To Mother Oneself: 5 Ways I'm taking care of myself as a creative
A few weeks ago, I needed a break. I felt like I was behind in so many things and that I could never catch up. I felt rushed and stressed all the time. After a number of weeks of this, I recognized that that pressure wasn’t necessarily going to change, but I could give myself some breathing room and change my relationship to it.
I decided to take two days off from work.
Now, I know that doesn’t sound revolutionary to you. I’ve taken plenty of days off before, and a large part of why I am a jeweler and chose to work for myself is to have the freedom and flexibility of not having to ask a boss for time off.
But there was a difference this time. This time was the first time in a really long time (let’s just say I don’t remember when the last time was) that I took the time off, not because my kids were off from school, not because I had appointments, not because family or friends were visiting…. This time, I took time for just myself, with nothing else I “had” to do.
What I ended up doing is not important, and probably not that interesting. What is important is that I gave myself some breathing room and space to listen to what I wanted and to make decisions based on my desires and needs, and no one else’s. As a mother, a partner, and a business owner, I am always aware of what needs to be done, who needs what, and how I can help. I needed to mother myself this time and ask- What do I need? What do I want?
I came out of this time I gave to myself feeling so refreshed and renewed. I had pressed a reset button I didn’t even know I had. I felt creativity coming back to me.
Since then, I have been thinking about how I mother myself, along with my children. Here are five simple things I’ve started doing that feel like taking care of my body and spirit in a way that a mother would their child.
- I have begun making a cup of tea for myself each morning. Yes, mornings are rushes, but I make it for myself, and enjoy each and every sip. It reminds me to slow down. This tea is also special, because it was a gift from a woman from Japan who stayed in the home where my studio is housed. She was only there for two days, but on one of those days, while I worked in my studio, she knocked on the door, and told me she had made me a cup of tea. It was such a sweet motherly act, and I was so touched. It was definitely the most delicious cup of tea I had ever had. An unexpected gift, warm and smokey. She’s not here now, but I can still gift myself that cup of tea whenever I want.
- Walking my kids to school. Which is 3 miles away and up a small mountain. Yes, this serves a purpose of something else that “needs to get done” (dropping my kids off), but it’s actually something I really want to do. I love getting to walk long distances (6 miles for me, because I have to walk back!) but don’t do it regularly because “I don’t have time.” Except, it turns out that I do. I just wake up earlier. Of course the kids complained at first, but once they did it a few times, they realized how great it is to breathe the fresh morning air and move their bodies. So, in this case, mothering myself means transforming a routine that has to get done into something I enjoy so much more (and that I think benefits my kids too).
- Taking a bath at night. Our bathtub started leaking in September of last year, and we never bothered to fix it, which meant we could only take showers. We finally did fix it (it literally only took 5 minutes- we hadn’t realized it was such an easy fix), and I am so grateful to light some candles, pour in some epsom salts, and relax in a hot tub of water.
- Blocking off time to just create (I’m just starting this). As a jeweler, you would think all I do is create! But I also happen to be a business owner, and a lot of my time gets spent on business-y things, like website design, taxes, etc. etc. I was feeling like my creativity was at a stand still, and was having a hard time getting it to spark. However, similar to how I took two days off, I have started blocking off a whole day just for me to create. Giving me that space has awoken my creativity, and it feels great.
- Getting a good book and giving myself time to read it before a not-too-late bedtime. My bedside table literally has 7 books stacked on it, all of which I haven’t finished. Depending on my mood, I choose which book I read. I’m actively reading two- The Autobiography of Malcolm X and a book about two sisters who hiked the Appalachian Trail barefoot.
My intention is to continue to mindfully think of ways I can mother myself- giving myself care, listening to my wants and needs, and just being kind to myself. I know it refills a well that needs refilling pretty badly. Maybe you need this too? I encourage you to think of one thing new or different that you can do to mother yourself. It can be hard if we are used to always tending to others, but it is so necessary and worth it. We’ve got to lift ourselves up as we lift others up. We can’t forget about ourselves. We’ve got this!
And here's a peek of what came out of the day I just blocked off for creativity: