Smack In The Middle:
I Put Myself First For One Week
I have the good fortune of having three wonderful sisters, but one in particular, Stephanie, takes the spotlight today because she had my children for one week. That’s right; all four of them. Even the twin toddlers. (Stephanie, here’s my public, big and sloppy kiss of gratitude. Thank you for taking care of the kids and making my week spectacular!)
For seven blissful days, I had a chance to put myself first. I didn’t have to think about anybody else’s wants or needs—mine were of the only importance. I was almost completely self-centered and only did things that pleased me. I came and went as I chose. If I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t cook. Actually, I didn’t cook a complete meal for the week.
So what did I do? I followed my own advice about women putting themselves first whenever we can, however we can. Last year, I wrote an article for GEM about this very subject. But even as I typed, I felt inauthentic because I almost always considered the needs of my husband and children before my own. I was riding in the backseat of the car that was my life.
The article is called “10 Cool Ways To Put Yourself First,” and I’m happy to say I did all of them. I won’t bore you with every single detail, but these are the tips for putting yourself first and what I did to fulfill them.
1. Feel Gratitude For Taking “Me” Time—I felt no guilt about my children being with my sister. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I only felt thankful for having a sister who was willing to add my four to her four.
2. Learn To Say “No”—An acquaintance heard that my children would be gone and assumed that I would have time to do something for her. You know what? I did have the time, but I didn’t have the will. She got a big, fat “Thanks, but no thanks.”
3. Get The Support Of Your Family—Knowing how much I needed a break, my husband didn’t make any requests beyond the usual things I do for him. In all honesty, I didn’t do anything beyond the usual.
4. Plan Your Day—I wasn’t strict about this. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I could afford to make my plans flexible.
5. Create Rituals—A favorite ritual that I don’t get to enjoy is having a cup of coffee by myself. I don’t usually have coffee every day, but I did last week.
6. Go Out By Yourself—Well, this was obviously easy for the week. The good part about going out by myself was that nobody needed to go to the bathroom, nobody requested a snack every 10 minutes, and nobody complained about wanting to go home.
7. Go Out With Friends—I went out with Cherilyn, my oldest friend and one of my favorite people in the whole world. She and I caught a baseball game with my favorite team in the whole world. The icing on that cake is that the White Sox won!
8. Discover Your Passion—I’m one of those people who need to be alone to make new discoveries about myself. I spent copious amounts of time daydreaming and stargazing. One of my passions is writing. Because I had time to put more than two thoughts together, I came up with several new directions I want to go with that.
9. Take Care Of Your Body—I was already eating well and exercising anyway because I’m training to run a marathon in October. But I didn’t follow my usual tendency to overindulge because my routines were different. Oh, and I slept very well. I actually got 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
10. Set Boundaries—I made a useful realization that the only person who will set boundaries for me is me. I didn’t have to set my boundaries with anyone, but I do know how to do it and why it is so very important.
You know the really cool thing? I didn’t plan to follow this list. Everything unfolded organically and naturally. What this week taught me is that it’s easy to put myself first when there isn’t anyone else to think about. The trick will be figuring out how to follow this list and still take care of my family now that everything is back to normal.
If you had a week to yourself, what would you do? How do you put yourself first in daily life? Share your thoughts below.