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Posts Tagged ‘nurturing oneself’

…submitted by Guest Contributor: Dawn H.

A few weeks before I was preparing to leave town for my annual five-day women’s retreat, my eight-year old daughter told me, “Every mother should have a week-long retreat for each child they have.” Since I am parenting only one child, I deserve only one a year, she told me, but our friends who have four children, that Mom deserves four retreats! Now it was a fun conversation, and I liked her viewpoint, although sometimes, my daughter takes as much energy to parent as a large family! 😉

Tif and Kelly helping each other in one of our creative arts projects - mask-making!

Tif and Kelly helping each other in one of our creative arts projects - mask-making!

I began taking a retreat from my family when my daughter was five years old. I really struggled with the guilt as well as the worry that she would be sad and unhappy during my absence. She had/has a great, close relationship with her Dad, and I knew he’d do fine being the single parent. They went on a vacation together while I was at my retreat, and after she got over being very sad and crying herself to sleep the first night, my husband told me the rest of the week was great for them. It worked best for me not to call them, and I was able to just focus on being present in my new surroundings and activities. I came back from my retreat refreshed, invigorated and in a new frame of mind. It had been a wonderful combination of kundalini yoga, creative art projects, and personal growth work offered by Allyson Rice (The Total Human). I’ve now made it a personal commitment to do at least one of these retreats a year. I also have added in some solo traveling with girlfriends (also sans children) each year in order to balance my needs with the demands of being a mother. At times my daughter still gives me grief about leaving, but I just remind myself that I’m doing the best I can as a mother to set an example that it is okay to nurture myself in order to help nurture others. She may not realize it now, but someday she might be a mother and need similar retreats.

Tif with her mask

Tif with her mask

Now, I also realize that not everyone can afford the time or money to go away each year, but there are so many little things we can do as women (and mothers) to nurture ourselves. I do my best to carve out some time each week (a high expectation) or once a month (more realistic goal for me) to do something just for fun, just for myself…what ever works!

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O2Mask…submitted by guest contributor: Dawn H.

I was amazed at how demanding having a child was. I was also amazed at how I felt like I never got anything done! I had been married ten years prior to having my daughter. I was used to getting free time and completing my daily “to do” list most days. When my daughter was born, I joked to friends that she was my “new boss”.  Little did I know how demanding she would be, wanting to be held most of the time, along with nursing often and only happy if I held her. Shortly after I became a new mother, I had a health care practitioner recommend making it a priority to do something for myself at least once a week. I was surprised to hear this – especially since it came from a male. I guess I was overloaded with my body showing adrenal fatigue. I needed some rest and fun in my life. It was sort of like the announcement that the airlines warn you about “in case of loss of oxygen, please secure your mask first, then help others”.  How could I continue to care for my young child (especially when my husband traveled for overnight business often) if I wasn’t balanced myself? I realized I had not done much for myself in those first six months of being a mother.

I tried my best to figure out little ways that I could nurture myself. I started out slow like choosing an activity once a month that I enjoyed. I’d plan a creative outlet with a girlfriend and let my husband care for our daughter. At that time, my main passion was scrapbooking. I could enjoy and relax by getting photos into an album for others to enjoy. I realized after awhile that it was an activity that was still goal-oriented. I was supposed to be doing things for fun, right? If I was worried about finishing something, was that the most fun I could allow myself?Coloring
It’s taken me several years to get past this compulsion. I have managed to try a few new things with less pressure – things like playing in a monthly Bunco group, or doing some sort of art project. I rediscovered coloring books – yes, adults can color – it’s not just for kids! A friend shared with me woman’s coloring books with detailed designs that are just fun to color – a little or a lot at once. No deadlines, no pressure, just creative fun. I’m always looking for more ideas of simple, easy-to-do activities and ways to help nurture myself, so please share things that work for you!

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