|Copyright © 2015 Mia Redrick|
When I became a mother over 16 years ago, my mother sat me down for an important conversation. She wanted to discuss the importance of self-care and “me-time” in motherhood. My mother was an amazing and nurturing mom to my brother and me, and she never missed a beat helping us personally develop, make important friendship and participate in enriching hobbies. However, my mother did not take care of nurturing herself. She lovingly and dutifully took care of her family, yet she ignored her own life.
When I was six months pregnant with my first son, my mother told me to promise her that I would always “date myself” and make time for my own life independent of motherhood. My mom had gotten lost in the minutia of motherhood and did not want me to repeat this pattern in my life. My mom explained that in order to be a great mom and to sustain that greatness, you must also be good to yourself. I said, “Yes” to my mother’s request without truly knowing what to do for “me time” dates. Sixteen years ago, “me time” wasn’t a buzzword and moms weren’t openly discussing work/life balance. I did not have a blueprint to follow for what to do during my alone time, so I made up my own.
I joined a mothers’ group while I was pregnant and was the only mom who did not yet have a baby. As I met with these mothers each week, they all said the exact same things like, “I don’t have any time for myself,” or, “I feel guilty for taking time alone,” and “My spouse doesn’t really understand or support me when I say I need help.” After listening to these moms, I decided to commit to 90 minutes of alone time each week and create systems for my self-care.
I immediately told my husband what days and times I would consistently practice “me time.” I played with so many scenarios during my 90-minute power outings, including going to the local Barnes & Nobles to read a book, or Panera Bread or Corner Bakery Cafe to have a cup of coffee and salad. I booked tickets to lectures series, wine tastings and cooking classes, and eventually used that time to write my first book, Time for Mom-me: 5 Essential Strategies for A Mother’s Self-care where I outlined the most important steps to begin to honor your own self-care.
The process of self-discovery and building personal relationship with myself while being a mom was paying off because I felt fulfilled as a person. I didn’t feel defined by my work or any role that I played like wife and mother, business owner, volunteer etc., I benefited directly from the experiences I had in each part of my life because I liked my life and myself. It’s been 16 years since I made that commitment to myself. I now have three children and I have dated myself once a week since the beginning.
I often laugh when I listen to stories about how women feel the need to “strike a balance” in their lives, because a major point I’ve gleaned from my alone time is how to learn from my imbalance. It has been the imbalance in my life that has told me what I need to ask for from others, the boundaries I need to set or the type of additional systems that were necessary for me to stay sane. I have a black belt in self-care rituals and most of what I learned came from realizing how I benefited when I did things for myself while also taking care of my children. This is the most efficient way to practice what I call ritualistic self-care.
My commitment to “me time” dates for the last 16 years has taught me to trust the choices I’ve made in my life and to be clear about what is most important. I never saw “me time” opportunities as maintenance moments like getting a pedicure or massage, although I do enjoy those things. Instead, spending that time was more about doing something to enrich my life vs. just maintaining it. Spending time alone has allowed me to understand that imbalance is the greatest gift in my life because its symptoms tell me exactly what I need. For example, when I feel tired, I know that I need to create a routine that allows me to rest more. When I find myself in the car all the time the imbalance tells me that it is time to do less. These moments alone have taught me to treasure and truly listen to the imbalance in my life.
I am so grateful that I have a mom who was compassionate enough to request that I take care of myself instead of telling me to “do it all.” My mother knew firsthand the price of doing it all and the personal toll that this illusion creates for so many mothers who get lost in motherhood. I’ve learned that when you know who you are as a mother because you are in touch with yourself, your children have the opportunity to truly get to know you also. Every time I go to an event, participate in a race and do something that I enjoy, my children benefit directly. They will not grow up not knowing who their mom is as a person.
One of the best ways to enhance any relationship is by dating. Think about your most meaningful relationships with your friends, partners and spouse. Did you date them frequently? Dating yourself does exactly the same thing and when you date yourself, you add value to the relationship that you are a part of.
Today, I host annual Time for Mom-Me Retreats & Experience™ weekends to support moms in building substantive systems in their lives to support both their personal and professional growth. I believe that when women get clear about themselves they choose so much more powerfully in every other area of their lives and for others. You can learn more about my Time for Mom-Me Retreats & Experience™ weekends.
If you are on the fence about what “me time” can do for you I simply want you to take 90 minutes for you for six weeks. Join one of my support groups for free atwww.timeformom-me.com and learn a simple system to commit to taking care of yourself.
And Grandmas (or soon-to-be grandmas)… I implore you to share the importance of “me time” with your daughters and particularly your “new mom” daughters, and help them get clear about taking care of themselves so that they don’t lose themselves in motherhood.
Let’s face it: sometimes our best plans and intentions don’t work and we find ourselves back at square one. It is during these time that we feel like a failure and we want to give up. I remember starting my coaching business over 10 years ago and struggling with identifying my target market and marketing my services. I had a fancy website and no customers coming through the door, and my cash register was not ringing at all. I felt like a failure and that my “dream job” had steered me in the wrong direction. I decided that quitting wasn’t my answer, but instead I needed to start over.
“But where do I start?” I asked myself over and over again. We’ve all had to start over in some area of our lives like our career, marriage, business, education, diet, etc. It is so easy to revel in the disbelief of the disappointment that we forget the power of pursuing what is next on the horizon if we keep moving.
Here are my seven reminders on How to Start Over Without Regret:
1. Leverage your failures.
Instead of quitting when things don’t work out, leverage the learning from your failures. Ask yourself, “What is working or what did work in my situation or circumstance?” Write down even the small things that are your successes.
When things don’t go as planned, we often have the all-or-nothing attitude but instead, I want you to do more of what IS working. In my case, I was great at networking, but I was networking in the wrong locations with younger entrepreneurs and not attracting my ideal clients. What was working for me was networking, but I needed to change venues to network with professional women who could afford my services instead of marketing to women who were in startup businesses.
2. Dump your junk.
Don’t bring your old attitude and expect to create new outcomes. It’s tough not to fault the things, people and reactions that have hurt you or caused you to start over, but if your goal is to start fresh, you can’t do that reading yesterday’s news. Dump your junk and move on and decide that it doesn’t matter why it didn’t work; it only matters that you have decided you deserve more in this new season of your life. Decide to give your new season a fresh start without baggage. (This one takes practice.)
3. Don’t announce that you are starting over. Just do it.
You don’t need to validate your choices to make a change in your life. Just do it. Nike said it best. Move on and everyone around you will soon see the change in your life. Your next steps aren’t about anyone but you being comfortable with your new choices and this new season. No public polls necessary. When we are insecure about our future we often consult others so that we feel better or to prepare them for our shift. This isn’t required or necessary.
4. Recycle what worked.
Don’t discard everything that represents the failed marriage, job/career, etc. Instead, recycle the gifts that these experiences taught you. Even bad experiences start off good. So ask yourself, “What did I love about this experience and what would I never do again?” Use this restart opportunity as motivation to begin again wiser and stronger, and use your bag of tools called “learning lessons” as a result of your experience.
5. Prepare for your weak times.
Plan in advance for those times when you will feel like going back to what did not work for you and create a solution in advance. It might mean that you delete phone numbers to prevent yourself from calling people in your weakest moments. It might mean not buying sweets for the house if you know that stress will make you eat more than your share. Whatever you do, plan for your weakest moments in advance. We all have moments where we vacillate between what is best for us and what is easy for us to have now. Challenge your “now” and replace it with what you want to see in your life long term.
6. Celebrate your baby steps.
Remember to acknowledge all progress toward your new goal. Sometimes, we set milestones that are too far away instead of understanding that the long run is just a bunch of short runs, and that we can and should celebrate along the way. If you sell that business at a loss, celebrate that you are no longer attached to it. If you end a toxic friendship that lacked trust, rejoice that you now have room to create authentic new relationships.
7. Take a new route.
The unknown is scary, but it is also equally scary to do what you know and continue down a dismal path. Give yourself permission to play bigger although you are starting over. So often when we start over we become timid and afraid to swing for the fences because we are so busy recovering from an intimate dance with failure. Understand that success is built on mistakes and lessons learned. You can still have what you want even if you didn’t get what you wanted in the past.
8. Keep moving.
Standing still is the recipe for disaster. I want you to move and try something different to change your view. As you move toward your new vision for your life, you will meet new people, opportunities and experiences waiting for you to play full out. I’m writing this column on The Huffington Post because I attended an event and had the privilege to introduce myself to Arianna Huffington and share my work with her, and as a result, learned about this opportunity. What if I decided to stay home that day and not attend that networking event? You wouldn’t be reading this post.
9. Learn from your haters.
Yes them. What others think of you really isn’t your business so stop replaying that track. The people who study, watch and obsess over you know how powerful you are and that is why they are threatened by you. Instead of asking yourself, “Why do they hate on me?” Ask yourself, “What do they see in me?” It is the answer to this questions that will allow you to elevate this energy and understand that your haters are there to teach you a very important lesson. They see your talent, brilliance and potential sometimes more than you do.
Starting over is inevitable. Share with me how you are planning your new start.
At some point in motherhood, we all get lost and swallowed up by the tasks and responsibilities of being a grownup: breastfeeding around the clock, bottle washing, diaper changes, endless birthday party invites, class parties and extracurricular activities. It’s because we have less time and energy to think about our own lives as we support and affirm the lives of our children.
The truly selfish thing in motherhood is for your children and spouse to never know who you really are, because you don’t know who you are any longer. We create a blueprint of motherhood for our children based on how we show up every day. I’ll never forget walking upstairs and seeing a sign on my daughter’s closed door that said, “Me Time In Progress — Do Not Disturb.” It told me that my daughter had learned the value of pulling away to refuel, relax and renew.
We all get lost in motherhood and at some point, we get it wrong before we get it right, but we can always change if we want to. Your identity is your view of how the world sees you, and it is mostly formed by how you see yourself.
5 Ways To Reclaim Your Identity
Do something consistently for yourself while also doing something for your children. When my children were toddlers, I would do squats every day when I took them to the park swing so that I could hit my daily goal of 100. I literally Google-searched the location of their sports practice location to find something cool for me to do while I waited for them. Other activities included joining a Curve’s gym near my son’s fencing practice so I could complete a 30-minute circuit, and I visited a local tea bar during my daughter’s school play practice, which consistently allowed me time to unwind with a nice relaxing cup of tea. I’ve written chapters for my books while waiting for my children in the carpool line because I decided I had to include my interests and needs in my day. Make it fun.
2. Give up Frumpy
Decide and commit to the fact that frumpy doesn’t serve you. I find that when I look my best, I feel better. Choose three to five great outfits that always make you feel pulled together and confident. It doesn’t take a lot of money to look great. I’m not a huge shopper, so I like a few staple items in my wardrobe that I know will always look great on me even on days where I’m just running around. We choose frumpy as our “comfort food” because we are uncomfortable with our changing bodies and maybe we don’t feel as beautiful as we once did.
3. Do something that you used to love
Just because you haven’t gone to a class you loved in years doesn’t mean that you still don’t know how to paint, write, do yoga,or that you wouldn’t love that speaker series. Take a minute after reading this article and sign up for something that you love. (If you take this action, please share what you signed up for in comments section.)
4. Take 15 minutes a day to reflect — no matter what
It’s difficult to consider yourself when you don’t make time to think about your needs. The reason you meet the needs of your children is because you make time to think about how to make their world great. I challenge you to do exactly the same thing for yourself. Ask yourself, “How can I make my world better?”
5. Validation is for parking lots
The most important validation that you need is your own approval. Women are guilty of wanting everyone in their lives to say, “Now is the perfect time for you to go to the gym, spa, out with a friend, pursue that hobby (fill in the blank).” In reality, your family wants direction from you on what you need to be fulfilled and happy. You are the leader of your life. Are you leading it?
We all get lost and swallowed up by the tasks and responsibilities of being a mom. What action will you take today to inspire the change that you seek? Take an action that will immediately move your life forward and then leave me a message here as to what you selected.