From Manuela - Lyn has decided to blog again! Go visit her at Essential Thrift
I get a general feeling often in the blogging world that women feel that they have to do everything and then some. Have you ever seen that 70’s commercial (okay, I am dating myself here) about the woman who can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan? The commercial alluded to the fact that women can do everything and do it well (at the same time). Now, before you might jump to conclusions, I am not trying to say that women cannot live fulfilling and meaningful lives. What I do feel though is that many women burn the candle at both ends and end up burnt out in the end by trying to keep all their plates spinning at once.
In my 20’s, I lived an active life, going here and there and giving time to others. In my early 30’s, I got hit with a brick – something called chronic illness. I would not even begin to know back then just how difficult things would become. Now, here I am in my later 40’s, not so very far away from 50, and life has been very challenging. There are days that I feel much older than my real age and there are many days that I cannot even begin to do all that I would like to accomplish. I am still learning how to be content when life doesn’t give or allow what I really want, especially the things that are more valuable than just “stuff”.
So in writing the last part of my series, I’m going to share a little heartfelt advice about taking care of ourselves. May I please say that as women we do not, and I repeat “do not” have to be martyrs for our spouse, children, other family members or friends. Of course we all have certain obligations if we choose the role of being a wife or mother, etc. Whatever role we have chosen we should be content with that. However, I don’t understand some of the thinking I’ve read that states that a woman cannot have time for her self or time to have some interests. Let’s face it, no one will appreciate a grouchy woman who lives as if she is a sacrificial lamb for her family, and is sure to remind them of it. Haven’t we all done this from time to time? I know I have and it’s something I am sorry for. We can’t take those things back, but we can learn from them and move forward.
It is not selfish to have a few hours or even more for yourself each week. It is not self-serving to want to have time to think clearly or to desire to feel rested and well. Sure, if a woman is out often during the week for fun and not home to help her family something is clearly wrong. But how is it wrong to feel whole as a person so you can give more to others?
Here are some practical ways to care for the person that you see in the mirror…you.
Invest In Yourself
1) Take a nap! Forget about the to-do list once in a while – it’s okay! Sometimes just taking a 15-minute or even half-hour nap can rejuvenate you and help you to get going again with renewed energy. Don’t think of it as being selfish, rather you are filling up your gas tank. How far does a car without gasoline go? (Tip for moms with young children – yes, you really do need to take that nap sometimes when the children are resting.)
2) Make ourselves a priority. Make ourselves a priority. This does not have to be elaborate. Put yourself down in your planner and make the time to renew your own spirit, whenever you need it. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother of 12, a widow, a single mom of 3, a homemaker without children, a single, or a college student. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs a break from the to-do list now and then. As women we ALL work hard. There are pros and cons to every season of life, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, we are just wearing ourselves down and eventually will have nothing left to give.
3) Treat yourself with little things. Treat yourself with little things. I personally can think of a few good things I love. I enjoy pretty-smelling soap. When I take my shower or bath I am really enjoying the fact that it will make me smell wonderful. It’s a small price for something you know will make you feel good.
Have some treats on hand that make you happy. I love popcorn, so I treat myself once in a while with Orville Redenbacher (bought with coupons of course). Another favorite is chocolate. Sometimes just a little piece or two of my favorite non-dairy chocolate hits the spot just right.
Instead of going to Starbucks or other coffee places, find coupons for special brands you enjoy. As an example, just this week I bought a box of Celestial Seasonings variety tea for .99 (after coupon). I can get 20 servings of tea for far less than a cup of hot tea or coffee at Starbucks. Also, a really good brand of hot chocolate is Ghirardelli. I bought several canisters (on discount of course). Sheer chocolate joy in a canister! Add some marshmallows and you are good to go. With the weather getting nicer little by little how about taking a thermos of your favorite hot beverage instead to your local park or beach and just enjoy the scenery. I don’t always find coffee shops to be so quiet these days and this is a nice alternative. If you can’t go anywhere, find a place outside (remember we talked about making our yard a personal retreat?).
4) Inexpensive hobby fun. I love books and I love to add to my collection when it’s a good frugal price. I’ve acquired some free or almost-free magazine subscriptions lately. They are a good frugal choice to me because I will refer to them again and again. Whatever hobbies you do enjoy, think of ways to use what you already have on hand and if you do have to spend money, do it as inexpensively as you can. (I find it quite enjoyable to make something out of what I already have instead of having to buy more.)
Even something like a trip to your favorite dollar store can make you smile. This week I was able to find a few needs and wants, and for the total price I paid I got a lot for my money. I bought gardening gloves, several herb-growing kits, pretty tissue paper and some seeds, to name a few - all things that I will use and enjoy. Maybe something you love to do is going window-shopping or visiting thrift stores or antique stores. Just go with a plan in mind and keep within your budget, and don’t do it so often. It will be more special to you this way.
5) Have a mini-spa retreat. Carve out a few hours for yourself to do all those things that make you feel better – a hot bath or shower, shave your legs, do your brows and nails, moisturize your body, a facial mask, etc. You don’t have to pay a bundle to have these things done by someone else.
6) Take a spiritual day renewal. Yes, it’s possible to take a complete day off from your responsibilities, really! Again, please do not feel guilty to take time to do something that will only benefit you and your life. Is there a beautiful scenic view close by that you can go to for some quiet time alone? You can take some books, your bible and a journal with you. Don’t forget physical nourishment too. We all need those times to just “be still”.
In ending, it’s important to take time to invest in your home, your loved ones and yourself. The key to what I share is to spend moderately and purposefully. It does not take a lot of money at all to invest in these areas of our lives. You can make your dollars really count by living frugally. Even if you are not currently struggling, by cutting back you can have more financial security. If you are struggling or are living paycheck-to-paycheck, being aware of what you do and don’t spend can often make a real difference. For myself, being a good money manager allows me to remain home with health issues while living on a smaller budget. The efforts I put into living frugally reward me far and above what I can begin to even share here. Living a frugal life blesses me and I am grateful for it.
Lyn is a homemaker who strives for a frugal and simple life. She’s a student of life who learns everyday and will continue to do so. She’s also thankful that she can write this while looking out her window, admiring the trees and listening to the rain.