Make time for yourself. Yes, really.

Self care _Lipstick-Republic

 

Self-care seems to be the phrase du jour right now and rightly so. It’s about time humans started realizing the importance of loving themselves. I know that for me, personally, it’s difficult to fill other people’s cups when my own pitcher is running on empty. Women are taught from a very young age to nurture and care for others – from our toy dolls we bathe and clothe in tiny outfits, to our Easy-Bake ovens with a nod to society’s gender roles surrounding a woman’s place being in the kitchen.

One of the classes I lead centers around the need for Self Love and Self Care. Not surprisingly, many women feel guilty or embarrassed to think they deserve either of these things. They have learned to put themselves last on the ladder and everyone else in their lives above them – husbands, boyfriends, parents, children, even their pets. Often, this turns into resentment, anger, or even sadness. It’s truly a beautiful thing — that moment during the workshop when I see the light in a woman’s eyes change and I know that she finally gets it and understands that she is worthy of love and care. Just as with career professionals needing to take continuing credit classes for their respective fields, it’s imperative that women take time to recalibrate and decompress from Life’s daily grind.

Here are a few simple examples of rituals that aren’t complicated but will touch a part of you that you’ve forgotten to nurture. They will make you reflect on simple joys and they will offer you a glimpse of the beauty that your soul needs to experience regularly in order to thrive. They range from ten minutes to several hours. None of them are exhausting physically or emotionally. ALL OF THEM will show you the importance of creating time for yourself.

  • Sit outside and look at the stars or the clouds and just appreciate the vastness of the Universe and time.
  • Take a different route to work, to the grocery, or somewhere you go regularly. The change of scene is a nice break from your routine.
  • Laydown on the grass, the sand, or the yoga mat and try to connect with the Earth. Close your eyes and imagine roots spreading down through your body below. Let go of all the other stuff above the surface.
  • Get some cuddle time in with your furbaby. Pets are soothing and the touch therapy will be good for you. Focus on the unconditional love your animal has for you. Try to remember to give that same love to yourself.
  • Do you have a garden? If so, go outside and appreciate it, weed it, prune it, cultivate it – whatever. Marvel at its growth and beauty. Sample a succulent fig or find a pretty flower to put in a vase. These are things YOU’VE grown. Be proud of that accomplishment.
  • Take a bubble bath or a linger in a hot shower. Enjoy the water and the time alone. Light some candles, maybe even pour yourself a glass of bubbly. Picture yourself soaking or washing away the everyday stress or issues that are currently bothering you.
  • Draw, color, paint, craft, take some photographs. Use your hands and appreciate that you’re physically able to create. No one expects Picasso or Ansel Adams.  Revel in your own unique abilities.
  • Take a walk outside. Yes, even if it’s just around your block or the neighborhood park. Feel the air outside hit your cheeks or the sun warm your shoulders. Look at the other people you see strolling by. Appreciate the colors and the smells of your neighborhood. Smile at strangers and watch them smile back.
  • Stretch. Even if it’s just before getting out of bed and not necessarily a full yoga or pilates session. Take note of your body’s strength.
  • Breathe in and hold it for a few counts and then exhale. Repeat. Concentrate on your breath and being in the moment. Inhale all the positive in your life and exhale all the negative. Breathing has been scientifically proven to change your brainwaves from betas to alphas.

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Mimi Bergman is a business owner, historian, wife, and mom. She’s an ardent feminist, Zionist, and activist. Mimi is a fourth generation Chicago Cubs baseball fan.

Surviving The Holidays: Single Mom Style

The holidays can be a stressful time for any parent and for Single Moms it can be extra difficult. As a former member of the club of fourteen years, I totally get that there’s a tendency to overcompensate because of the pressure so many of us women put on ourselves as nurturers to make sure everyone around us is okay.

I remember being super hard on myself about the gifts I thought I needed to buy my kids when they were younger – the latest PlayStation, newest G-Shock, cutest Uggs, hippest Abercrombie outfit, etc. Don’t misunderstand me. My kids never asked for those things, they knew that I was working a lot of hours and trying my best. It was more my own baggage. I grew up with a mother who showed me she cared by buying me things after she and my dad divorced and since I didn’t really have any blueprint as to how to mother (I was eighteen when I had my eldest), I thought that was how parents showed their affection. Sure, I said “I love you” all the time (something I didn’t hear a lot from my own mom growing up), but I also thought that in step with the verbal affirmation had to be a Barbie Doll or a new Teenage Mutant Ninja toy.

Christmas and Hanukkah gift lists can be a mile long and the pressure can be daunting for all parents but in a one-parent household, that pressure can sometimes be overwhelming. Starting right after Thanksgiving, there’s a seemingly neverending round of holiday party invites. Add that to the gift-giving headaches to all the decorating around the house in an attempt to make the season as picture perfect as possible for our children and you’ll be reaching for a spiked eggnog or Hot Toddy in no time.

Single moms need to make time for themselves and remember to practice self-care. After all, you can’t keep giving if your own tank is depleted.

Here are some holiday gifts to remember to give yourself that don’t cost a thing:

  • Take a bubble bath. Don’t underestimate the power of a relaxing, hot soak and a closed door away from the world. If your children/babies are still small, maybe leave the door open and place them in a playpen so you can keep an eye on them. If they’re old enough to play on their own though, don’t feel guilty about shutting the door. They’ll be fine.
  • Let yourself say no to supervising the school holiday dance or participating in a seasonal cookie swap. Betty Crocker is a fictional character. You don’t have to volunteer or agree to help with everything. Sure, teamwork is important but so is your sanity.
  • If your children do have lists or special items they want, set a budget. This benefits both of you. For them, it teaches them the importance of saving money and for Single Moms, it helps lighten the load and not your wallet.
  • Create experiences in lieu of shopping trips together. Malls and boutiques can be sensory overload for kids and nightmares for Single Moms. Instead, try baking cookies together or doing a craft project together (a couple of favorites my kids had included making paper mache piggy banks from old gallon milk jugs and wax paper crayon t-shirts). Take a walk outside and go sledding or jump in leaves together. Go on a scavenger hunt. Pick out a book and take turns reading to one another.

I know it’s not easy, but you can make it through the holidays and with a little pivoting, it can be just as enjoyable for you as it is for your kiddos.

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Mimi Bergman is a business owner, historian, wife, and mom. She’s an ardent feminist, Zionist, and activist. Mimi is a fourth generation Chicago Cubs baseball fan.