Holding down a part time job, while homeschooling three kids, keeping house, and taking care of a dog doesn’t leave me with loads of time to sit back and think about me, me, me. But, when things start to get really stressful, I need to set aside even the smallest bit of time for me, or I start to feel like that lady in the Calgon commercials of yesteryear. And while a nice, long luxurious bubble bath sounds nice, I know I’d spend the entire time up to my neck in bubbles, thinking about everything I need to do.
Instead, I have a few quick tricks up my sleeve that take less than 15 minutes but leave me feeling like I did something good for myself. And I tell myself that someday, maybe when the kids are all at college, I’ll be able to take that bath.
Go out for a walk
I’ve always loved walking places when I lived in more urban areas, though I’ve grown more sedentary in suburbia where nothing is really “within walking distance”. This is where having a big black lab is a plus: She definitely needs to work off her doggie energy, and I can cover quite a bit of ground in 15 minutes. Since my kids are old enough to watch themselves (and I’m not going too far in such a short amount of time), I get to spend that time alone with my thoughts in the fresh air. For those of you without dogs, lace up your shoes anyway and hit the pavement for a little power walk—with or without the kids in a stroller. It really does feel great, even when the weather isn’t ideal.
I’m not a meditating kind of person, but after reading Mommy Niri and Lisa Johnson’s posts about their experiences with meditation, I’ve given it a shot. Just sitting quietly for a few minutes with my breath, telling my brain to s-l-o-w down feels really good. This is best done when the kids are still asleep in the morning, or when they are engrossed in a project downstairs, since angrily yelling, “Leave me alone! I’m meditating!” kind of defeats the purpose.
I can’t ask the kids to sit tight while I run off for a massage at the local spa, but I can leave them downstairs while I spend 15 minutes taking care of my skin with a yummy smelling face mask and some heavy-duty, wrinkle-avoiding cream. Or, another trick I’ve done for years is to rub gobs of hand moisturizer on my hands and then plunge them into little disposable rubber gloves. Sure, I get really weird looks if the UPS guy comes to the front door, and–boy–do my hands get hot, but the reward is super-soft hands, especially if I can stand to wear them for a good long time (bedtime is good too).
Housecleaning isn’t often mentioned in pampering lists, but, since a messy house ruins my mood like nothing else, I swear by this trick: I set the oven timer for ten minutes, put on some great music, and the kids and I run around the house, putting away toys, clothes, papers, dishes. . .No I can’t clean my house in ten minutes (I wish!) but when the timer goes off, we all can see a big difference—and, if I’m lucky, the kids ask if they can “keep cleaning a little longer“—-er, OK kids. . .go crazy! I’m going to lie on the couch.
In the perfect world, I’d have a gym membership and, after a nice long run or aerobics class, I’d have another hour to work on my chiseled arms and six-pack abs. In reality, I know any gym membership will go unused, as will big complicated home programs that require expensive equipment or an hour of time. But since gravity doesn’t seem to be giving me a break, I’ve decided to fight back. I grab the little 5-pound hands weights I keep in the family room, and do arm exercises for 10-15 minutes. Bicep curls, triceps push, deltoid squeezes, upright rows. . .It’s pretty amazing how many I can do in those few short minutes. I won’t have “Madonna-arms” doing this, but at least I can help tone things up a wee bit.
When all else fails. . .
I hide in my walk-in closet with a really, really good piece of dark chocolate and eat it v-e-r-y slowly.
Do you have any quick tricks for taking care of yourself during the day?
This is my second of three sponsored posts with Harvard Pilgrim (the first one is here!) All the thoughts, opinions, and advice expressed are my very own. Want to find even more ways to be well? Check out HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.