I think we can all agree that the phrase “self-care” can elicitmany emotions. For some of us, it brings up positive thoughts of meditating, relaxing, exercising, or doing fun hobbies/activities. For others, particularly those in busy seasons of life, it makes us feel frustrated because taking time for ourselves feels like an unattainable luxury. 

I recently heard Jen Fulwiler and Dr. Michael Naughton explain that the activities we choose to do for “self-care” are not as important as how they make us feel. So for example, if taking a mental break to watch TV makes you feel refreshed, then by all means binge away. 

But if you finish the show and still feel a sense of overwhelm or dread, then that activity may not be the best thing for you to do. Jen challenges us to ask ourselves “Is this activity really refreshing my soul? Or do I feel just as stressed as I did before starting the activity?”

What it really boils down to is being more intentional about the activities we choose to do in our free time. Now I know what you may be thinking- free time?! Wouldn’t that be nice? Trust me, momma, I’m right there with you.

As a solo parent (for the time being) of a 2 year old and a 4 month old and working outside the home full time, free time is definitely in short supply here. This is a particularly busy season of my life right now. 

So what do I do in those rare quiet moments that both of my kiddos are asleep or otherwise occupied? Well, I won’t lie to you. Sometimes I rush around the house like a mad-woman trying to clean and declutter and run loads of dishes or laundry. But other times I look at the never-ending list of things to do and decidedly push it away in favor of a good book or a cup of tea. 

The thing is, those toys will still be on the floor in 10 minutes from now (and let’s be honest, they will be all over the floor again 10 minutes after I put them away.) So instead of spending my time doing that, I choose to take a few minutes to do what feels refreshing to me in the moment. 

Sometimes this is reading a book or praying a daily devotion. Sometimes it is literally just scrolling through facebook or instagram and not feeling guilty about my kids seeing me on my phone. But whatever I choose, I don’t feel guilty because I’m allowing myself to have whatever I need in those few minutes. 

And this helps me to be a better mom when my toddler starts wailing or my baby needs a diaper change. Taking those few minutes to do something (or literally nothing) gives me the mental recharge I need to bring my better self (because let’s be honest, my BEST self would have a full night’s sleep!) to my kids. 

That being said, I do think self-care in the sense of taking care of your physical needs is important too and during busy seasons of life may take a bit of creativity to fit into your schedule. (You can my tips for doing that here.) 

But for now, I want to challenge you to think about the things you do to fill your time and how they make you feel. If you’re finding an endless supply of stress, try switching up what you do in those moments of “downtime.”

And when you have little “free” moments, give yourself the grace to leave the pile of laundry or the dirty dishes for a little bit longer to do something that feels refreshing to you!

P.S. I'd love to hear what things you to do feel refreshed! Comment below or send me an email at hello@sparklewithgrace.com

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