There isn’t much that is more full of surprises than parenting. One minute, everything is running along smoothly; the next minute, you’re running to the school to pick up a sick child. But self-care for parents with mental disorders requires consistency, hard to come by for any parent. So, I’m building a list of little things I can do to keep my energy and spirits even despite what the day—and the kids—throw at me. I’m starting with my a.m. routine, because a calmer morning can set the tone for the whole day. Here are three things I’ve found that reliably get me going on a mellower path in the morning.
- Getting up just a little bit before the kids. I love my first cup of coffee and seldom get to enjoy the whole cup. My daughter is either in a great mood and I want to interact with her, or she’s in a foul mood and I want to hide. I realized it’s really that first aromatic, creamy sip of coffee that I want to savor in peace, so I hit the kitchen just five or ten minutes before my daughter. By the time she’s bounding down the stairs, I’m ready to see which of her faces she’s bringing to the day.
- Making my bed. If I don’t get my bed made in the morning, I go about the entire day feeling like there’s a dirty secret hiding in my house. But, if I take the two or three minutes to straighten the covers and pile up the pillows, I feel like I’ve already accomplished something before I’ve even gotten to the kitchen. Even if I never get to the breakfast dishes, I know my bed is made. And at the end of the day, pulling down the covers of a neatly-made bed helps me feel like someone cared about me.
- Starting the morning the night before. It takes less than two minutes for me to pick out an outfit to wear the next day. If I wait ’til the morning, I’m going to grab the nearest sweatpants and t-shirt and I’ll probably wear them all day. Sure, they’re comfy, but they don’t do much for my self-esteem. My daughter has gotten into this habit, too, but she takes it another step further. She sleeps in pajama bottoms with the top she’ll wear the next day.
They aren’t much, my three little things, but they do a lot to make it easier to get some of the stress out of my morning routine. What about you? Do you have any little tricks or treats that you use to make taking care of yourself easier?