Inevitably, it happens in every workshop I do on conflict. Everyone is in sync with the techniques that are being taught, heads nodding in agreement, questions asked and answered. There is a flow… and then it happens.
I list self-care as a technique and the room goes silent, eyes have shifted down, guilty smiles appear until finally that defiant woman raises her hand to say, “ You had me until now. I’m a working mother. I don’t have time for self- care.” Then here comes the Amen chorus, “That’s right, no time, it’d be nice, but are you kidding? Amen.”
I have to laugh every time, because I know the challenges of which they speak and let me say right up front that I am aware that this challenge exists for parents who only have the job of full-time parenting on their plate. I am specifically gearing this message though to those who have the responsibilities of parenting and working another job as well.
As I have said before, engaging in conflict effectively includes taking care of ourselves in order to manage the emotions and physical responses to the conflict situations that arise. The more centered, rested and in control you feel, the more listening you will do, the more patience and empathy you will have and the more likely you will discern what is actually happening and respond productively rather than react mindlessly.
So, yes… self-care is an act of conflict resolution even for working parents who don’t see any way of getting it in.
Being a working mother myself, I know that having options is the best way for me to have a shot at starting on any new path and just in case you are already finding time for self-care you may find a few here that you can add to your repertoire.
Nine Options for Self-Care
1. Sneaking it in. Read books to your kids on self-care and do the exercises right along with them. Plus, a handful of Quiet and Sitting Still Like a Frog are two good ones to get you started.
Do a 60 second neck roll every two hours at work and then teach it to the kids to get another 60 seconds in at home.
2. Use a natural reminder. Choose something that you do at least twice a day, such as, turn on a light, pick up your phone, call your child’s name (that one alone should give you multiple times for this practice). Take three deep belly breaths each time you do your natural reminder. Five seconds breathing in, three second hold, five second breathing out. Doing It Intentionally
3. Practice the pause. Start with a one minute pause every time you have to do something involving electronics. About to hop on the computer? Pause. About to make a call or check an email on your phone? Pause. Take a full 60 seconds to check in with yourself to see how you are feeling. After a few weeks, extend the pause to right before you are about to say something.
4. Find a 5 minute quiet meditation and practice it daily. YouTube is great for this. I like Quiet Mind Cafe.
5. Catch your mind racing when you lay down to sleep and purposely switch the channel to the good news. If it seems like there is no good news, then create some for your mind and meditate on it until you fall asleep. Practice this every night.
6. Get an app like Ritual or Calm and take 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes right before bed to use it.
7. Take the time to play your favorite music 5 times a day. When you first wake up, when you are in the shower or tub, on your way to work, on your way home from work (or on your way to and from your workspace at home) and before bed. That’s 15 minutes or more of self-care.
8. If you pray, get a book of prayers and read one every morning and right before bed and you have now extended your prayer self-care time.
9. Set your alarm for ten minutes earlier ( yes, I know you need sleep). When you get up, set your timer for 5 minutes and sing, dance, write or draw first thing every day.
Of course, there are so many other things we can do for ourselves like, walk, workout, eat well, laugh, be sexual, run, play and get regular checkups. But the first thing that we must do is stop saying and believing that as working parents we have no time for self-care, because conflict doesn’t stop and wait for you to take care of yourself, it just keeps coming.
I want you ready.
Let me know when you try any of these or share with me what you are already doing.
In addition, take the Leadership Assessment Quiz here to find out how healthy or unhealthy your team is.