Why can I not just self-care better?

The half term chronicles

Some of you may have seen my recent social media posts around half-term and keeping up with self-care. I went into the week feeling positive and motivated, but somewhere along the way my self-care got lost and I ended the week feeling less than my best.

I wanted to deconstruct this here, partly for my own benefit, and partly to show my followers that yes, counsellors can be rubbish at looking after themselves too, but we always have a new day to try again. It is all we can do.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to spend school holidays with my children; it is one of the reasons I chose to retrain. My children are still quite small (3 and 6), so the half-term week is always going to be busy, mostly with activities that will keep them from squabbling.

Having some kind of activity planned for every day is important for us, as the children struggle with the change in routine, and providing structure helps with this.

The beginning of the week went OK, we all muddled along, I got bits of housework done and the kids re-discovered lots of toys they had forgotten about. However, I didn’t have a great deal of time to keep up with the admin side of my business, or to study.

Wednesday came, and we had a great day out with friends. But Wednesday evening I was struck with a migraine, and the rest of the week was marred by the kind of hangover only a migraine can give.

Migraine aura

At this point, what I should have done, was to call on family for some help, dial back our activities, find some time to rest. But I didn’t do that, and by the weekend I was really struggling. I felt stressed about the lack of work I had completed, and that I was unwell, and that I wasn’t being my best self for the children.

Reading this back to myself, I can hear my own inner voice telling me how foolish I was being. Illness happens, and we have to roll with it. But at the time, I was unable to step out of my own experience and choose my health and well-being over being the ‘perfect’ mum I had planned to be over the holidays.

So, what was my block to self-care in this case?

Firstly, one of the things I know very well about myself is that I am a planner. I like to know what each day will hold, and if something de-rails it, I struggle to adapt. My plans were being de-railed, and I felt unable to adapt to my current situation.

Secondly, I had been really looking forward to the time off with the children. Not operating at 100% during a time that should have been all about fun and family was really getting me annoyed. Yep, annoyed. Irrational, but this again goes back to my need to plan.

I feel that I could have stayed in this state for some time – annoyed, disappointed, pretending that I could soldier on. So how did I take myself out of this unhelpful way of being and move forward?

You may have guessed, my favourite facilitator of self-care – self-reflection!

I took some time to consider what I could have done differently during the school holidays.

I could have planned for the children to spend some time with their grandparents. The offer had been there, but I said, no thank you! I wasn’t working, so I didn’t want to bother anyone else.

I could have ensured that in between our activity days, I made time for us all to have a chill, instead of being out and about all the time.

I could have pre-planned for a lack of time for cooking, cleaning, etc, which would have meant my days were a little less frantic.

In a practical sense, I have a much better plan for the next school holiday, and I feel a sense of relief at having given myself the chance to do that.

My self-reflection also gave me the opportunity to take a breath, and forgive myself for not living up to my own expectations. Yes, forgiveness! Adjusting my view of myself, learning from the experience, and letting it all go.

Taking the time at the end of the week to practice self-reflection has meant that I could start the next week with a clearer head and leave the pressures of the previous few days behind me.

It has enabled me to remember the good stuff from the week, like pottery painting, and baking cakes, and spending time with special friends.

How is your self-reflection going? Have you identified any blocks to your self-care?

If anything I have shared here has struck a chord with you, please leave a comment or send me a private message.


PS – Next time I will buy more food too, it was like a plague of locusts, my poor fridge didn’t know what had hit it!