Self-care is my favorite thing, but honestly, the amount of work that it currently takes for me to get some space and actually take care of myself is so monumental.
It’s 8:00 on Wednesday morning. I’m standing in my kitchen, trying to remember just WTF I’m doing. My preschooler is playing trains in the living room, even though I have asked him six times to brush his teeth after trying to get him to focus on eating breakfast for thirty minutes before that.
My infant daughter is starting to cry over the monitor, ready for me to go upstairs and feed her. My husband is in his home office, talking loudly over his headset to his project manager on the East Coast, and I just want everyone to be quiet for 15 seconds so I can remember why the eff I’m in the kitchen.
This is a common morning in our home.
I am fully in charge during our weekday morning routine. Okay, maybe “in charge” is a bit of a stretch. I’m the one carrying out all of the 237 tiny tasks to get my children out the door to preschool or play dates or the grocery store. Three mornings a week, I drop my son off at school and come home to work while being an on-demand milk tap for a no-napping infant.
Fact: I wrote 200 words of this article before my baby insisted on eating. This is considered a win in my life.
I’m not complaining about the amazing kids I have, the husband who faithfully works every day to bring home the majority of our income, the home that is safe and warm and dry, or my own ability to work from home while raising our kids. That is an extreme privilege and I’m entirely aware of that. I thank the baby Zeus for it daily.
When I talked to my doctor about the forgetfulness and resulting anxiety I was experiencing, she suggested that I make lists, try bullet point journaling, and work on taking more time for self-care.
I love those suggestions. I do.
And if a list or a journal or weekly window of self-care could make this better, it would. I have lists that seem to only grow in their to-do’s, journals that grow dusty next to my be because it takes brain power to tune in with that kind of focus. And self-care is my favorite thing, but honestly, the amount of work that it currently takes for me to get some space and actually take care of myself is so monumental that it often isn’t worth the pre-work to get there.
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For example: I’ve needed a haircut and color for 6 months. I finally bit the bullet, arranged childcare, made an appointment and then the work of lining up everything for my children while I was gone commenced. I needed to pump milk for the baby, arrange dinner for my son and his buddy while his mama took care of all three, and then I had to actually get to my appointment. The whole time I was in the chair, I was inundated with questions from my husband about the plans for the rest of the evening, things we needed to accomplish over the weekend, reminders about school fees and programs, and a woefully neglected inbox full of work emails that needed to be returned.
By the time I left, I felt better about my inbox, but that’s about it. I didn’t have much space to just rest and feel nurtured, and the sheer amount of logistical output and mental labor involved made me remember exactly why this only happens once a year.
I don’t think I’m alone in this either. My financial contribution to our household is necessary, not optional. We don’t take vacations, we drive 10 year old cars, and we have a fair amount of medical debt that we’ve been trying to dig our way out of for almost 5 years. I have flexibility in my schedule, which is great. But there’s a misconception that I have MORE time to do things. I don’t. I have time to feed my baby on demand, sleep sometimes, do the bare minimum amount of work for work, do the dishes while everyone eats, eat while everyone sleeps, and sometimes somebody gets the stomach flu so I clean the house.
Now, it’s 6:30 in the morning and guess what? I’m up. I’m working. I’ve fed the baby, and now I hear my 4-year-old thumping around upstairs. It’s a matter of minutes until he wakes up his baby sister and I start my day of cleaning, caring, cooking, and working. I’ve already forgotten and remembered the appointments I made weeks ago for my daughter’s check-up and my son’s kindergarten school tour.
Oh, and this article is 24 hours late.
Oops. Make that ONE WEEK late. Because I forgot to hit send on this article and it’s all too much.