Self-Care is a Survival Skill

September 13, 2017

Self-Care is a survival skill.

I know what you’re thinking.

“No it’s not. Being able to swim is a survival skill. Fire building is a survival skill. Creating a waterproof shelter is a survival skill. Giving yourself a foot rub is not a survival skill.”

Listen, I get it.

I know how to swim. I know how to build a fire, although to be honest, I’d need matches to make it grow. And while I don’t exactly know how to build a waterproof shelter, I’d be more than willing to try.

All of these things would be helpful in a post-apocalyptic scenario that had me stranded in the new urban wilderness or perhaps if I was a cast member on the TV show Lost.

These skills are incredibly useful to have in my back pocket in case I need them, but what I am getting at is that we don’t live in a dramatic survival cine-scape. What I need are tools that help me survive the day-to-day stresses my own particular jungle…being a mom.

I know this because being a mom is an everyday adventure that is one part American Ninja Warrior obstacle course, one part episode of Daniel Tiger, and one part Real World.  Which, ironically, is not that real.

I need to be on top of my game to keep up with my 2 kids and the work I love to do. Self-care is part of my momlife cross-training.

There are some things that I do which I consider to be my daily self-care vitamins. I do these without exception. I do them because they are my baseline of necessary Naomi well-being.

There are other things I do that bring me joy and connect me back to who I am but they aren’t my self-care vitamins. Instead, they’re more like self-care booster shots. Not like the vaccines you screamed and cried your way through as a kid. The superfood boosters you can add to smoothies at fancy smoothie bars. These practices are my self-care superboosters. I add them in whenever I need a break from the monotony of work or life or to temporarily take my mind off of the fact that neither of my kids sleep through the night yet and I haven’t had more than a handful of decent nights of sleep in nearly 5 years.

This is why, when I say “self-care is a survival skill”, I mean it genuinely. I want to make it through these early years of motherhood with my sanity intact, sleep or no sleep. In the same way I want my kids to be happy and healthy and satisfied, I want to be happy and healthy and satisfied.

I don’t want to suddenly send my kids off to college and not know who I am other than “mom.”

I want to know who I am, what I love to do, what brings me joy, what soothes my stress, what ignites my passion, and what makes me strong.

I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I think that’s a totally legit desire. I think it’s a totally realistic goal.

Listen, I know how privileged this might sound. I know there are moms out there who are working 3 jobs just to make rent and have food on the table for their kids.

I know there are moms out there who have very sick kids who feel they need to spend every single second of their time with their child because they don’t know what the future will hold.

I know there are moms out there who are in dangerous and abusive relationships, who are simply trying to get through another day without dying and keeping their kids as protected as possible.

I know there are moms out there who have just survived massive natural disasters and have lost their homes, their memories, and their sense of security.

I get how the idea of self-care seems frivolous in the face of this.

Except it’s not.

How you value yourself shows up in how you treat and take care of yourself. Which in turn effects how you treat and take care of others.

Self-care is what you use to build and rebuild the foundation of your sanity, your health, your joy, and your sense of personal worth.

In times of crisis, I have relied on my vitamin self-care to keep me tethered to whatever shreds of hope I had left.

In moments of stress, I have relied on my self-care boosters to pull me back from the brink.

Many of my self-care practices remind me what matters the most – not just to my own health and happiness, but what I wish for my kids.

Here’s an example: If I believe that reading to my kids every night is an essential part of caring for them, why don’t I make time to read to myself?

Self-care is still significant in times of crisis because we use these essential practices to rebuild ourselves.

It’s too easy of an excuse to say, “the country is in political crisis, self-care is irrelevant.”

It’s too easy to say, “Hurricane Irma just ravaged the Caribbean. Self-care is unimportant by comparison.

It’s too easy to say, “The future is uncertain and a little scary. Self-care won’t fix these problems we face.

Consider this.

If you are too depleted to take care of yourself, how could you possibly expect to take on these other issues successfully?

I want to work on these problems. I want to be a part of the change that makes this world a better and more beautiful and less terrifying place.

Here’s what I’m interested in first, though.

I am interested in surviving motherhood with my soul intact.

I am interested in showing my kids what healthy adulthood looks like.

I am interested in taking care of myself in ways that make me feel valued and important.

I am interested in proving that motherhood and martyrdom are not synonymous.

I am interested in enjoying my life, not just making it through by the skin of my teeth.

What are you interested in?

How do you want your life to unfold?

Because you get to decide. Motherhood doesn’t have to run over you like the bus in Speed. You can learn how to be your own advocate for self-care. You can choose to be the guide leading the way in your own life, instead of following the trail of cookie crumbs left by your kids.

If you want to learn how, here’s where to start.

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