During a recent long weekend, our family of three had no plans other than to recharge and reconnect. I needed it more than ever. For the past month, my workdays and weeks were long, leaving me depleted at the end of each day. Hectic mornings caused my stress and anxiety levels to soar, trying to get myself ready as well as a toddler who firmly believes she can do everything herself.
By the time Saturday would arrive, I was exhausted, and frankly, rather useless. Finally, by Sunday, I was feeling recovered just enough to give maybe an ounce of attention to my 2-year-old in between laundry, essential cleaning, and family trips to the grocery store to prepare us for the week ahead.
The cycle was on repeat for weeks, and I needed a break mentally, physically, and in my heart.
This is the point where a lot of people would say I should take more time for myself and look into some self-care. which is totally logical and well-meaning advice. In my two short years of motherhood, I’ve learned self-care and wellness looks different for everyone. Some enjoy stepping out for a few hours for some pampering, some plan a night out with friends, some prefer retail therapy, and others just need a nap (guilty).
Admittedly, I did send my child to daycare on a day I took off of work so I could have a day to re-calibrate before our long weekend of family togetherness. I was gearing up for four days of quality time with my daughter and husband at home.
The result was something unexpected, perhaps even transformational. It’s something I had realized long ago but didn’t know exactly how to articulate or express. When everything else around me feels out of control and chaotic, my version of wellness involves getting on the floor with my favorite little person and doing whatever she wants.
We played with her princesses, cars, and stickers. We read books and watched movies. She grabbed my hand and made me run up and down the hallway too many times to count, to get her baby dolls whose diapers needed to be changed.
Granted, she’s 2, and as moms know who’ve been through this stage, there are challenges. However, when I engaged with her and gave her more than just a fragment of energy after a long day, I could immediately see a difference. She was finally asking for me instead of daddy (sorry, hubs) and I can honestly count on one hand the number of meltdowns we had in 4 days at home.
Perhaps this is more a reflection of my parenting and a wake-up call that I need to be way more engaged and present. Still, I’m also going to officially put it out there that, in this season of life, my idea of self-care is soaking in the silliness, curiosity, and quick snuggles of my toddler who is getting so big, so fast. So, don’t take it personally when the only place I want to be is at home, or if we do make plans to go somewhere, I want to bring my daughter along.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my perspective when she turns 3, and especially when we hit the pre-teen years. So, don’t completely count me out for pampering and retail therapy just yet.