Every day, women sacrifice pieces of themselves to give more to their husbands and children. If you’re anything like me, you often let it go too far as you say yes to everyone else too – volunteering at church, organizing the soccer practice carpool, and as room mom every year for each of your kid’s classrooms.
As an Army wife, I’ve been conditioned to put myself after my husband’s military career and unit – which was Ranger Regiment for many years – our six children and all of their activities, and any possibility of having a thriving career outside of our home due to frequent moves.
Perhaps it has to do with being a military wife for almost 14 years, or perhaps it has to do with turning 40 a year and a half ago. Nonetheless, this gal is finally learning to say no!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my family more than anything and will always put them first, but I no longer feel guilty when I take time for myself. Whether it’s to take an hour for a hot yoga class or to meet a girlfriend for lunch. Every now and then I’ll treat myself to a mani and pedi. I’m so high maintenance, I know!
Experts agree that women burden overwhelming amounts of daily stress. These are even greater for spouses of service members, for whom the term “sacrifice” has been ingrained in them as deeply as “deployment” and “PCS.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of stress and pressure put on women: being parents, daughters, mothers, wives, professionals,” says Randy Kamen Gredinger, a psychologist and life coach who specializes in women’s issues. “All of these roles combined leave many of us not taking adequate care of ourselves – which is what sustains us and gives us the energy to take care of all these other responsibilities that we have.”
According to Spark People, an online support community that promotes healthy living, there are ways to daily de-stress and recharge. Even for those of us who struggle with letting go of control.
First, realize that you deserve some time to yourself each day. Stop feeling guilty for taking time out for you, and realize that it will help you be a better wife and mom. Because when you are tired, stressed out, and pulled in too many directions it is hard to give anything your best.
Decide how best to spend your “me” time. How you choose to spend this free time is completely up to you! Whether it be 15 minutes, an hour, or an afternoon, spend it doing something that makes you happy.
Evaluate the things that are wasting your time each day. Do you check your emails constantly and end up spending more time on your computer than planned? Do you run to the commissary a few times a week to pick up items that you forget, rather than plan in advance and shopping for two weeks at a time? If this sounds like you, these might be ways to save your valuable time doing something more important. Like taking a bubble bath!
Learn to say “no” to requests to do things that you don’t value or enjoy. This is a hard one for most of us, but the key here is to not over-extend yourself.
Ask for help with chores. Don’t be afraid to delegate to your spouse and kids. In fact, assigning kids daily chores teaches them responsibility and service. And if they don’t do the chore to your satisfaction, make them redo it until they do.
At the beginning of each week take a few minutes to designate specific time slots for all tasks that must be accomplished, including “me” time.
Treat your personal time like you would any other appointment and make it non-negotiable. If you don’t do this for yourself, no one else will do it for you. Your time is valuable, always remember that!
Commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of “me” time every day. Do something – or nothing – that completely lets go of responsibilities and releases your mind, allowing you to be alone with your thoughts. Whether you work or stay home, these momentary “breaks” are essential.
Create a daily ritual. This can be listening to music, taking a walk or meditating. Anything that helps you to relax.
I’ve found that by doing these things, I feel more energized and revitalized to a point that I enjoy my large and busy family even more than I did before. And in return, I have become a better wife and mother… well, maybe not during the early morning. Unfortunately, that is a lost cause even three cups of coffee can’t fix.
The greatest tragedy is a person too busy making a living, they forgot to make a life.