Self-Care is a pretty popular term these days. Especially with all of the emphasis on mental health in recent years. If you type Self-Care into the search bar of this site you will find many posts that give tips, tricks, and advice centered around the idea of self-care.
But, What if I can not afford Self-Care….Then what?
For me, my self-care has looked a little different in every life season, especially after having children. But I always seemed to land on a routine or focus that helped me fill my cup. For a while, it was going to the gym for an hour after dropping them off at school or taking a walk after putting them to bed. Sometimes self-care was escaping to a weekend getaway, or it was simply grabbing lunch or coffee with fellow moms or a day date with my husband who worked shift work and often had full days off in the middle of the week when the kids were at school.
In the last few years I have seen my stress levels rise drastically but my ability to do the things that felt like self-care declined.
My kids are getting older and I can no longer quietly cart them along to every coffee date with a handful of colors and a pre-made bottle or pantry snack. If they are coming with me then the tiny humans must eat too and that means my bill is doubled or tripled what it used to be. They also have more activities of their own that we committed to as a family which means when those things are done the last thing any of us want to do is go anywhere else.
My husband took a new position at work that took him off the shift work schedule to a Monday- Friday straight days job. This means that while we LOVE having him home every single night, his days off often are also when our kids are out of school, so to sneak away requires a babysitter. I don’t know if you have hired a babysitter recently, but they are NOT cheap. This puts a lot of our old self-care, connecting activities out of our current budget.
Then my hour walks, or gym time all but disappeared with my move from a student at Del Mar to a full-time student at TAMUCC. Where I used to do most classes online, I am now on campus Monday-Friday for almost the entire day and add the time I have to spend on homework due each week I can not seem to find a gym or walking schedule that fits in.
This means for the last year my self-care has looked like short bubble baths at the end of the night and sleep whenever possible. My body, my weight, and my spirit are starting to feel the effects of this. I’m just so dang tired. As I am sitting here writing this in a break between classes I can feel the tension in my back, my focus is suffering and I just want to lay down and quit.
I write this not because I have any answers but because I am curious about what others do when they do not feel like they have the time or money to spend on what society tells us is good self-care. This summer I had a conversation with my husband about how empty I felt, I told him things like going to the pool with the kids or taking just an hour or two of quiet at the end of the day helped, but it felt like I was trying to fill a cup that was broken. It was never able to be filled in order to continue to pour into the things I needed to.
I did take time this summer to prioritize. You’ll notice even here at Coastal Bend Mom I was pretty quiet. I had to take a step back from everything that was not my family or my schoolwork. And it helped. Enough that about a month ago I decided I could write again….for fun. But I do not feel like I have totally fixed my cup, it still feels cracked.