In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo spends a good amount of time talking about creating your life vision. I’m pretty sure mine wasn’t the scene out of a movie where I was a frustrated mom with short temper who squashed all time for self-care because everyone else took priority. Nope, my vision was more of a cool, calm and zen woman with many interests. Yes, with a full plate, but this woman was more like a smooth accordion, expanding and contracting when needed. All the while enjoying her family. Afterall, she was a KonMari expert!
But in reality, when my plate got loaded up, I was feeling closer to my nemesis than my angelic, ideal self. My irritability grew as my “me time” shrank. My predictably free windows of time were gobbled up by kids who needed extra bedtime tuck-ins, daily morning herding or attention during an abandoned nap hour. My default method of just “squeezing in” my self-care proved to be unsuccessful and made me a crabby, resentful mom and wife. Yes, I was that mom that I once judged, snapping at her kids in the parking lot. “Get. In. The. Car!” Yikes. Having those kids, however, ultimately forced me to prioritize the importance of a term that used to make my eyes roll: self-care.
IN SEARCH OF SELF-CARE
“Self-care” is a phrase that gets thrown around in articles, a lot. It almost warrants a sigh when I read it because I fear the overuse of the term dilutes the actual importance of it, as it did for me. More often than not, you don’t realize how badly you need it until you hit rock bottom. So even if you have to tell yourself that this self-care is so that you don’t lose more time recovering from bottoming out, so be it. But do it and do it unapologetically.
Here are some tips to guide you.
Try to remember the things that used to energize your mind and body and carve out a space for some of those things. What brought you joy before your life got so filled up? Before social media somehow gobbled up all your time, you must have done something! Did you like the endorphin rush that came from exercise? Did you talk to friends on the phone more?
Here is a list of some other ideas:
- Reading a book to escape (so, not in the self-help category)
- Taking a Masterclass
- Finding a podcast that you can relate to
- Baking for a neighbor or family member
- Learning a language with Babbel (assuming this doesn’t revive any schooling trauma)
- Flower arranging/houseplants
- Taking a ceramics or art class
- Meal prep for the week
- Playing a board game or even solitaire
Make your list and circle the things that you want to insert into your carved out time and choose actions that align with your why. Spinning and relaxing are not necessarily aligned. Meal prep and weight loss? Yes. You get my point. What is most important is your commitment to yourself and your greater vision.
MY NEW PRIORITIES
Running, meditating, journaling. These are my new daily priorities and disciplines. They make me a better mom, wife and member of my community. If I’m able to, at least in part, accomplish *some* of these habits each morning, then the edges of the day-to-day become less jagged and there is more room for inspiration, creativity and love.
When I spend 90 minutes “taking” for myself, my spirit is lifted and I have more to give. My kids’ tantrums feel muted and I feel more sympathetic than irritated. Oh, and the new cashier at the grocery store becomes endearingly awkward rather than incompetent.
By committing the time to yourself (or yourself to the time, depending how you look at it) you are telling yourself that you deserve it. And the side benefit is that even the people that are waiting for you (like the 2-year-old calling your name from downstairs) will thank you for it because you’ll greet them with grace and gratitude.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT 5AM?
Now here’s what makes this all possible. Those activities take time, so ask yourself, what are you doing at 5am?
Waking up early puts you in the driver’s seat. You are choosing what to do first, rather than a child or partner or work email deciding for you. (Don’t even think of opening up Instagram at this hour!) This is your space for deeper work—the efforts you put into growing yourself spiritually, which can include energizing activities like working out or guided meditation. The goal is to force yourself out of autopilot and into a new and unfamiliar space.
I’m always surprised when people see my early start as impressive or a sacrifice when it is me literally giving myself the gift of time.
This admittedly requires some discipline with going to bed. Here are my bedtime hacks:
- No late-night junk or reality TV, or frankly, any TV on weeknights.
- I’m in bed by 10 and barely make it two pages into a book. It is crucial to get at least seven hours of sleep, the ideal range being between seven and nine hours.
- I don’t scroll through Instagram right before bed.
- I cut way back on weekday wine because I just hated muscling through the morning fog– something that afflicted me both mentally and physically.
- There are no snack options for late-night: the kitchen is closed after dinner.
It’s been a journey. The selfish days before kids gone like dust in the wind. Then a skewed vision of what ideal motherhood was supposed to look like. Followed by a short fuse that well, shorted out. Call in the need to take care of myself for the sake of my family and, well, myself. Then revival of old happy habits (running) and the introduction of a new ones: meditation and journaling. The biggest hurdle? Finding the time. 5am isn’t easy, but I’ve never said after a good run or a trippy meditation session, “I wish I’d slept in.”
Take care of yourself. It doesn’t make you soft. It only makes you stronger, better, wiser and more loving.
If you want more guidance in distilling your needs, download my free FELT vision worksheet on my homepage to identify the areas that are feeling heavy and to see the path toward clarity.
Cassidy Nasello is a Certified Gold KonMari Consultant, a public speaker, and the founder of FELT. Cassidy’s diverse professional experience from serving in the Peace Corps to running advertising strategies in NYC has given her insight on how to inspire people to make dramatic transformations. She’s also an athlete, an entrepreneur and a hands-on mom to Conrad (4) and DeForest (2).
Cassidy does more than make a space beautiful, she inspires people to live a more fulfilling life. She approaches her work with clients holistically and uses the things we surround ourselves with as a vehicle for making greater change beyond just a tidy space.