But when I consistently postpone my own needs for the sake of others, especially for their lesser needs or simply their desires, then I am walking a tightrope between wellness and problems, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. And in the process, I may be limiting my ability to help help those I love in the future.
So when my children need my attention, and I want to do something else, it is good and loving to put my "something else" aside for my children. When my daughter wakes up with hives at 3:00 a.m., it is good and loving for me to get up and take care of her. But if I am sleeping, and my son wakes me up at 2:00 a.m. wanting to play, it is foolish to get up and give in to that.
Of course, not everything in life is so clear cut, huh? I wish it were! But if we have some definite ways in mind that we need to take care of ourselves, it helps. So here are some specific ways we should be taking care of ourselves - and ways that we can give ourselves permission to do so!
Take care of your body
Get enough sleep.
Resist the oh-so-strong temptation to stay up to the wee hours of the night because that is when the kids are asleep and the house is quiet and you can have time to yourself. Did you know that regardless of when you go to bed, or how long you sleep, our bodies are wired to sleep better and more deeply if you go to sleep by 10:00 p.m.? People have tried to mess with this, to no avail. It's just the way our bodies are set up.
This is one I'm still struggling to deal with. I love me some carbs! And I have a sweet tooth! But I am finally accepting that I need to make our family diet a consistently healthier one, and am trying to learn how to do this better, for all of our sakes.
I don't like the discomfort that seems to always come with exercise, but I do like the benefits. So I am taking baby steps. With the warmer weather finally settling in, we are trying to regularly take walks as a family. I am also brushing off the Homeschool Mom Fitness program that I purchased last summer and make a go of that again. It shows you how to get really good cardio exercise and strength training in 10-minute easy-to-fit-in spurts during the day.
This may sound silly to some, but do you ever find yourself putting off showering because there is just no good time to do it? I do!! A shower is not a luxury, friend! It is a legitimate need, and you need to make time for it!
Take care of your mind and heart
Read a book.
Not just one to your children, either. A book YOU want to read. An actual hold-it-in-your-hands book, if you can manage it, because that is easier on the eyes than reading one on your phone or tablet.
Talk to a friend.
We need each other, and sharing life with friends helps with our mental health.
Do something you enjoy.
This doesn't have to be a whole new hobby, but take time to do what is meaningful to you.
Take time to smile and laugh.
Laughter is good for the soul! I do hate that so many "comedies" in the theater are based on coarse humor, but good genuine humor is out there, even if you have to get a kids' joke book out of the library!
Take care of your spirit.
Time with God.
If we are not spending time with God, one-on-one, in prayer, then we are missing out on the greatest privilege we have as believers - an ongoing personal relationship with our Creator. It doesn't have to be the first thing we do in the morning, but making time for it as soon as possible in your day is a good plan.
Time in the Bible.
The Bible is God's living Word, his written revelation to us about him, the world he created, and the world to come. We can spend time in it through meditation (taking a small portion and thinking about it over and over, the way one might look at a famous painting in a gallery from many different angles) and through deliberate study.
Time with other believers.
If we are followers of Jesus, then we are part of his body, the church. Not the church on the corner, or a certain denomination, but the Church that includes all believers from all corners of the world and all generations. But we are not meant to live the Christian life in isolation. We need each other, to spur one another one, to encourage one another, to hold each other accountable. I have benefited so much lately from being in a weekly book study with other Christian women, learning from what other believers have written about the Word of God, and learning from and praying with one another.