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All this pressure, all this guilt—it sure isn't helping anybody. It's time to do something that will help the entire family. Nurture yourself! This section has a wide variety of suggestions—from the small to the big—to get you started taking care of yourself. The first task is to convince yourself that not only are you “worth it,” but that your family is “worth it,” too.
Disengage! Your kid is not you—his successes are not your successes, his failings are not your failings. Don't take his behavior personally.
Replenishing your energy is not self-indulgent. Far from it. It is a necessary part of parenting. When the world is overwhelming and you're trying to do 12 things at exactly the same time with no breaks, it's hard to be reasonable. (You're likely to be very cranky, too.) If your child is misbehaving, you need to have distance from the situation to figure out the most effective way of dealing with it. You need to have the fortitude to go the distance—parenting is fatiguing. Hot-tempered, exhausted parents are not the best disciplinarians! To gain perspective and strength, you must separate yourself from your child and the world and replenish. All this spells out “self-care.”
Self-care is daily, too—for the next few weeks, build in down-time, blank space, a few moments to an hour every day of time alone just for self-nurturing. Here are some suggestions to begin thinking about. The first take only a few minutes (but that doesn't mean they aren't powerful and replenishing), the later ones take longer. After you look at these suggestions, I'll give you a work sheet for you to create your own pamper list using these suggestions (if you like them) plus ones of your own:
Got 30 seconds?
- Take 10 long, deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth.
- Relax those shoulders. You are (at least in part) your body. When your body is relaxed, so are you.
Got six minutes?
- Turn on some music and dance wildly for six minutes.
- Eat a ripe peach, slowly, alone.
- Eat a square of good, dark, chocolate. Okay, eat two squares!
- Change your clothes into something that makes you feel really attractive.
- Write down three things that you did well yesterday, whether large or small. Your list might read: 1) Cleaned the birdcage. 2) Made a play date for Betty. 3) Wrote 10 pages of my book. If you do it tomorrow, it might read: 1) Washed my hair. 2) Complimented my boss. 3) Won Nobel Prize.
Got 30 minutes?
- Talk with a good friend on the phone.
- Play a card game with your partner.
- Take a stroll through your neighborhood.
- Work a little in the garden.
- Take a “power” nap—20 minutes of midday snuggling with the comforter and pillows. Don't worry if you don't sleep, just enjoy resting.
- Look up a friend or lover in the phone book (No! Not for romance!), call the person, and reminisce about the old days.