If you thought my goal yesterday of writing a book was a big goal, today's goal is even more ambitious. Although, I’m certain I will get my book written - IF - I can somehow accomplish today’s goal.
The eighth goal of my #2021Twenty is to take one evening off every week as self care.
This is going to be incredibly difficult for me because my entire family relies on me for absolutely everything. With three special needs kids and a wife who is also very sick, both mentally and physically, all but going to work to earn a paycheque has fallen on my shoulders these past few years.
Most people don’t understand just how trapped I have been. How there has literally been no time for self care. How if I take time for myself, someone else suffers because of it.
Before I became a full time stay-at-home parent, I had a thriving career in event planning and concert production. In 2017 that came to an end, but I held onto my teaching role at a local college for another year while I transitioned into being a full time stay-at-home parent. Every Thursday night I would leave the house between 5:30PM and 6:00PM and go to school, often not returning until close to midnight. We had a routine going and it worked for that one night a week. It wasn’t always pretty, I always had a lot of extra stuff to do before I left and I often had to catch up on stuff once I returned, but I got to leave the house and do something else while interacting with others for a few hours, and it was great. I looked forward to Thursday all week long.
Giving a three hour lecture to a class of college students is one of the most exhausting things you’ll probably ever do, but I enjoyed it. Ironically, it energized me (even though it left me temporarily exhausted). I had a smile on my face at the end of the evening, no matter how late it got. It was my form of self care. Self care is giving the world the best of you… not what’s left of you. And my student could attest that I came alive in those classes; teaching brought out the best of me. And then in turn, having that time away from my kids and family allowed me to catch my breath and return home somewhat recharged and ready to give them my best too.
Now sadly that opportunity is gone. I’ve been searching for something else for the past two years, but with everyone’s diagnoses piling up and with Lisa being sick too, it’s been two more years of being stuck in survival mode.
This past year I began going to a gym. I identified a small window of time between putting the boys to bed and needing to put Madison to bed, where I could leave Madison and Lisa in the living room and take off for a quick hour and go workout. Now while that has been amazing and has helped me so much, it’s been rushed and stressful at times knowing I’m still on the clock. It hasn’t relieved me of any responsibilities, or allowed me to really relax.
So all this to say, I’m making it a goal this year to reclaim my Thursday night’s. I can feel burnout setting in. I’m feeling demoralized and exhausted, and because of this I think it is best for the sake of everyone, that I withdraw and restore myself. In fact, back in October I wrote a great blog about running out of gas. If you missed it, you can find it HERE. But I’m running on fumes and about to run out of gas completely. I can feel it. Survival mode or not, and potentially having someone suffer a little to save myself, this has to become a priority. For stay-at-home parents, we don't get that time away from the home where we can separate ourselves for a little bit. Take a breather from the stress and noise of the home environment, and potentially even socialize with other adults. People around me have encouraged it for a year now and perhaps my excuses for not doing it sooner weren’t justified like I thought they were, but again only one or two people have actually seen with their own eyes what I’ve been faced with these past two years.
I’m worried about what I’m going to fill that time with seeing as teaching a class is no longer an option. I don’t just want to sit in an idling car in an empty parking lot somewhere. I don’t have any friends (in real life), or else I’d try to meet up with them for a few hours. So, I’m thinking I might find a quiet restaurant or coffee shop and go work on writing my book. Maybe you can share some ideas too. Keep in mind the world is still flipped upside down which complicates this goal even further.
At any rate, it needs to happen. It is not selfish to love yourself, to take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority. It is a necessity.
So, today’s goal is to make that happen. To reclaim my Thursday night’s and to take some time for self care.