Taking Care of the Caretaker

I read of all the struggles we are enduring and what we are doing to help our kids but I don't hear enough about what we are doing to help ourselves.

I know that I came very close to a nervous breakdown a few year back, and it isn't just the FAE child in our home who has been prescribed antidepressants. I know that I wasn't paying any attention to my needs. I was so busy being advocate, probation officer, lawyer, social worker, and f__ b__ (my daughter's sentiments) that there just wasn't any time left for me. Then I got to the point that I was raging as well. I had lost all focus and was unaware of how difficult life was within our family and the toll it was taking on all of us.

I have since had other parents come to me for advice and support. My #1 message is "Take care of yourself." If you don't take care of you, you will be less able to help your kids.

So for 50 WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF I would offer:

1. Take some part of every day for yourself, even if it's just 5 minutes.

2. Exercise regularly. It is a great stress reducer.

3. Go for a walk. Study the leaves, the trees, birds, flowers, snowflakes, the world around you, but try to leave your problems at home.

4. Take up Yoga.

5. Learn to breathe. I'm talking about the deep, slow, relaxing, restorative breath that releases stress.

6. Read a book (a mystery, a romance... not a manual on FAS)

7. Go out for dinner with your husband.

8. Listen to music.

9. Curl up in front of a crackling fire.

10. Meet a friend for coffee or lunch.

11. Get a massage.

12. Soak in a warm tub with 4-5 cups of Epsom salts.

13. Listen to a relaxation tape before bedtime.

14. Cut out coffee.

15. Make a list of all the ways in which you are a good mother.

16. Join a support group.

17. Go for a bike ride in the country.

18. Sing to your granddaughter. (Failing that the shower will do)

19. Write a poem.

20. Go cross-country skiing.

21. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

22. Get your hair done (in my case this means cover the grey).

23. Play with your dog, pat your cat.

24. Take up a new sport- kayaking, snowboarding, roller blading, dog agility!

25. Focus on the positives.

26. Get a good night's sleep.

27. Make yourself a monkey milkshake.

28. Take vitamins. (stress eats up B's and C's)

29. Plunge into a pool and swim lengths.

30. Eat breakfast.

31. Treat yourself to a cookie.

32. Get tickets for a play or musical group. Go.

33. Take a holiday without the kids.

34. Monitor your self-talk. Keep it positive.

35. Escape to the cabin by yourself.

36. Have "Girls night out."

37. Lose yourself in a hobby.

38. Rent a good video and make popcorn.

39. Dig in the garden.

40. Entertain but make it a potluck!

41. Hire a cleaning lady - even if it's just once a year to help with the spring cleaning.

42. Enjoy a cup of flavored tea.

43. Call a friend.

44. Learn to say "No" when your own plate is full (I'm not talking about eating here).

45. Run a triathlon.

46. Remember your hormones.

47. Sleep in.

48. Stretch.

49. Laugh more.

50. Count your blessings.

-- by Mary Horner November 1, 2000

For a printable version, click here.
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