As a parent of three kids (ages 4, 9, and 12), I love the opportunities of summer: hanging out, playing board games, exploring new places, and doing whatever the heck we want. But I’ve got to be honest with you; it’s a fat ton of work. When you add in the fact that summer is my busy work season thanks to teaching swimming lessons, and I relish the idea of back-to-school as a time to tune into some self-care outlets that have been pushed aside the last few months.
- Exercise as its own reward- I’ve been blogging a lot recently about my running goals over the next year. While I’m focused on my path to achieve them, I also know that I exercise because it makes me feel good….NOW. The New York Times recently published an article linking the way people viewed exercise with their compliance to sticking with an exercise program. In short, the more people felt they HAD to exercise, the less they actually did. The people most compliant with a long-term exercise program were those who were most focused on exercise as a strategy for feeling good in the short term. So while it’s great to have a goal, I’m going to enjoy the journey.
- Eat lunch every day– I have a bad habit of forgetting to eat lunch. Or I eat snacks here and there, but they don’t always add up to the most nutritious combination of foods. For me, taking care of myself by eating a high-quality lunch every day– even if it’s a hodgepodge of foods– will help me from getting “hangry” once kids are home from school.
- Fire up the sewing machine– It’s been a while since I’ve sewn on a daily basis. I miss the creativity and satisfaction of productivity that I feel when I sew. Taking the time to indulge my sewing interests works parts of my brain that don’t get worked in my family or business life. More brain work = happier, healthier, more whole me.
- Connect to Build Community– I often spend part of the first day of school making a list of people I see regularly but don’t often get to talk to. You know the type– the parent friends who I see every day at drop-off but we don’t do more than exchange pleasantries. These are the people I want to approach and offer to go for a walk after drop-off or meet up with over coffee 30 minutes before pick up. By nurturing these friendships, I can help build my sense of community.
- Say NO!– This school year, I am room parent for two of my three kids and soccer team manager for two of my three kids. I also volunteer teach eight hours a week at the elementary school. I enjoy each of these roles, but I recognize that I am fully doing my part to support my kids’ educations. Any further requests for volunteering shall be met with a polite, “Not at this time; thanks for asking!”
How can you take care of yourself this school year? I encourage you to make a list of your own self-care strategies. Writing them down is useful not only because you are forced to really think about how these issues affect your life, but also as a record of accountability to yourself. By intentionally bringing balance into your life, wellness will follow.
Wishing you and yours a creative, active, stimulating, and healthy new school year!