Join the club!
Recently, I’ve been talking with women about where they rank in their own lives. More often than not I’m hearing that they are way down on the list. Making sure her kids get where they need to be, focusing on her career responsibilities, taking care of aging parents, fitting in time with her partner – all these things come before she makes time to care for herself.
Why do women do that?
Because that’s the way we were brought up to think it should be. For centuries, women have been known as the care-givers of society and families. We bear the children; we manage our households; we more often than not are also responsible for taking care of our spouses and our parents as they get older. And today, as for decades, women are also an equal portion of the workforce, as we work to contribute financially to supporting our families and households. And many times, women are the sole supporters – what chance does she have?
So, it’s no surprise that we often find ourselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities we juggle each day. Unless a partner is equally sharing – and I mean 50/50 – with parenting the children, driving them to dance or piano or sports commitments, buying the groceries, doing laundry, cleaning the house and the like, then he doesn’t have a clue how taxing having a full time job and managing all those things can be for us. And, when there is no partner – well …
If you are a woman in need of making a change in this routine, to reduce the overwhelm, take care of yourself and feel more in control, listen to your instincts and try something new.
What can women do?
We can start by moving ourselves closer to the top of the list. Do you remember what the airline attendants always tell us before take off? “Put your own mask on first then help someone else.” Why? Unless we are taking care of ourselves, we won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Think about that premise. It makes sense!
I’m not saying you have to become “me first” – I’m saying you can chose to do small things for yourself that make you feel cared for. It’s called self-love … or self-care or self-respect. Some of you may be saying that this is impossible given your particular situation and, you may be right – but, before you dig in your heals about that, I have a challenge for you.
My challenge for women
Give this a try for one week. Start by taking ten minutes to write a list of the things you do on a regular basis for other people. Include things like making breakfast each morning, making lunch for the kids, laundry, shopping for groceries, dropping kids off at practice, picking kids up from practice, getting your nails/hair done, making dinner, helping kids with homework, helping your parents do something … what else? You get the idea.
Now, take the next 60 seconds to review your list, count the number of items on it and then count how many activities are there which are intended to take care of YOU. In my example, there are 10 activities in total with only one for you alone. That’s 10% of your activities on your “self-care” list. Now, separate your one item from the rest and start a new column called “Self-care.” If you are at 50% or higher, I’d say you’re doing better than most. But, if you are not satisfied with your standing on your list, take the challenge and see how you feel.
Here’s the challenge: over the next week, double the number of things on your Self-care list – make sure they are things just for you that will make you feel better. Let’s say the first one already there is having your nails/hair done. Now add one more, such as doing yoga for 30 minutes 3 times this week. You’ve just doubled the number of things you do for yourself! Once you’ve accomplished that this week, you can look back and feel better about yourself. YAY! That wasn’t too hard, was it?
Women: Don’t be “me last” any longer
Now, if you want to continue the challenge to move yourself up the list, add one more self-care activity the following week. It might be something as simple as taking 15 minutes at the start of each weekday to meditate, or sit quietly and read positive affirmations that resonate with you and will start your day in a positive frame of mind.
None of these self-care activities need to take a lot of time … can you find 30 minutes three times a week to take a walk? How about 20 minutes to do a mini-facial at home once a week? When was the last time you met your women friends for coffee? Could you find an hour or so to do that once a month? Have you lost touch with an old friend? Would it be hard to find 30 minutes to give her a call to catch up and then schedule a call on a regular basis? Staying in touch with our “sisters” can improve our outlook and raise our self-image enormously.
Women in Transition
An especially difficult time for women to move themselves up on their list is when they are going through life transitions, such as a career change, divorce, empty nest, loss of a loved one, relocation or retirement. These major life events can throw us off our game and we often forget about taking care of ourselves.
The truth is taking care of ourselves is more critical at a time of transition than almost any other time. Listen to your heart and your intuition. If you feel a big change coming or if you are at the bottom of your everyday list of activities, try my challenge. It’s an easy way to take small steps and improve your standing in your own life – from “me last” to a more balanced place. Women: Put your own mask on first!
Make this your day ~~ Explore … Dream … Discover!
Chief Inspiration Officer | SafeHarbor Coaching | For women facing life transitions
If you’d like to read more about the “seasons of transition,” please request my free eBook: Transcending Transitions: 15 Ways to Ease Your Journey
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Stopping in from Women’s Network of Entrepreneurs on LinkedIn. I think women fear the idea that someone will tell them they aren’t enough if they aren’t striving to be super women. The only way they can do it all is to give up what is most important. Fortunately, I also believe the tides are changing and more women are realizing they will be far more effective if they do take care of themselves first.