How housework taught me about finally loving myself.
If you entered into my apartment on any given day in my 20’s you probably would have seen the following.
1) Dishes in the sink.
2) Clothes on my bedroom floor.
3) Piles of papers stacked somewhere.
While I have admired organization gurus and feng shui experts since that time and even added a few of those books to my shelves & attempted to implement said recommendations on several occasions nothing ever really stuck. Inevitably the stress of no clean clothes to wear, no dishes to eat off of, and piles getting knocked over would send me into a weekend cleaning, dishwashing, laundry doing frenzy leaving me proud, but wiped out. Inevitably because it was such an overwhelming ordeal I would be grateful it was done and ignore the laundry for as long as humanly possible, enjoy the clean bathroom and kitchen until it HAD to be cleaned again. I had no system for any of it. I was in reaction mode.
Jump to 2016. I am now a full time stay at home mom to my 1 year old. For some reason in my first year of motherhood I decided to work part time instead of just being at home. As any new mom knows, a baby rocks your world on so many levels. I needed time to adjust to all of it and working gave me some comfort. I even ended up opening my own massage practice for a year. After that year I asked myself what I was doing. I was ready to be a mom full time and leave massage therapy behind.
Learning the job
When I became a full time mom I also became our household manager taking care of all the cleaning, meal planning, and day to day stuff. I had to learn the job from the ground up. Fun. I wanted to feel like I was really contributing to our home as best I could. I wanted to be really good at my new “job” so I did what any modern housewife does, I researched on Pinterest and Youtube.
The countless printables on Pinterest were no help and just made me feel overwhelmed. Youtube offered household binders but I wasn’t really sure where to start. Then a curious trend started showing up on Youtube. Something called a control journal by a system called Flylady. I don’t remember which “watch me clean my house” video it was but after seeing 4 or 5 of them I was inspired that I could learn how to manage my house. It taught me how to declutter the way I had wanted to for ages and do it all without getting overwhelmed or burned out! It was a hallelujah moment. I started right away. ( I have links at the end of the post.)
What surprised me the most about Flylady is how they incorporated self care into the household management process. She talked about how we can’t take care of anyone or anything else in our lives with love if we aren’t starting with ourselves. Her name “Flylady” went from a nickname about fly fishing to the acronym Finally Loving Yourself. As someone who has not had very consistent self care routines and had previously suffered from depression, the phrase “finally loving yourself” really struck a chord. I was hooked!
As an avid reader of self improvement I am well versed in productivity habits, spiritual practices, and decluttering. As a massage therapist I knew the effects of stress on the human body. I have said to my own clients, “Self care is the most important thing you can do for stress. Take time for yourself and you’ll be refreshed and relaxed for all the other areas of your life.” My goal as a massage therapist was to make myself obsolete because my clients would have such wonderful self care habits that they would no longer be in a state of “HELP! I NEED A MASSAGE!” As a new mother however, I needed to hear this reminder.
In the process of learning how to take care of my house I was reminded about self care and life balance skills. It’s an unlikely pairing, I know. It’s REALLY easy to put all our eggs in one basket and let the other 5-20 areas of our life fall to the wayside. Last year I really focused on my daughter and the house. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to because as we all know 2017 went by in a blink. But I learned I need to MAKE time for ALL the things that are important to me. Including me. I have 4 areas that I try to balance: Self, Home, Work, and Others. This is in no particular order but I usually try to schedule self care first just so I don’t forget. Do I do all the things in all the areas that I put on my lists? No. I prioritize between all of them. My main go to for self care is meditation and reading. It centers me and invigorates me. I’ve even started taking the occasional bath even though I’m too tall to fit in the tub. One of my life goals is to have a tub I’ll be able to submerge fully from the neck down. I also drink tea. The act of taking five minutes to get up from what I’m doing or take a break in between does wonders. FlyLady suggest using a timer in everything and taking a break is one of them. Sit with a cup of tea or coffee and read for 15 minutes. But set your timer if you have other things to get done. Set a timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes, and breath. Blow bubbles outside.
Self care is doing something just for you that makes you feel happy and loved by You. Paint your nails. Soak your feet. Take a NAP (a personal favorite). Go outside for a walk. It doesn’t have to cost a thing. Go to an animal shelter and pet kittens. Do something that nourishes you. Just for you.
Where to Start?!
I recommend writing down 10 things you enjoy and put the supplies in a pamper basket. Coloring book and colored pencils anyone? When you have a few minutes grab your basket and have fun. Self care doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as putting on a nice pair of pajamas at 8 o’clock at night, washing your face, brushing your teeth, lighting some candles and watching a movie or reading a book in bed. I recommend the latter at the end of the day so the TV light won’t keep your brain going too late. Maybe listen to your favorite music instead.
My own journey with self care is tied into self love which I will be covering next week. It’s a complicated relationship I’ve had with Me. When depression is a part of it, it always is. It’s still one day at a time but I try to remember to do something for myself everyday. Even if it’s just writing 3 pages by hand to get whatever is in my head out of it so I can move on from whatever cycle I’m spinning. It was comforting to know that I’m not the only one that struggles with self care. When there is so much going on outside ourselves, it’s easy to shift focus. To finish things up I want to share what I’ve learned over the last year.
11 things I learned about self care from the Flylady.
I feel better all day when I get dressed in the morning, brush my hair, and put on my makeup. I’m prepared for whatever comes up during the day and it means I don’t need to run out of the house in my pajamas in case of an emergency.
I feel better about myself when the bed is made. I get something done as soon as I wake up and seeing my bed made without a pile of clothes on it anymore feels SO GOOD! Go Me!
I like baths when I’m stressed. I avoided baths because I’m too tall to fit in the tub all at once. The water and the warmth just melts all the tension and stress away.
I needed to finally love myself. It’s ok to take time for Me and not get stuff done in the house if I’m hurting or mentally scattered. That’s when I know I have been slackin on the self care.
If I’m not looking inward, I can’t see as well. Meditation keeps me really happy. Writing clears my head.
I need alone time to reconnect with Me. To think about my dreams, goals, and plans as well as to just reconnect with myself. Going out to eat by myself is so fun because I get to people watch and imagine their lives. I often get into conversations with strangers at coffee houses and it is such fun!
Ask for help. Talk about what you need with your partner, spouse, or friend if you need help. Our loved ones need to know where you’re coming from if they’re going to help you in any way. This is a tough one for a lot of us. If you have trouble talking to them try writing down what you need to say and read it to them. I did this when I was struggling and when I read it to my husband even MORE came out. It was really cathartic. Better than therapy. Cheaper too.
Self care takes practice but the rehearsal is so fun! Try a little bit a day. 15 minutes or more.
Self care made me realize when I care for myself I am happier for others.
Self care is an important example to set for my daughter. Making sure she is taking care of herself is the most important lesson I can teach her.
Self Care = Self Love. If you’re not taking care of yourself it means you’re not loving yourself.
There are so many ways to show love for yourself and keeping your surroundings beautiful is a great place to start. Marie Kondo is the author of Sparks Joy and she recommends only keeping the things in our home that bring us joy. Do your possessions give you a lift or drag you down? My home isn’t extravagant and there is still a lot of decluttering to happen. I have a daughter, it’s a constant process. But just a couple days ago we had a conversation about toys she no longer needs and would she like to give them to another baby? She made amazing choices and at 3 ½ will have a foundation that we will continue to build on.
If you don’t know where to start I hope this article has been helpful. My aim with this blog is to help you find happiness in your own world in your own way. Taking care of yourself, your home, and your spirit will go a long way in how you interact and take care of others but it HAS to start with you. You may even inspires someone else just by being yourself.
I hope you have a beautiful day.
31 Baby Steps : One of the things I love about flylady was the 1 step at a time approach. Her 31 babysteps are the place to start if you want to give it a try. Each day you will add one new habit to your daily routine. They are EASY! Shine your sink, get dressed to shoes, make your bed and so on. Day 5 is a personal favorite – Time to breath!
Diane in Denmark
My personal favorite flylady is Diane in Denmark, a former flylady mentor. She’s on youtube and feels like my own personal motivational flylady fairy. She has a 31 baby steps series of videos. Great place to start. Here’s that link.