As a member of the BlogHer Life Well Lived panel, from time to time, my blog is selected to answer that week’s question. This time, I was asked, “How do you put yourself first? How does taking time for yourself help make you happier?” A question many of us struggle to find the answer to in our own lives.
There was a time when I didn’t make time for myself. A dark, ugly period of my life when I submitted myself to motherhood martyrdom and put my needs on the back burner always. It made me miserable, which spilled over into my relationships with my husband and my children. I had a very rude awakening as to why I really needed to put myself first sometimes–and thankfully, our relationships are much stronger now for it.
It started with running. A simple commitment to the Couch to 5K program. Three times a week for about forty minutes at a time, I made it work. Sometimes, it meant that the kids made a mess of the room while I knocked out the miles on my mom’s treadmill. Other times, I ran in solitude on quiet country roads, grateful for the few moments of serenity in my life as a stay-at-home mom to a nearly-3-year-old and almost-1-year-old. Rain or shine, hot or cold, I carved out that little bit of time for myself–and found that the little adjustment made all the difference in the world.
When I returned to school, finding time to get my homework done was difficult enough, but every Sunday, I’d hide out at the local Panera, feet up in front of the toasty fire, mug in hand, stack of books on the table. It was a different kind of time for myself, but I still appreciated it. Even the classes themselves were a sort of reprieve, allowing me to use my brain and talk with adults. I loved it!
Last year when I injured my back, however, making time for myself became a monstrous task. I became utterly dependent on everyone else for their assistance, unable to lift even 10 lbs for more than three months or even walk normally. And when what was supposed to be a temporary nerve issue continued long past the anticipated timeline, I kissed running goodbye–and a little bit of my sanity with it. I needed to find a new way to make time for myself.
That’s part of where this blog came in. Confined to my home, I found solace in the kitchen. While the kids whirled through the home leaving a terrorized landscape in their wake, I focused on myself for short periods of time, baking up my own storm and writing about the results. I exercised my brain when my body wouldn’t cooperate and shared with a world that I was being kept from. It saved me.
Now that I’m back to working full time, I’m finding new ways to make time for myself. My husband and I take turns going out, so we don’t spend a small fortune on childcare. I go to our friends’ band gigs and photograph them when I’m in the mood, nurturing my creative side–or drink and dance, when the wild side needs that instead. My husband has learned to give me my space when I need it, understanding that I am at my best when I have the opportunity to do my own thing, too. It’s not always easy balancing it all–especially in the winter when we both work two jobs–but it’s worth the effort. I’d go out of my mind otherwise.
How do you put yourself first? Join in the conversation on BlogHer on how you are happier by making time for yourself. I’d love to see how you are at your best! And don’t forget to enter BlogHer’s Life Well Lived Sweepstakes; it only takes a moment and could make you very happy!