Tag Archives: nurturing others

Primary Caretaker – Me time

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Me time

Art from lineleoff.com

 

Over a 25 year period, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate self-awareness workshops. What I found is that there are countless numbers of us, both women and men, who have taken on the role of primary caretaker and as a result have put aside our own self-nurturing and self-care. This is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to develop a life lived with joy.

In some of these workshops, taking care of oneself seemed an almost alien concept to some. “What do you mean by self-nurturing?” They would ask. We raise our children while maintaining a healthy environment for them. We promote education, gently guiding family members in particular directions when a talent is recognized. We are there to “lift up” our spouses, significant others, friends and colleagues when they’re blue. We rise in the morning thinking of others. We go through each day, each hour, sometimes each moment planning how we will care for our family members, friends, or coworkers. We are the nurturers of the world!

I am mother to five children (now ages twenty-one through thirty-eight). When they were younger, I remember getting up in the morning before anyone else was awake heading for the shower already thinking of the dentist appointments, what to cook later for dinner and when? How would I get my then sixteen year old to a German club meeting and still get to the event I had volunteered for? Mind moving on and on, all of these thoughts occurring within a moment or two’s time… once resolved, I moved on to the other challenges I’d face that day.

Back then, time for my own interests was difficult to find. Whether to begin doctorate work became an anxiety ridden decision. Who would help with evening homework if I wasn’t home? Would my sixteen year old bring a troop of friends over while I was out? How would I prepare any kind of meal before I left for the evening? And finally, was the coursework something I even wanted to do? Or was I feeling pressured by my peers and employer? Talk about stress. One simple decision became a masterpiece of confusion and anxiety.

Does this sound familiar to you? Knowing how to care for ourselves, how to journey through each day being gentle on ourselves, being just as considerate of our “self” as we would be toward a family member, friend, or coworker… this is what we need to work toward and maintain. From a young age many of us were taught to be caretakers, we were conditioned to believe that it was our responsibility to care for others while our own needs were put aside. Today, many of us are caring for children or young adults, while very possibly caring for aging parents at the same time.

When you have a few minutes, try the following activity. What are some of the things that you do for others on a daily basis?

DO: List what you do for other people on a daily basis, right down to the smallest detail. 

Here’s an example of what a typical day looked like for me while raising my children and working a full time:

  • Cooked breakfast before school and work
  • Cleaned up the dishes and started the dishwasher
  • Made school lunches and my lunch for work
  • Threw in a load of laundry in both the dryer and the washer
  • Made beds
  • Worked all day at the office
  • Fed the birds
  • Paid Bills
  • “Helped” the kids do their chores
  • Took recycling out to the garage
  • Did the banking
  • Helped my oldest write his resume
  • Called a friend in need
  • Stopped at the store to pick up household goods
  • Worked on insurance benefits

My list was for a full day and I’ve most likely forgotten several things since that time. When you listed your day, you probably found your own list growing longer and longer with responsibilities that you typically do on “autopilot” and promptly forget. What I ask you to do next is more of a challenge. How much of your day is spent doing something for yourself, something rejuvenating or stress relieving? Something educational or a hobby you enjoy?

DO: List your own self-nurturing activities now.

I know you listed fewer activities. And you’re not alone! The majority of the people that have attended my workshops have had shorter lists as well. If you aren’t nurturing yourself, if you’re operating on overload… Not caring for you can lead to stress-filled days, resentment toward others, and finally burnout. What I’m suggesting is that you take the time to attend to your own well-being, just as you do for so many others.

Are you over-doing? It’s time to take steps toward self-nurturing. You are worthy of the same care you provide to others. You are just as important… just as special. Incorporate a reality check into each morning of your day. Evaluate what you want to happen in the day and how you’ll put some “me” time into your schedule. Set that time aside and stick to it as much as possible. Check it off at the end of each day. It doesn’t have to be some long impossible list. Here’s an example of my activities list. I would choose one or two from the list to incorporate into the day:

  • Work out
  • Spend time walking in nature
  • Sit at the local bookstore and sip tea
  • Read for 30 minutes after dinner
  • Write uninterrupted for one hour
  • Answer friends e-mail
  • Lunch with a friend at work
  • Sketch in my journal
  • Read and post affirmations
  • Attend a cooking class
  • Join a book discussion club
  • Have friends over once a week to just sit and gab
  • Refurbish a piece of furniture
  • Garden
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate

What did you put on your list? Choose one activity close to your heart and begin incorporating it into your day or week. Make it formal by putting it on your calendar or daily schedule. Block the time out for you! I’d love to hear some of the activities you’ve incorporated into the day or week just for yourself.

Next week: “You are the Hub of the Wheel,” an activity that helps create a visual snapshot of your life activities and responsibilities. Have a fabulous week!

Nurturing Self

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For many years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several types of support groups.  During this time, it’s become apparent that many of us, being primary caretakers, have not learned self-nurturing, one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to step toward a life lived with happiness.

While discussing the topic of self-nurturing with others, I’ve discovered that taking care of oneself is an almost alien concept.  What do I mean by self-nurturing?  Webster’s dictionary defines nurturing as “…anything that nourishes; the act or process of raising or promoting the development of; training; rearing; upbringing; and fostering.”

We sustain and guide our children while maintaining a healthy environment for them. We promote education and steer family members in the right direction when a talent is recognized.  We are there to “lift up” our spouses, significant others, friends and colleagues when they’re blue.  We rise in the morning thinking of others.  We go through each day, each hour, and each moment planning how we will care for our family members, friends, or coworkers, because we care.

The mother of five children, I get up in the morning, hit the shower, already thinking of the dentist appointments, and what and when will dinner take place?  How will I get my sixteen year old to a German club meeting and still get to the event I volunteered for?  And on and on, all of these thoughts occur within a one or two-minute time frame, once resolved, I move on to thinking of other issues I know I’ll face that day.

Major activities are difficult.  Whether to begin doctorate coursework is an anxiety ridden decision.  Who will help with evening homework if I’m not there? How will I fight the traffic home and then prepare any kind of dinner before leaving for the evening?  And finally, is the coursework something I even want to do? Talk about stress.  One simple decision becomes a masterpiece of confusion and anxiety.

Does this sound familiar to you? Knowing how to care for ourselves, how to journey through each day, taking care to preserve ourselves, being gentle on ourselves, being just as considerate of ourselves as we would a family member,  friend, or coworker, this is what we need to accomplish.

As women (and men too), from a young age, we are raised to be caregivers.  From a young age we are taught that it is our responsibility to care for everyone else while our own needs are put aside.  Today, many of us are caring for children while at the same time caring for aging parents or other family members.

Take the time now to do the following activity.  What are some of the things that you do for others on a daily basis?  This activity will help you put together a visual snapshot.

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR OTHERS DAILY?

Sit down and list on paper what you do for other people on a daily basis, take your time and get right down to the smallest detail.

Here’s an example of what a typical day might look like for me:

Cooked breakfast before school and work

Cleaned up the dishes and started the dishwasher

Made school lunches and my lunch for work

Threw laundry in both the dryer and the washer

Made beds

 Worked a full day

Fed the birds

Paid Bills

Took recycling out to the garage

Stopped at the bank

 Helped my oldest write his resume

 Called a friend in need

 Stopped to pick up household goods

 Worked on insurance benefits

My list is for a full day.  I know I skipped several things, like writing a business plan with my older son and running out to pick up last-minute school supplies for the next day for another.  Rushed activity causes mindlessness! When you listed your day, you probably found your list growing longer and longer with responsibilities you typically do on autopilot and promptly forget.

What I ask you to do next is more of a challenge.  How much of your day is spent doing something for yourself, something rejuvenating or stress free?  Something educational or a hobby you enjoy? List those activities on paper or in your journal.

I know you filled in fewer lines.  Chances are you couldn’t fill in half of the page.  And you’re not alone!  The majority of the people who attend my workshops can’t fill them in either.   If you are operating on overload…chances are significant others or family members are suffering the backlash of your stressed life.  Not caring for you can lead to resentments toward others.  What I’m suggesting is that you take the time to attend to your own well-being is just as you do for others.

Several years ago I recognized how wrapped up in responsibilities I’d become.  It was impossible for me to sit down.  I had to learn to slow down.  Sit and relax.  I had to learn that it was ok for me to have time just for me.  And I remind myself over and over again on a day-to-day basis, because I forget!  The autopilot takes over and like you I get buried all over again.  It’s all about staying conscious, mindful of the moments.

Are you over doing?  It’s time to take that first step towards self-care.  Realize that you are worthy of the same care you give others.  You are just as important, just as special.

Incorporate a reality check into each morning of your day.  Evaluate what you want to happen in your day and how you’ll put some “me” time into your schedule.  Set that time aside and stick to it as much as possible.  And check it out at the end of each day.  It doesn’t have to be some long impossible list.  Here’s an example of some optional activities things I may incorporate into my day for enjoyment and self-nurturing:

Work out at the gym

Sit at the local bookstore and sip tea

Read for 30 minutes after dinner

Write uninterrupted for one hour

Surf the net for 15 minutes to answer friends e-mail

Lunch with a friend at work

Sketch in my journal

Read and post affirmations

These are just a few.  Other activities include taking an interest class, like watercolor or kickboxing, joining a book discussion club at the library, or having friends over once a week to just sit and gab.

What can you put on your list?

Now choose one activity and begin incorporating it into your day.  Make it formal by putting it on your calendar or daily schedule.  Block the time out for yourself, schedule your Self  into your day! Happy Planning! (C. Morgan, Copyright 2005)