell me this cold will be here for a month. I am on day 4 and going nuts!