Nurture myself…are you kidding? When? How?
Living Lessons in Happiness and Joy
Nurture myself? Are you kidding? When? How?
We have all heard it before but what do we do? This might be a slightly different take on the same subject for you.
Being a parent is exhausting. Between getting the kids off to school, work, home and activities there is little time to think about ME me me. Yet that voice inside us asks… What about me? How do we nurture ourselves in this frenetic pace?
The truth is we must nurture ourselves, for if we don’t who will? How can we be self aware if we do not take the time to check in with ourselves? How will we even know our needs?
Having practiced Non Violent Communication skills (Marshall Rosenberg, https://www.cnvc.org) and Compassionate Communication, (Robert Gonzales http://www.living-compassion.org) skills for many years, I have found some valuable ways to look at the choices I make as a mother, teacher and partner.
We must value our own needs with the same preciousness as we do our children’s or anyone’s for that matter. Does this mean we listen to the needs of the person yelling the loudest? Hopefully not.
If we do, it will lead to anger and frustration.
Valuing your needs means holding them as well as another’s.
You might ask… what the heck are my needs? How do I even know them? This takes practice and a bit of skill. Here are a few tips.
Tune into your body- Notice where your breath is. Do a body scan to simply be in your body.
- Ask yourself what you are longing for. This often points directly to your needs. I long for you to turn down the damn music… I have a need for tranquility and peace. I long to have a thought of my own in all this chaos. The need is for self-connection.
2. Develop a needs vocabulary. Here is a simple list that will help you. https://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory. Keep it with you and look at it when you are doing your body scan as to what your needs are.
Look at the needs, not the Strategies.
For example… my child wants to go out and run around and I want to relax and have tea. Rather than seemly opposite needs, these are strategies. Running around and having tea are actually strategies to meet needs.
3. The child has a need for play, and my need is relaxation. Could it be together we decide to walk to the park and I sit on the grass and read my book? Or I sit by the swing set while he plays and I can do gentle yoga positions. There are many ways to meet the needs through different strategies while holding both needs.
4. There are also times when we can hold both needs, but only meet one. My child is screaming and does not want to go to sleep. I want to relax. I might hold my child’s need for comfort and mourn my own need for relaxation not being met at that moment. Simply acknowledging my own need and mourning it allows a conscious choice rather than unconsciously moving into anger. I may come back to the mourned need later and check in to see if it is still alive for me.
As my own sons grew up and were able to talk, I would check in with them by letting them know my needs and asking them their needs. Together we would come up with a plan for the day. This way children develop empathy, kindness and an awareness of other people’s needs. These are vital skills for living in harmony with others.
5. At school I also ask children their needs as we start the day. I have large lists of needs vocabulary up on charts and children share what they hope for in a day. I tell them all needs are not always met but they are valued. We put the needs on the board for the day and build strategies around how we will meet them. One thing I particularly like about this is that the quiet children are heard. Often only the loudest children are heard. They see that others may value quiet and self-connections while their own needs are for play and connection.
It is the little things day by day that matter. Checking in with ourselves and holding ourselves with precious care is key to living well.