Fill Your Cup (Six Ways)
It's easy to get run down, tired, out of sorts. When you ask most women how they're doing... "Oh, fine. Good." What have you been up to? "Oh you know... *Insert 80 things they do on the reg, mostly for other people.*" And especially us moms, who literally have people's lives depending on us being at least somewhat on top of things every day. And as we pour from our cups to serve others, it's easy to look down and realize it's empty. Our cup. And we fill it just enough (mostly with caffeine, broken sleep, and our kids' lunch leftovers) to continuously pour it out for others. It's exhausting to feel like we're running on empty.
And I can't say I'm always good at filling my own cup. Some days I go dawn to wayyyy past dusk doing things I feel like I have to do, and doing things for other people. So I am thinking of ways I want to commit to filling my cup. And not in the girls weekend, expensive luxury gift type-way. Not the occassional things. I mean, sure, it's nice to have a treat here and there to pick us up, and I'd be okay with a new pair of Jimmy Choos every time I'm feeling tired... but I know I'm not alone in thinking that special treats just aren't enough. They're a good boost, but that would be like your annual bonus taking place of your salary. It's just not sustainable in any way. So here are a few ways I've been thinking of filling my cup. Things I can do every day, or really often, to keep my cup full so I'm happier, healthier, and a better me. Because even in the busiest (and hardest) seasons of our lives, we should feel better than just survival mode, we should feel alive while we're living life.
It's not a luxury to pour from a full cup. And a cup half-full is better than none at all.
1. Give yourself quiet time during the day. I have to admit, I've been slacking on this lately. Sleeping in has seemed more appealing than having my alone time in the morning, but I desperately need it. I'm not a morning person, at all. But I need the alone time and quiet time when 1. I'm not exhausted from the day and 2. nobody else needs anything from me. Before I've gotten around to my list at all, I need time to be alone with my thoughts. I like to read, look at pretty pictures on Instagram, drink my still hot coffee. Stillness is beautiful and necessary, especially when most of my day is anything but still.
2. Exercise. I'm the first one to admit that I don't enjoy working out. Going to the gym and sweating on purpose with heavy machinery is not my idea of fun so I'm not going to pretend that I do it. But I do like to walk and hike. I live in a beautiful place (I mean, we all do. We live on Earth...) and it's incredibly walkable here. So we've been walking. It's not much... a mile or two a day. But it's nice to sweat a little, have some quiet time. We take the dog(s), the boys ride in the stroller (usually with ample snacks, books, and a car or two), and I just move. No screens, maybe some music, maybe some learning with my boys about our environment. It's a lovely way to create memories and spend my time without having to think much and I really need that time.
3. Eat Real Food. It's so easy to just eat something convenient or snack throughout the day, or just drink coffee until dinner time... just me? But I usually regret it, or end up eating way too much at dinner time to compensate for my poor food choices. I always liked the idea of eating meals as a family, so I try to every chance we get. I like to make breakfast in the morning, especially since it's one of the only meals my boys will predictably eat, and it takes little time. Eggs, toast, and fruit is an easy meal, but it's nice to eat actual food that's not a protein bar. And sitting down to eat lunch together, even if it's just heated up leftovers or a turkey sandwich is a nice break. And Jude and Wyatt are in the naming phase, so we mostly just talk about our food while we eat it, but I don't mind. Being more conscious about my food not only helps me feel better, but I never realized how much of a luxury, and how satisfying it can be, to put thought into my food instead of it being an afterthought.
4. Read. Read books, read blogs, read magazines (even though I stopped subscribing to them,), read articles, newspapers, e-books about topics you're interested in, look through Pinterest and actually click the links!, just read... it's so important. You'll learn new things, form new opinions, maybe even meet new people. Join a book club if you're not already in one, and make time to read. Do this during your quiet time, and maybe dedicate some time to being screen free and read instead (if you're an e-reader reader, turn it on airplane mode for a little bit!). Being well-read shouldn't be a luxury, it makes you a better person. And it gives me time in a whole new world that I never would have had otherwise.
See some of my best book recommendations here. :)
5. Spend time with friends. Go out for MNO (mom's night out), host a mom's night in, get a sitter during the day and get coffee with a friend on a Wednesday morning... whatever you do, do something at least once a week. Heck - drop your kids in the gym daycare and drink drive-thru coffee in the gym lobby. I know it might sound ludicrous to some, or impossible, but having friends and nurturing those friendships, and speaking to other adults that you don't live with, is crucial and freeing.
6. Drop the ball. I always considered this a really bad thing, to drop the ball. And it can be when you have people depending on you and you made promises. But sometimes it's okay to just drop the ball. But be honest about it, with yourself and with the person depending on that ball delivery. If there's one thing every other human can relate to, it's being human. And if people expect you to be inhumanly motivated and on top of things all the time, then you probably don't want to be doing much for them anyway. Chances are, though, they're going to be like "Okay. Do what you need to do. I totally 100% get it." And if they're really good friends, they'll check on you later. We all need to learn to say no, and if you're looking at your day with dread, looking at something and feeling anxious or frayed, or overwhelmed, drop the ball. Be honest about it. And let it go. I heard Cher say once (yes I'm quoting Cher... don't judge me), "If it doesn't matter in five years, it doesn't matter." So cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to be human without beating yourself up about it. Your well-being is way more important than other people's expectations of you.
So - let's start this conversation, because I feel like it's really important. How do you take care of yourself regularly? If you're drawing a blank on that one, then what are you going to start doing? Fill your cup as much as you can, and give yourself the grace you deserve.