This has been one exhausting and crazy year!! In addition to the COVID restrictions, I’ve also been up to my eyeballs in advocating for my child. It’s been a year of trying to get an autism assessment (going the private route when publicly funded assessments came to a halt), fighting advocating for the school board to provide the supports my child needs (and deserves), all while running a consulting business.
To say I’m tired and overwhelmed would be an understatement. I’ve been on this rollercoaster for so long, and I didn’t know how to stop.
Until I was told, I needed to stop.
I recently spent half a day with my business coaches from LeapZone Strategies. Working on my business strategy was the easy part. Having to dig in and see what I need as a mom, wife, business owner, advocate, and all the other hats I wear, was a bit harder.
After some discussion and reflection, it was clear I spend a lot of energy helping and advocating for others and little energy advocating for my needs.
Now here’s the tricky part to the usual self-care advice — meet a friend for coffee, go for drinks after work or join a yoga class — these are all hard to do during COVID. Heck, even if we all weren’t doing a social distancing dance, my family responsibilities don’t make it easy to take a break.
Thankfully, my coach Margarita wasn’t going to let me off so easily. She pushed back — asking me what activities are realistic.
Well, the dogs need to get walked daily. We are fortunate to live on a beautiful country road and back on to an 88-acre forest, complete with a series of hiking trails. On most days, I can manage to take the dogs on a walk or hike with my husband.
Then there’s the beloved Kindle that I read from every night while I wait for my child to fall asleep and again before I go to bed.
Margarita encouraged me to take a different approach to my time — expanding upon the small opportunities I already enjoy.
Knowing that getting out of the house and meeting a friend can be an impossible task, she recommended putting a movie on for the kids in the afternoon, then going to another room, and curling up with a book. This way, I don’t have the mom guilt (or added work) of leaving the house, but rather can carve out my own time while the kids are enjoying a movie (ideally without fighting).
She also suggested walking the dogs by myself a couple of times a week, so I don’t have to talk to anyone and can enjoy some alone time.
Although these seem like simple suggestions, it can be hard to find the pause button when you're on the treadmill of life.
The biggest lesson I was reminded of during my conversation with Margarita is the importance of letting go of the guilt. As a mom, I tend to feel guilty when I’m sitting doing nothing.
No one is putting the guilt on me. Rather, it’s something I wear of my own doing.
By releasing the guilt and carving out time for myself, I’m also teaching my family a valuable lesson — it’s okay to unwind. I don’t need to be the superhero mom who juggles 20 balls at once. I can put down the balls for a few hours, enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a book without the world falling apart.
As I begin to permit myself to carve out some me-time, I already see some shifts. I have a bit more patience with my kids. I’ve also normalized the time I take for myself.
While I haven’t yet worked up to spending a night alone in a B&B (so I can get a solid night’s sleep and really unwind), it’s on my wish list.
Until then, I will keep reading my romance novels and drinking hot coffee while Disney movies play in the background.
This article has also appeared as a blog on www.learnpatientadvocacy.com