When life feels like one big check list

Do you ever have days when life feels like one big checklist?  Nothing ever comes off the checklist but things are certainly added.

These winter months are rough. I have a sick three year old with the flu who already has respiratory issues (enter anxiety and the checklist becomes even more daunting) and the month of February just sucks.  It’s a rinse and repeat period for me, except you’re also combating sickness and trapped indoors.

This is usually our routine:

  • Get a shower, put on clean clothes from a laundry heap, and spend 2 minutes trying to look decent enough for people to not ask if you’re okay at work
  • Gather stuff together for work you should have gotten together last night but didn’t because you were too tired to finish the checklist
  • Go to work
  • Do you work Try to do you work but you’re distracted 7384 times because this bullet point has about 34093 more items to get done (but for anxiety reasons [see above], I’ll skip this). 😃
  • Pick up the kiddos from school later than you wanted
  • Tame the wild beasts as they come home completely cranky and tired after being angels at school for 8+ hours
  • Feed them, but only after you’ve given them too many snacks that makes them not hungry anymore because it’s the only way they’re not screaming
  • Go through the whole bedtime ritual, which takes approximately two hours
  • Clean up from the carnage, pack lunches, get ready for the next day
  • Collapse on the couch until your husband wakes you up to go to bed

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s a lot of comfort in this routine.  I know what I need to do each day, I can manage and plan my time to make sure these things get done, etc.  I know that at 9:30 (or 8 pm if it’s John’s turn to put C to bed) I will get a break.  There’s not a lot of wiggle room in the schedule left for other things though.

What other things you ask?

This image (and it had no author or else I’d give credit where credit was due…someone posted it on Twitter) caught my attention.  When I think of “self-care” I think of the “treat yoself” adage — take a nap, get a massage, take a mental health day, go to the gym.  All of these are aspects of one’s physical condition, but this was a good reminder that self-care is much more than that.  It’s how you show kindness for others, the choices you make, what takes your attention and what doesn’t, who you go to for support, who you support, etc.  I particularly like this idea of slowing down.  I’m obsessed with the TED Radio Hour podcast, and recently they had an episode of just that — the importance of slowing down.   It’s pretty cool — check it out here if you need a reminder to slow down (don’t we all?!).

Take a look at this other framework for thinking of self-care.  This framework organizes self-care into 8 dimensions (cleverly using the SELFCARE acrostic).  One of the reasons I started this blog was to strengthen my “Emotive” and “Cognitive” dimensions…I just didn’t know it at the time.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about my “Aptitudinal” aspect of self-care — thinking about how I’m contributing to my community and the larger world.  It’s hard with little kids, but I have this desire to do more.  I don’t know that I do a lot of good in the world.  I mean, at my job, yes.  I support teachers so they can live up to their greatest potential in the classroom.  Those teachers then go on to support over 2,500 students.  That’s no joke.  But still — I have this desire to do more.  I also want B and C to be good citizens and humans, and one of the ways I think they learn that is through seeing their parents engaged.  There’s not a lot of engagement happening these days.

I guess I like the image below, too, even if “Do not work overtime” and “Learn to say no” made me literally laugh out loud under the Professional part of the pie.  Some of the suggestions are a little too broad for me — i.e., Learn who you are and figure out what you want in life.

Where are you succeeding with giving yourself some much needed self care?  Where do you have some room for improvement?  Would love to hear!

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