One, two, three….
I opened my eyes behind my goggles in the chlorine-filled pool. Through the mist, the legs of the other children danced in the shallow water. Their bright swimsuits faded in and out of view. One of my arms stuck out of the water, holding onto the edge. I pushed my body under the water. Quietly I counted to twenty…then thirty. My lungs began to burn and my grip loosened as my feet pushed against the bottom of the pool.
Coming up for air, I gasped in delight: a new record! Forty seconds under the water! My younger brother jumped into the water beside me and claimed that he could do fifty seconds. Our childhood summers were spent splashing in the city pool on top of the hill above our house. One of my brother’s favorite games was to see who could hold their breath the longest.
My husband works long hours. The laundry, dishes, meals, and homework often fall on me and sometimes I feel like I’m holding my breath. All of the responsibility starts to burn my energy: mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I feel the toll it takes on my body. When I have no one to help me in my everyday, feeling the weight of motherhood is like holding my breath under water. I feel suffocated, and I don’t want to feel this way. I feel alone, even though I always have a little one beside me. Their constant needs make me feel like I’m drowning. I need to come up for air, but can’t seem to find the time. I know I need a break, but how?
The tension of motherhood, exhaustion, and expectations will release in some way or another. Too many times I’ve found myself losing my temper because of the tension. Tears and tantrums from both mommy and child are sure to ensue. Self-care, or soul-care, won’t magically happen. It’s time to dig in and get going. I decide today is the day to spend time on me.
There are a variety of things that make me feel like I can breathe again. A trip to the grocery store alone, sitting in my car for a few minutes listening to music, taking a walk, exercise, putting my earbuds in so I can write a few sentences, and watching a show on Netflix are just a few things I love.
I’ve had to get a little creative, put aside my “ideal” place and time to rest, and find pockets of time for self-care. I can’t hold my breath forever. When my energy is low, and I have a hard time getting up in the morning, I realize I need a breather. My body and soul need a little space.
Plan. Planning ahead has helped me be intentional when it comes to self-care & soul-care. It also gives me something to look forward to if I know I’m going out for coffee with a friend or to Target to look around.
Prepare. Preparing ahead is hard, but thankfully I’ve found a few babysitters to watch my kids occasionally on Saturdays when my husband works. Texting them a few days before is hard to remember to do, but I’m getting better at preparing ahead of time.
Practice. Practicing rest and taking time to breathe will only make me a better mom. Investing in small moments has given me a better perspective. When I come back refreshed, relaxed, and rested, I’m ready to tackle the duties of motherhood with joy. The time away allows me to remember why I love motherhood.
Holding my breath was fun when I was ten, but not so much now as an adult. Practicing self-care is not something I can wait for until my lungs burst and I have come up for air. Taking care of myself is a practice I must plan and prepare to work through each day. In and out, just as I take in the breaths without even thinking, self-care will become a regular part of my day when I prioritize it.
Breathing isn’t something I write on my to-do list. It is a practical part of living. Self-care, like breathing, will come easily, without guilt, and in a soul-filled way when I stop making it a “must-do” and allow it to flow in and out of my daily rhythm of life. Make a habit of breathing. We are worth it. Our children need us to take care of ourselves. Just as breathing brings life to our bodies, self-care will cause our souls to come alive.
Sarah Frazer loves and mothers in a brick house at the end of a road with her husband, five kids, a cat, and some chickens. Motherhood is her calling and passion. She also loves to inspire focus and encourage deep-rooted Bible study for busy moms. Join Sarah on her favorite social media place, Instagram. Or you can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and her blog.