Saturday, January 31, 2015

Taking Care of Me

Since becoming a new mother last June, I've discovered I have been putting myself last on my list. I make sure my daughter is taken care of, my husband is taken care, my students are getting the education they need, etc. However, I find myself either last on the list, or not on the list at all. After several break downs in the wee hours of the morning, much to my husband's bafflement, and a general feeling of being tired ALL the time, I have decided to make taking care of myself one of my New Year's Resolutions. I've set a goal for myself for 2015, to make sure I take care of myself. After all, if you don't take care of yourself, how can you make sure all those you care about are taken care of?

By taking care of myself, I will have more energy to take care of my loved ones and my students. I will be more alert and better able to fulfill my duties as wife, mother, daughter, sister and teacher. I'm tired of feeling tired, foggy and unable to think straight. I know my life is suffering for these things. One thing I am thankful for, I haven't really gotten sick, yet… but I think that has more to do with the fact I'm still taking prenatal vitamins because I'm breastfeeding.

So, how am I going to go about taking better care of myself so I can take better care of those in my life? I've done some research online, talked to friends and other mothers, as well as just sat down and used my "critical thinking skills" to come up with a list of some easy things I can do to make sure I'm taking care of myself.
  1. Go to bed at the same time every night. I put my daughter to bed at 8pm almost every night. My goal, starting tonight, is to get a shower and get in the bed after I've put her down for the night. I know this seems early, but it will allow me to do #2 on my list.
  2. Make time to read each day. I love to read. I used to be an avid reader. Always had a book. Since becoming a mom, I put that aside and concentrated on my daughter, as it should be, but to the detriment of myself. Part of what helps me wind down and prepare myself for sleeping is to read before I go to bed. By getting shower (to help me relax, plus having the benefit of washing away all the allergens you've collected during the day) and getting into bed after putting my daughter to bed at 8pm, I can set aside 1-2 hours to read and wind down. Hopefully, this will allow me to fall asleep faster and sleep better.
  3. Wake up at the same time every morning. This, I will admit, is going to be a hard one for me. I am so not a morning person. Unless I absolutely have to get up early, I usually don't. However, during my research, I've learned that getting up at the same time every morning, in conjunction with going to bed at the same time, helps regulate your circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes. When you regulate your circadian rhythm, you begin to feel better, have more energy, and are able to think more clearly.
  4. Find time to do the things I love to do. Instead of planting myself in front of the tv while my daughter naps, thus making myself feel more sluggish and tired, I will use this time to do the things I love to do. One of my most beloved hobbies is baking. I used to bake all the time, or so my husband tells me, and it's probably true. I find great solace in baking. The very orderliness and exactness of baking helps me to center myself. I find it very relaxing. By using my daughter's nap times to bake, I think I will begin to feel better and have more energy.
  5. Exercise more. As a dance instructor, I do exercise almost every day. Seriously, I teach at least one class 6 days a week. However, I feel it is necessary for me to do a little extra. Part of my problem is I still have pregnancy weight, or, rather, inches, to lose. My daughter is 7 ½ months old, I would like to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes by the time she's one. I'm not even close. By exercising more, I will begin to see positive changes in my body, and get back to my dancer's body. I know this will help me feel better.
There are a few other things I will be implementing over the weeks. Rituals of a sort, to help me feel more in control of my life. Small things I used to do that will help me feel more like myself, as well as new things to bring me closer to my daughter and husband.
  • Drink hot tea. I love herbal teas, especially wild sweet orange and pomegranate & raspberry. Add a little homemade cough syrup to these, and my bronchitis and sinus problems will be well in hand.
  • Read to my daughter daily. One of the things I absolutely love to do is to read to my daughter. I planned from the beginning to do this daily, but sometimes I forget. I need to do better with this. I know how important it is to read to your children, and I want her to love reading as much as I do.
  • Eat at least one meal a day with my husband. This is an important one for me. With my husband and me working opposite schedules, it's hard for us to find time to spend together. By eating at least one meal a day together, at the table, we can spend some quality time together sharing a meal, talking, and catching up with each other.
  • Eat breakfast every day. It is the most important meal of the day. I always make sure my daughter has her breakfast, and I need to eat mine too. Therefore, I will start eating breakfast with my daughter, and hopefully my husband, most every day. And a healthy breakfast, no more doughnuts grabbed on the run out the door. I want to share a good, healthy breakfast with my daughter and husband. I know this won't be possible every day, as two days a week I have to leave extra early because I have an early class, but the rest of the week I can do this.
These are just some of the things I want to do to help me take better care of myself and feel better. What are some of yours?