How to Thrive When Self Care Isn’t an Option
Self-care: one of the most commonly used expressions and a catch-all panacea for mums in today’s online world. When we hear the words we fantasize about long baths, meditative book reading sessions, face masks and spa visits. Honestly, though, how many of us are available, capable, or financially flush enough to carry these out on the regular?
I’m guilty of it myself. I use the hashtag when posting about mental health. I love the idea of self-care, it’s just the actual doing of it that’s tricky. With three children, a job and a partner (plus a puppy on the way) my self-care-time is shrinking rather than growing. So how do we take care of ourselves and also be part of a community with those clear and real limitations?
Now jump to 1994. I’m 20, single and living alone in a tiny, tiny apartment in the inner city. I like to go to local bars with friends and more often than not walk home very late at night. It was a no-brainer that the streets I was walking late at night were not the safest and I had the good intuition to begin some self-defence training. You can read more here about how that turned out – it’s a story for another day. However, the up-side is that it led me to study martial arts in my twenties for about 5 years.
Then twenty years go by. I experience abusive relationships. I have a child, then did the single-parenting thing for 7 years (I say that like it’s no big deal, but it was). I study. I meet my husband and we have two more children. We end up here, back in Sydney living on the Northern Beaches (pretty lucky eh) and I find myself to be time-poor and exhausted. In a loving relationship, with three beautiful kids, but still withering away inside because I just can’t find any time for myself.
Add to that most days I’m on my own with the kids because the husband is working and I don’t really have any friends here yet.
This is when I realise that my self worth and my ability to take care of myself are crucial. Not just for the wellbeing of the family members I care for, but for my own survival. Taking it one step further, to allow me to thrive (not just survive).
And then it started. With the support of my teenage son (babysitting), and my husband (making dinner) I was able to head off to the ‘Dojang’ (Korean for club or gym) and start training Hapkido again. I put on the uniform, wrapped the belt around my waist, and really committed.