The concept of “self-care” is relatively new. It used to be that “care” meant “taking care of,” and “caretaker” was a person whose job was to take care of someone else. The distinction has blurred, and today many people use the words interchangeably.
Self-care is fashionable, and those of us who are moms are easy targets. It’s cute, and it’s what everyone is doing. But what does it mean? Can you really take care of yourself? (Or is taking care of yourself taking care of everyone else?)
A self caregiver is one who does, in fact, take care of herself. The person who takes care of herself first, and takes care of everyone else in consequence, is not usually thought of as a caregiver.
Taking care of yourself first means different things to different people. Some women, for example, like to pamper themselves. They enjoy manicures and pedicures, and massages, and facials, and anything that involves being pampered. Others like to take long walks, or spend time in nature, or do something active. Some like to read, others to knit. All these things can be self-care.
So, how do you survive?
You take care of yourself. You eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. You drink enough water, and you schedule breaks so you don’t burn out. You give yourself permission to not always be perfect, and you take time for yourself. You take care of yourself because if you don’t, you’re no good to your child.
Taking care of yourself becomes even more important, and more challenging, as your children get older. When baby meets toddler, the baby’s needs become more complex, and the parent has to figure out how to balance the needs of the baby and the needs of the toddler. And the parent has to figure out how to do that without getting overwhelmed.
Devoting time to yourself every day reinforces who you are. You’re not just a caretaker; you’re also a person. And people who honor themselves are people who honor others.