By Lisa J. Vogt
You’re thinking, what? Did she just suggest that I should be selfish? Mom’s aren’t allowed to do things for themselves. This is where you’re wrong and I’ll tell you why. When you feel rested, emotionally centered and beautiful, you shine brighter than any star. And that glow lights the way for your entire family. Therefore, your selfishness really is for the good of your family. See how I turned it around to minimize your guilt? It’s a mom thing.
In my experience, when I’m stressed out and at my breaking point, all I need to flip my attitude from worlds-end to sunshine and butterflies is an act of personal kindness. I don’t need an exotic cruise or hour-long massage, though that would be nice. In a crisis, you’d be surprised how simple pleasures can power a shift in perspective.
It’s different for each of us. What works for me may not work for you. The trick is to dig deep, but keep it simple. Don’t over complicate your needs. Identify what makes you happy. What makes you feel special and pampered?
Here are a few ideas that work for me. Maybe they’ll work for you too.
1 Take it Outside
Amazingly, a short 20-minute walk makes a huge difference in my mood. Outside, I can’t help but take in the vastness of the sky. I admire the way the sunlight filters through the trees. I hear the hawks calling to each other. I feel the breeze on my cheeks and enjoy the steady rhythm of my legs moving me forward. With so many beautiful distractions it’s hard to hold onto troubles. I begin to feel small. My problems seem trivial. Once you’re there, your mind clears and there’s suddenly room for constructive problem solving.
The great thing about this exercise is you can do it anywhere at any time. If you’re at work, walk around the grassy perimeter of the parking lot. Watch the squirrels bounce from tree to tree. If it’s raining, go anyway. Just take an umbrella. Unless you’re the Wicked Witch of the West, you won’t melt. And if you are behaving like her, you really need this. Walk at night. Star gaze. Listen for the nocturnal wildlife to begin their day.
For this to work, you must leave your cell phone behind. Seriously. Remember this is your time. Be selfish. The world will revolve without you. It takes the full 20-minutes to relieve your mind of worry and rebuild the strength to handle things logically, instead of emotionally.
I’ve tried to take my phone, promising myself it will stay in my pocket. I have not been successful yet. Something always comes up. A text, an email, an idea to research, all of which could have waited.
Best of all, if you really commit and leave your phone behind, halfway through your walk you won’t care that you even have one. What a relief it is to be free from the silver thread for a few minutes. You’ll love it!
It’s okay to take a friend or dog along, provided having their company makes you happy. And they’re willing to abide by the no cell phone rule. It’s only 20 minutes.
2 Buy Yourself a Lavish Gift for No Reason
My kids come first. I love shopping with my girls, and helping them select clothes or jewelry they’ll enjoy. But it’s rare that I purchase something for myself.
One day, I was feeling overwhelmed by my long to-do list. I decided a break from my routine would put tasks back into a manageable perspective. I went to the mall by myself to shop for myself. Wow, I thought as I walked around the stores, I’m so light on my feet. The only person I have to please, is me. I feel a pang of guilt just writing that. I bought myself silver, hoop earrings. They weren’t expensive, but every time I wear them that special, light on my feet sensation returns.
Lavish, doesn’t have to mean expensive. Buy yourself something that gives you the feeling of being pampered and treated special. It might be flavored coffee from a quaint café, when you usually drink regular at home. It could be fresh flowers for your bathroom, where only you enjoy them. Maybe it’s a leisurely trip to the book store and a new book. Get creative with your ideas. Try new and different gifts each time to keep it exciting.
3 Be a Rebel
Moms are queens of compromise and expert mediators. We want everyone to be happy and get along. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a gory, horror movie peeking out from behind a pillow, because it brought the entire family together for two hours.
I’m don’t care to watch TV shows. I do like movies though. Romantic comedies, thrillers with unexpected twists, and nature shows interest me. I’m rarely in control of the TV remote, so when I am it’s a real treat. For me, watching a funny chick flick or a show on whales, uninterrupted is heaven. The light-hearted stories are relaxing and uplifting.
Sometimes, when I need a lift, I behave selfishly and watch a sappy Lifetime movie on the family room TV. On these nights, I lounge comfortably on the sofa while everyone else cleans the kitchen and washes the dinner dishes.
Where do you compromise? Is there something that’s important to you, but you never voice your opinion for the sake of family peace?
Be selfish. Speak up. You have the right, and obligation as a mother, to ensure your emotional well-being is healthy. We’re the most influential example our kids have, when we’re happy they flourish.
Now a confession. I’m not all that brave. I like family harmony as much as any mom. I mostly get my Lifetime fix when my husband’s out of town. Just like I expect him to get his MMA fighting fix while he’s on the road.
4 Eat Something Devilishly Decadent
Hot, crispy French fries dipped in an ice cold, thick and creamy chocolate milkshake. I know how to party! If this doesn’t make you feel alive, there’s no hope.
I also love a fresh Fuji apple with chicken salad, a toasted bagel with flavored cream cheese, or a hot fudge Sunday. Your food choice doesn’t have to be unhealthy to be devilish. But it should be something special, a real treat you’re excited to eat.
5 Spread the Love
Happiness is contagious. Don’t wait until you’re ready to snap to pamper yourself. I’m actively making being selfish part of my life. I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be often, nor does it have to be an earth-shaking event. Often the simpler treats are enough to recharge my batteries. When I feel good about myself I have the strength of mind and stamina to create a nurturing, positive environment for my family.
Small acts of kindness bestowed on yourself keep your glowing spirit shinning bright.
What small gift would make your day?
What’s your devil’s food?