Time for YOU ~ It Matters!
A long time ago I heard that Oprah always schedules to have her annual physical on her birthday. She said it was a gift she gives herself. As someone who mostly hates going to the doctor almost as much as I dislike going to the dentist, it’s taken me a while to see the wisdom in Oprah’s way. And as a mom who used to believe that “good moms sacrifice all for her kids,” if I did happen to have a few hours to myself the last thing I wanted to do with that precious time was go see my doctor.
But something clicked with me about six or seven years ago and I started to see the wisdom in choosing to make time to take care of myself. After years of being a student of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and seeing Habit #7 ~ Sharpening the Saw ~ only as a nice suggestion, I realized that taking care of myself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally/socially was much more important than I ever thought possible.
As I’ve taught the “Seven Habits” to adults and teens for more than a decade, I’ve found that most people are usually good in one or two of Covey’s four “sharpening the saw” dimensions. But it’s really when you work on and cultivate all four areas that you become more whole as a human being. That wholeness can make a real difference as you navigate this journey with your son.
PHYSICAL: Your physical well-being is essential to your over-all ability to handle everything your son might throw at you. Lack of sleep usually leads me to be more defensive and angry ~ which isn’t too helpful in already unpredictable situations. Some regular exercise not only makes my back feel better, it also helps to clear my head. Good, nutritious eating helps me to feel better about myself which usually means I have more confidence in myself, even in stressful situations.
How does your physical well-being affect your parenting?
SOCIAL: This is usually an area that people love or hate. However, even for moms who love to be with people, when your teenager starts behaving erratically it’s so easy to want to just go through the motions of interacting with others. But it’s when you most want to hide that you actually need to feel connected. Isolating yourself doesn’t help, even though it can feel protective. This doesn’t mean you have to tell the whole world what’s going on with your son but reaching out and spending time with others ~ or serving others ~ reminds you you’re not alone and you’re not alone in your problems.
How does your social well-being affect your parenting?
SPIRITUAL: Your spiritual well-being is a vital part of your over-all ability to parent the way you want to. Whether you believe in a Higher Power or not, knowing your value system and taking time daily to be still and evaluate how your own actions and behaviors match up to the way you have committed to live, is a powerful exercise. Making time for scripture, prayer, nature, or great music can open up the way for inspiration. These practices also help you feel centered, which is a good place to be when your son throws you curve ball after curve ball.
How does your spiritual well-being affect your parenting?
MENTAL/EMOTIONAL: Although it may seem like it, your mental/emotional well-being is NOT dependent on your circumstances. However, if you’re not proactive in this area it’s so easy to get sucked into the abyss of heartache and hopelessness. With a little structure, though, it’s just as easy to avoid that dark hole by spending some time each day learning something new, writing, or even visualizing and creating a plan for your life. Beware of falling into the trap of believing that your mental/emotional self can only be in order when your son starts behaving differently. It’s not true and it will only leave you feeling powerless.
How does your mental/emotional well-being affect your parenting?
All moms ~ but especially moms that are in a constant, sometimes terrifying, struggle with their teens ~ need to make time to take care of themselves. YOU need to start filling your own bucket and stop waiting until “everything is OK” before you start considering your own needs.
Remember this ~ it’s almost impossible to feel connected to anyone, especially your son, when you’re not even connected to yourself. It’s also hard to receive inspiration in your particular situation when you’re mostly upset and irritated. And forget feeling peace when you’re exhausted; it just doesn’t happen.
September is my birthday month so we’re going to take Oprah’s idea but expand it and make September our time as mommas-of-teenage-boys-that-drive-us-crazy to check in with ourselves and see just how full or empty our own bucket is. Each Monday this month I will send you some suggestions of how you can sharpen your own saw physically, socially, spiritually, and mentally/emotionally. As you start taking better care of yourself you will see it is easier to find the peace you desire.
CHALLENGE: This week make a list of TWELVE things you like about yourself. They can be very small things or big things. It’s so easy to concentrate on the things about yourself that you wish were different, so before we start working on the various dimensions of “sharpening your saw” I encourage you to take some time to discover TWELVE things you appreciate about yourself.