After a particularly harried day last month, I found myself staring at the pile of work on my desk, and I could only think about how tired and burnt out I felt.
It happens to the best of us — even the ones who love what they do for a living.
Parents notoriously take care of everyone but themselves, and that’s especially true for work at home parents. Yet, our businesses, relationships and health suffer when we ignore our needs.
In order to attempt to establish balance and order in my life, I came up with the three steps below to use as a guide. I definitely haven't figured it all out yet, but I'm trying!
1. Figure out what you really need.
You know you need a break, but what does that look like? For me, during the day, I love being outside — whether it's at the beach or simply taking a walk. In the evenings, I love trying new restaurants and sampling a wine I've not yet tried.
For you, a pedicure or massage, an evening alone with a good book or a night out with your real live friends may be the prescription that makes you feel relaxed, renewed and rested.
So, how do you figure out what you need? Think about the perfect day, and list what you would do, where you would go and who you would see. That dream day includes the activities you need to include in your schedule as you care for yourself.
2. Prioritize and schedule self-care.
Most of us have strict deadlines. Miss one, and risk losing a valuable customer. So, why are we negligent in scheduling a deadline for ourselves? By not taking care of ourselves, we jeopardize our health, relationships and income.
Open up that Google calendar of yours and make an appointment at least once a day to do something nice for yourself, even if it’s only a 20 minute nap, a short walk around the block or a quick telephone chat with a friend.
In addition to your daily break, schedule a longer break once a week, and take at least one day a week off. Don't even walk through your home office door. Turn off your phone, shut down that iPad and simply recharge.
Yes, your deadlines loom, but you won’t be able to function at your best if you’re burned out. Prioritize and schedule self-care!
3. Set boundaries.
If you struggle to say no, join the crowd. I’m a sucker for saying yes when my kids need a ride somewhere or when a client asks for a last minute help. Then, I wonder why I’m working past midnight trying to get everything done.
Self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity that I need to do for myself. I’m learning to set boundaries and say no, and I hope you can too. The next time someone asks for something you don’t have time to do, try this technique.
- Pause and say, “Let me check my schedule.”
- Close your eyes and envision yourself enjoying your favorite free time activity.
- Quietly but firmly tell that person that you have other plans.
- Give them a time when you would be able to accommodate them or suggest two or three alternative providers.
- Move on with your day and reward yourself for saying no and firmly sticking to your boundaries.
The nurturing, protecting and parenting nature in us wants to take care of everyone. As a work at home parent, make yourself a priority and find the balance and order that improves your relationships, health and job performance.
I hear my morning walk calling. Which self-care step will you implement first?