As women, we are wired to nurture. Sometimes, however, we spend so much time nurturing those around us—husbands, children, friends, even parents—that we forget to nurture ourselves. This is an especially important practice for homeschooling moms, because we spend all day every day around our children.
My fellow homeschooling mom Theresa says, “I find it curious that one of the homeschool convention seminars I will be attending in a few weeks is about self-nurturing practices. Took me a few years to hone this necessary practice, but I’m mostly there now. Realizing that I’m not an endless supply of energy, organization and happiness, that I need nurturing too, was a useful marker on my road to homeschool happiness.”
So here are some self-nurturing practices for moms from Theresa and I (the first six are hers; the next are mine).
- Drink coffee. I’m sorry that is so cliché. But I’m one of those early morning comatose mothers. I write this coherently at 10:39 am—after a night of tending to my own illness, and aware that my four are hacking in their bedrooms with low grade fevers—I am now finally awake. It only takes one good cup of coffee a day, maybe two, but coffee is required for me (even if it turns into iced coffee before I drink it!).
- Sit in front of a UV light. Where I live in the mountains, cloud cover is a persistent friend of the winter season. We may have year-round phenomenal views, but some days we also have cloud cover so thick I can’t determine the types of trees in my forest front yard. This gets to one’s head. Sitting in front of a UV Day Light for fifteen minutes, an oral dose of Vitamin D and Vitamin B complex assist my brain in finding happy through every season.
- Get outside. Seems counter-intuitive to go outside when one sees that kind of cloud cover, but I’d been told to do that from every native mountain neighbour since we moved here. After I practiced it daily for a while, I understood. Commune with the world around you. Somehow it works. Find reasons to be outside: cross country skiing and hiking do the trick for me in the thick of that overcast.
- Go to the art gallery or art museum. Okay, so I don’t have the Louvre or the Met available to me every weekend, but I do have art books from those places. Discovering the soothing effect of staring at a beautiful piece of art in those actual places energizes me: my unschooled fine arts degree. Every morning, I research a piece of art. My ‘school’ before the kids’ ‘school’. Love.
- Study composers, while I build my Spotify list. Similar to the art books, I have a compendium of musical composers with historical tidbits and pieces that they performed. Love this stuff. Guess who missed out on their fine arts degree? Feeds my soul: good music.
- Meditate with a colouring book. I wouldn’t even believe I’d ever have written that sentence a few years ago. This practice only takes a few minutes. In the end, I’ve focused my mind on thinking the right thoughts, and produced a pretty page. (My version of Monet).
- Call a friend. I love talking to my friends, but I’m terrible at picking up the phone to do so. It’s too easy to let my to-do list interfere with this, to say “I’ll do it later,” or to get frustrated because I know my kids will need something from me as soon as I say “Hi, how are you?” on the phone. Just do it. Set a time every week when you call a friend (and talk to the kids about expectations when you’re on the phone).
- Have a bath. Put the kids to bed (or get your husband to watch them), run the water in the tub, light a few candles, add some bath salts, and grab your book. Play some quiet, relaxing music (especially if you need to drown out the sound of the kids for a bit). Whether you have twenty minutes or an hour to soak in the tub, it can help relax and rejuvenate you.
- Book a pedicure, facial, or massage every two or three months. As moms, we’re on our feet lots, so we should take care of them. Carting around kids and groceries can be hard on your back; a massage can help with that. Facials are great for looking and feeling great. Put it on your wish list for Christmas or your birthday. Watch for coupons or deals at your local spa. Or see if your health insurance will cover at least part of the massage.
- Go on an annual spiritual retreat or to a conference once a year. I love getting away. A couple days out of the house, without the kids, always helps me to refocus on what’s important and to come back to my work with a renewed sense of purpose and joy. I can’t wait to leave the girls—and then I can’t wait to get back to them.
What self-nurturing practices help you find happiness as a mom?