This week’s Take Back You features Gina, a mom of three from Northern Virginia (just outside Washington DC). She’s the mom of identical twin daughters age 12 and a son who’s 14. She’s been been married 24 years and works from home as a blogger and freelance writer/marketer. Her blog is MoneywiseMoms, where she helps busy moms balance the family budget so they can spend on what’s important to them. Welcome, Gina!
- What does self-care mean to you? Self-care means my own well-being–physical, mental and spiritual.
- What are you biggest challenges to self-care? My biggest challenges are like most people’s, I’m sure: time, busy seasons of life, and spending too much on others instead of putting myself first.
- At what point do you feel like you maybe “lost” a little of yourself? I have felt like I lost myself so many times over the years! The worst was during the years when I was on bedrest with my twin pregnancy and then the following chaos with 3 kids under 3. During that time, I was also caring for my father during the last months of his life. Self-care was not a concept to me at all, only caretaking for others.
- How did you recognize the need to “Take Back Me”? After living through those incredibly tough years, I was able to get on a more normal sleep and self-care routine which has only improved as my kids have gotten older. And I have, too! Maturity has brought the realization that I need to come first or I don’t have anything to give to others. I can now catch myself before letting self-care slip away completely. At this point in time, if I see signs of depression or anxiety in me (which I have battled since before I had children), I know to pull back and focus on self-care.
- What were some of the things you implemented and how did your loved ones react to you taking time for self-care? Nowadays, I make appointments on my calendar for self-care to make sure it happens. Some are paid: a yoga class, massage, haircut or therapy appointment. Others are not: walking with a friend, watching a movie while I eat my lunch, blocking out a free afternoon once per week to just do nothing. My husband is supportive because he sees the value in my self-care. My kids don’t normally notice (at this age, it doesn’t bother them if I leave), but I do share what I do and what it does for me so that I am modeling for them. I want them to have coping skills for their stresses as well.
- What tools have helped you (favorite movie, podcast, book, app, etc.)? The tools that help me the most are for scheduling–such as my calendar and having alerts on my phone to remind me to take vitamins and drink water. I do well with accountability, so I’ll use apps like Cozi and ToDoist, and I often tell friends and family what I’m doing so they’ll check back with me.
- What is your favorite thing to do if you have an hour of free time? When I find I have free time, I usually pull out a book and read. I always have a stack ready to go.
- What are your current “Take Back Me” goals? My current goals are to stick to my daily and weekly self-care goals. I actually put this ahead of my tasks for my family, work, etc. It is so easy as a busy mom to say “yes” to too much and get overwhelmed. By putting specifics on my calendar and being firm with myself, I thrive and am able to tackle more for everyone in the long run.
- Do you have any tips for others on this journey (Because it IS a journey, not a destination) – Yes, it’s definitely a journey! I find that the need to Take Back Me fluctuates with seasons of life (such as the age of your kids) and seasons of the year. One task I don’t do enough that I know makes a huge impact is stopping to reflect. I find that whenever I slow down, stop and really think about what I’ve done right that it makes me feel accomplished and motivated to continue. It’s good for momentum! The best would be to do this daily, like writing a few positives down at the end of each day. But even doing it weekly makes a difference; instead of being so busy with the day-to-day, you can look at the bigger picture and see what you’re doing well. It’s just like I do with our family budget. If you stop and assess along the way, you can correct your course before things get out of hand.