"I have noticed that the idea of loving oneself has a peculiar shame associated with it, a shame found only in Western cultures"
> of narcissism. As you love your children, wouldn't you want them to love themselves with the same enthusiasm, the same joy? I have noticed that the idea of loving oneself has a peculiar shame associated with it, a shame found only in Western cultures. It seems that we have viewed self-love as self-centeredness and egotism. Perhaps we would do well to think of this kind of love in a different way. In the spirit of wishing you happiness, I will share with you some specifics of loving, selfcare that you can do now.
self care basics 1MENTAL QUIET Take five minutes a day, preferably in the morning, perhaps before you take a shower, to 'check-in' with yourself. For those of you who pray, make this your time. For those of you who don't, make this a time of reflection, perhaps focusing yourself on your goals for the day, on the mood and thoughts that you want to have, etc. You might try getting a dayby-day book that offers specific thoughts for each day. If you are at all like me, I couldn't even imagine having five minutes to myself. So I started with 30 seconds, while lying in bed nursing a baby, then increased it to one minute, then found a way to get out of bed a few minutes before the babies. As with most things in life, keep practicing at it and eventually you will find a routine that works for you. It will make a big difference. Some people find they can get up before others in the household and meditate, others find their time comes late at night when the house is quiet. Search for your own rhythm — it will be worth it.
2Afirmation Some of us may find the concept of self-love hard to imagine. I was given a mirror exercise that I found particularly helpful, and I pass it on to you, in the hopes that it will provide you with some much needed centering. I guarantee you, it does not take very long to say but the rewards are wonderful. First thing in the morning, look yourself in the mirror and say to yourself: "I love you. You are beautiful. You are whole in mind, body, spirit and soul. The whole universe supports your every need, wish and desire." Repeat this nine times, and then end by saying, "So be it, so be it, so be it".
3Exercise Make sure you have physical exercise in your weekly routine. Wearing a baby is exhausting after about the first three months and after about the millionth hour. You need to get physically strong again, so that you can tolerate the physical stress of mothering. This will most likely mean that you need some kind of babysitting arrangement, but again, you must take care of yourself. Some mums have found yoga tapes have done the trick, and that, as their baby gets older, he/she joins in on the fun. Experiment and find what works for you.
4Rest If you recently gave birth, and even if your child is older, make sure you've had some recuperative time after the delivery itself. That may mean a massage or chiropractic care or a splurge of a few hours at a nearby spa. Make sure you are continuing with vitamins, and are eating a healthy diet. I know I relied too much on caffeine — try to avoid this particular avenue for getting your pep and rejuvenation.
5Ask for help And ask for more help. Call friends, call relatives, call API (Attachment Parenting International), but make sure you call. You and your partner should not carry the enormity of parenting yourselves. Pamper yourself and hire a housekeeper for the present time. One of my good friends hired someone to make delicious, healthy dinners so that she could spend more time with her daughter and not feel frazzled during the dinner time hour.
6Tune in Throughout the day, check in with your emotional state. It might be helpful to follow what Louise Hay suggests, which is to constantly remind yourself that "I approve of myself". That may counter negative, self-destructive thoughts.
7Take abreak And insist upon it. Even when my children were younger, I tried to insist on just ten minutes of reading or meditation time. They would often sit down near me, and imitate my meditating, or they would colour or have a few minutes of quiet time. Just ten minutes, when done on a regular basis, can go a long way. But it must be on a regular basis.
8Sothe your soul Put on some music that you enjoy, music that soothes you. Even if this is for ten minutes at a clip, it still will nurture you inside.
9Asert your belief in selfcare Have your children participate in loving you and loving themselves. Arrange for 'family massage' time, plan for a night of special treats like eating ice cream, watching a family movie together, or even having family manicure time. Turn off the phone, lower the volume on the answering machine, and insist on your own separate time — even ten minutes in another room, done consistently, can be helpful. Perhaps you can even work with your children to give you and your partner a 'date' upstairs while they are downstairs, even if that means hiring a mother's helper for a few hours.
10Refuel Keep doing that which refuels you. If that is sewing, then sew. If that is reading, then read. If that is sending and answering email, then do it. Remember, you are worth it!! Your children and your partner will thank you. The separate time I've detailed here amounts to about 40 minutes a day. Split this out over the day, and that's only 4% of each waking hour spent on self-care. You can afford to spend that on yourself.
Want to know more? The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time Cheryl Richardson tinyurl.com/extremecare When I Loved Myself Enough Kim McMillen tinyurl.com/kimmcmillen Imperfectly Natural Woman: Getting Life Right the Natural Way Janey Lee Grace tinyurl.com/jleegrace
10 The Green Parent
Karen is a psychotherapist and author of Creating the Capacity for Attachment
(tinyurl.com/karenwalant). She lives with her children in New York. S AFETY•COMFORT•SECURITY
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