Here’s a phrase I hear a LOT. “You really should take some time for yourself”. It comes in different forms such as “you need to put yourself first” and “self care is really important you know”. They are all absolutely true, and often concerned friends or family will approach me with these conversations as they genuinely worry about my lifestyle.
Now I’m not ignorant about my own care needs. In fact I’m very aware of them. But what people often don’t realise is that there are genuine reasons why self care often isn’t an option for those caring for children or adults. Self care is a challenge, and whilst yes you can argue it is essential, quite often the caring responsibilities we hold override our own needs.
So why then when we do finally get time to ourselves, do we not necessarily prioritise self care? Why do we not use every minute we have to ourselves to eat well, exercise, relax and socialise? Here are my reasons.
1. I. Am. Exhausted. Not just tired, exhausted. At times my diet can be appalling. Why? Because if I had to choose between cooking a healthy nutritious meal and getting an extra hours sleep, sleep wins every time.
2. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have respite. It’s a common misunderstanding that all carers get time off. But I can tell you now, they don’t. You want respite? You have to fight for it. Why don’t you fight for it? See point number 1.
3. You’re a carer. The clue is in the title. And whilst you spend hour after hour tending to someone else’s needs, you genuinely forget what your own needs are. You lose the habit of picking up your favourite hobby. You forget what relaxation techniques used to work for you. And why can’t you remember them when you have that rare hour off? See point number 1.
4. I miss my husband. If I spend my rare time off alone, I don’t get to see him at all. So when people ask me why I don’t sleep in my free time, it’s because I’m also trying to keep a happy marriage going whilst caring. And for that, you kinda need to spend some time together…
5. Time off is not always time off. Funnily enough, caring is not a well paid profession. In fact for family members it’s not even considered a profession. So whilst I would love to employ a cleaner, personal shopper, gardener, cook etc. I can’t really see if happening any time soon. I’ve had to accept over the past couple of years that my humble abode will deteriorate to levels that in a previous life I would never have allowed. But even our bathrooms need cleaning sometimes…
I don’t write this to moan about my life, or seek sympathy. It’s to help others see into my life, see why I choose to put myself last. Because it is a choice, and it’s one I’m happy with. Even if it does mean that I usually look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards and haven’t slept for a fortnight. My baby is worth it.
Thanks for reading,