As military spouses we like to wear suits of armor and lead a life where we can take it all on and nothing can stop us. But, is that really true? When we are left behind to play all roles, can we really do it without thought to our own self? I don’t think so…. Maybe there are some spouses who can do it all and never take time to see a movie with friends or get a massage. However, I don’t find that healthy; do you? It is important to the health of our family that we care for ourselves. I know exactly what I need to do for myself so that I can be 100% for my children and husband. And…. I know when I am not giving back to myself. What do I do for myself? Here are the tools I use….
1. Exercise! I remember the day I decided that exercise was about me and no one else. We had just returned to Japan from visiting family in the states. In my tired jet lagged mind I thought to myself, “I do so much for my kids, they can do this one thing for me for just 30 mins.” And from that moment forward it has been a priority. It burns off my extra pent up energy and helps me stay less stressed. I used a jogging strollers, base Fitness facilities, daycare and now Stroller Warriors. There is always time, you just have to decide it is about you and no one else and make it a priority.
2. Daycare! This is a controversial one for sure but, I firmly believe we milspouses need it. Not just so that we can go to doctor/dentist appointments but for time to ourselves. In past blogs I talk about using hourly CDC care when my boys were babies. Now, I use babysitters. No guilt here! Sometimes it is just so nice to sit in a coffee shop and read a book or meet friends for lunch, ALONE. One mom told me a long time ago that daycare was “mommy crack” and she was right!
3. Support Groups. Support groups can range from Navy Compass to FRGs to Wives.. oops…. Spouses Clubs (men don’t really join them, do they?) to Athletic Clubs. I am sure if you ask around you will find one. Most military installations have them. For me right now I have my Stroller Warriors. Sure, we meet up with our kids and run but we also go our for happy hour. They are my life line, a group of women that keep me laughing and inspire me. We are there for each other through it all and because we are all milspouses, we can relate to each others’ problems and support one another through them.
4. Girls/guys nights and dates with your spouse. Seems like such simple advice but there are way too many milspouses out there who dedicate all their time and energy into their children, jobs and volunteer efforts. Take time to cultivate those friendships from Facebook and date your spouse so that you don’t lose touch with the person you married. Someday those little people who vie for attention won’t be around on a daily basis and you don’t want to wake up and realize you don’t know your husband/wife anymore or that you don’t really have friends.
5. Have a hobby that is all your own. Find something (social media doesn’t count) that is just for you and you alone. This includes hobbies like knitting, reading, gardening and scrapbooking. I like knitting (although, I don’t do it often) and reading. I also run half marathons which I did because my entire life’s accomplishments where about my children and I wanted something that was solely mine. Knitting a sweater for a very dear friend’s new baby also made me feel that way. You will need something when your kids go off to school. Those first few days are wonderfully peaceful and then they become a little boring. It is also important that your children understand that not everything is about them. There are some things in life that are just about Mommy or Daddy and trust me, they will champion you onto those accomplishments!
So, take off your suits of armor and let your guard down, grab a friend or spouse and a glass of wine and enjoy yourself. You deserve the time! You deserve that pedicure and massage with your best friend. You deserve a date with your spouse and enjoy dinner without interruptions from children. You deserve to take care of YOU!!!
What do you do to relax and take care of yourself?