This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson. I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way. To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.
After decades of giving to others, it’s time to give back to yourself. Channel your restlessness and greater free time into taking care of your physical, mental and spiritual self. This can involve some very simple actions, yet (to begin with) they may be surprisingly hard after so many years of personal neglect. To begin with, set aside an hour a day for yourself. At the same time each day, choose a quiet space and simply sit in stillness, or write whatever comes into your head in a journal. There’s no pressure. This is a common tool for allowing the day’s ‘baggage’ to flow in and out of your mind, eventually being replaced with real creative thoughts about what you want to do with your time and your talents.
Why is it that we women often neglect ourselves during the process of raising our families? Why do we not realise at the time that we are important too and that everyone benefits (not just ourselves) if we take some time to look after ourselves as well? Why do we feel guilty if we indulge ourselves by partaking in a little self-care or fun?! It’s interesting isn’t it? It’s perplexing as to why it takes until we reach this mid-life phase of life that we understand these things, often too late to save ourselves some of the consequences of that neglect. I know that this was the case for me!
I do understand that while the kids are young and we are deep in the child rearing trenches and working as well, it is hard to find time for yourself. Those are busy days! Some of us do better than others, but generally most of us could certainly do better for ourselves during those years and we really need to lose a lot of the ‘guilt’ we inflict on ourselves.
Since I left my previous corporate working life I have learnt many things, including the following:
- life is too short to be swept along in auto pilot and attempting to please others
- we need to get to know ourselves and create a life that helps keep us feeling balanced and nourished in mind, body & spirit
- we need to love what we do
- we need to try to be brave enough to be our authentic selves without fear of the judgement of others
- we need to forgive ourselves for our perceived weaknesses or failings
- we need to watch that self-critical voice in our heads and replace those words with ones of self-love and encouragement
- self-care is a priority and necessity, not a luxury!
- every kind of adversity holds lessons that help us to grow
- being mindful, present and grateful are simple but powerful tools for obtaining happiness and contentment
Writing my blog has been great therapy for me over the last (nearly) seven years, enabling me to indulge my creative side and to dig deep to help ‘find myself’ – to discover and understand my thoughts and feelings and wants and needs and share my learnings. It’s opened up a whole new world for me and connected me to many like-minded people. Through blogging I discovered a love of photography and ended up doing a Diploma in Professional Photography. I learned that I love to write. I don’t write in a journal. That’s not my thing, but my blog is like my journal! I’ve discovered the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and learning to live more in the present. I’ve discovered so many things about myself, but most importantly, I understand and know myself much better now.
Did you neglect yourself when in the child rearing trenches? Do you make time for yourself now? How well do you know you?
Ciao for now,
Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit | Kathy of 50 Shades of Age |
Deborah of Debbish | Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey.
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all five blogs.
It’s funny, but I feel as though I have less time for me now than I ever did. I suspect that it’s because I work from home, my husband is always at home, and my “me” time is hijacked by guilt that I should be spending time entertaining or doing things with him when I finish work – when all I really want to do is have some time on my own. Having said that, I love that we do spend time together – and that our 20 year old wants to spend time with us too, but sometimes it’s almost as though I looked after me more when I was commuting and travelling for work. Weird, I know.
I completely ‘get’ why you might feel that way Jo. With your hubby home and home jobs to distract you’d have less ‘alone’ time and ‘Jo’ time (Jo time = not a wife, mother, housewife). I used to get a lot more reading done when I was commuting. I commuted 2 hours every day (on the train) and I went through SO many books. Of course, my concentration was a lot better then too. I find now I’m home that I’m constantly torn in different directions – my skin care work, the blog, family commitments, housework, medical check-ups, the list goes on. How did I ever find time to go to work and commute 2 hrs every day?? I’m so busy all the time with a ‘To Do List’ a mile long! So I get time alone but not always to do what I’d like to do but certainly much more than it used to be!
It’s hard not to care for others, even though I don’t have kids. I had a business, patients and employees, and I tended to put them first. It’s been quite freeing to spend some time and energy on me in these last couple of years!!
I totally agree Jodie. I’m a very nurturing, caring person, always worrying and caring about others. Sometimes to my own detriment though. I’m glad you’re spending some time and energy on YOU – you deserve it! 🙂
It has taken me 60 years to actually start finding myself Min and I still feel there is a way to go. We are born to be carers and nurturers and this takes precedence when we have children (and grandchildren). I do think our generation are showing the way though and perhaps our children and grandchildren will discover themselves much faster than we did. Have a beautiful day, my friend. xx
To be honest, there is still a way to go to finding MYself too Sue. I know a lot more about myself than I did 5 years ago, but there’s more to discover yet. I’m very much a carer and nurturer. It’s who I am. It’s why I have a dog. I need to mother and love. However, I often take it too far and to my own detriment, so I’m learning to prioritise myself and do so without guilt. I think our children and grandchildren are poles ahead of us in this area. I hope so! Hope you have a beautiful day too! 🙂 xo
We are very much alike in the area of caring and nurturing, Min but we also need to take a step back occasionally. I agree that we have taught our children and grandchildren to be independent and live their lives, so yes they are miles ahead of when I was there age. Thank you for linking up and sharing at #MLSTL it is lovely to have you as part of our community. Have a beautiful day! xx
I think that being caring and nurturing are wonderful qualities that we have Sue, but it can be to our own detriment too if we don’t be sure to take time for ourselves as well … step back as you say … occasionally! Thank you for your usual lovely and kind words! 🙂 xo
I started living on my own early and was on my own happily for a while so I had all that time for myself. I feel I know me well, Min. I care for my family but I also know to look after me so I can continue to care for them.
That’s wonderful to hear Natalie! Good on you! Wish I’d done a better job of looking after me many years back. xo
No child-rearing trenches for me but I kinda still understand the concept of putting everyone else first as it’s a bad habit I have. But I think I’ve realised how damaging it can be to put yourself last / not look after your physical / mental health so I’m slowly getting there. x
Yes it can apply generally in life whether you’ve got kids or not. Work / family / friends … it’s about listening to yourself and attending to your own needs too in order to feel as well as possible (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally) for yourself and for the benefit of others too! 🙂
Perhaps I’ve lived a selfish, indulged life (!!), but I don’t feel as if ‘me’ was ever lost, even in the completely riotous child-raising, running a business and renovating houses days of madness. Incredibly busy and stressful, but still me. Very much enjoy a slower pace now, with lots of time for stuff I like as well as supporting family.
You haven’t lived a selfish or indulged life Chris – you’ve just been sensible and done a better job of looking after you than some others of us! Good on you, especially because it sounds like you’ve had an incredibly busy life! 🙂
The child-rearing trenches – what a great concept, although I don’t think I ever thought of it like that at the time. Trenches or not, it was right where I wanted to be!! So long ago now, and such a beautiful time with so much self-sacrifice (not necessarily a bad thing) that just came with the territory.
I love that you’ve discovered photography and blogging in recent years Min, because I love reading your offerings xx
The child-rearing trenches is a term that I’ve seen used a lot to describe those days where life is very busy with school runs, homework, cocurricular activities, etc etc. It’s not said with a negative connotation at all. I loved those days too and it was exactly where I wanted to be. It’s just that along the way I (and many other Mums) love and care for their kids so much that they forget to look after themselves as well. The self-sacrifice can be taken too far at times! I know that I for example am super maternal – very loving, caring and nurturing – which is a good thing but it can sometimes be to my own detriment. I love that I’ve discovered writing/blogging and photography too, and I’m glad you enjoy reading my ramblings! Thanks Sue! 🙂 xo
That’s the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from Midlife Min – to re-discover (actually to discover) myself and to like that person and to nourish that person – to stop apologizing and trying to meet the expectations of everyone I come in contact with. To stop second guessing myself, to stop trying to be perfect and several other stoppings! Now I’m learning that I’m good enough and that is all I can expect to be – and to get on with enjoying life on my own terms. Blogging’s been a big part of the journey for me – and all the wonderful women who’ve helped me get to this point because they’re on the same journey.
Yes to all you said Leanne! Blogging is a wonderful way to help discover or re-discover yourself isn’t it? 🙂 xo
Min I just re-read this and I thought to myself that I could tick every one of your dot points and relate completely to what you said about blogging. Midlife is such a wonderful opportunity to find ourselves and I feel so sorry for those women who waste this time feeling sad and lost! #MLSTL 🙂
I’ve enjoyed the last few years of re-discovering myself Leanne. I’m certainly quite a bit different to the 20 or 30 year old version of myself … and I’m not talking physically either (though yes I’ve changed physically too!). Though at the core I’m the same person I’ve always been – it’s priorities and likes and dislikes etc that have changed quite considerably.
Min, I can so relate to what you’ve written and the questions you’ve raised. I’m in the motherhood trenches at the moment and it’s been a journey trying to find a balance and not get lost in all that has to be done.
Leanne’s comment above about liking and nourishing oneself is something I’ve also learned to seek each day.
Fantastic that you’re aware of the need to like and nourish yourself whilst you’re still there in the motherhood trenches SSG – yay to you! 🙂 xoxo
Looking back on when I was the mum to two small children, I still managed to have some time for myself. I played tennis twice a week and also went to swimming squad training 2-3 times a week. Both activities were family friendly thank goodness. I must say that there were times when I had to put myself last and forgo my interests, but I think I was pretty fortunate to be super organised. I do know lots of women that have put themselves and their health at risk by doing too much for their children. Some mums are their own worst enemies.
I think the hardest days for me were when I was working full-time and the kids were all at school. The exhaustion of keeping on top of their schedules and needs and feeling torn between wanting to be a good mother and trying to do a good job at work … and then there was the house … and the schools … and the friends I felt I was neglecting … and extended family …. and so on and so on. I was constantly trying to please all these ‘others’ and not looking after me. I may have got time to myself on the train to work or at pilates once/week … but I was exhausted and disconnected … basically on auto-pilot just trying to survive.
Min, Interestingly, while I never had children, my workaholic focus made me think often that my project outputs were my “kids” … I put work before my self-care and relationship building! So all the elements you point out about self-discovery are true for me as well – figuring out my authentic self, designing a balanced life., being kind to myself (for perceived weaknesses), and allowing myself to be me. ..not what is expected by others, but my true self. Scary endeavor.
I was a bit of a workaholic and perfectionist myself so can completely understand what you’re saying Pat. I agree that you don’t have to have children to fall into the habit of neglecting yourself. By neglect – I don’t mean neglecting basic needs. We still eat, sleep, have shelter etc … it’s more about listening to yourself and knowing yourself and then doing what you need to do to keep yourself feeling as well and balanced as possible – spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s also about learning to like and accept yourself too! 🙂 x
Like Jodie I don’t have children but I think the issue applies equally to career women with or without children. It just seems that women are wired to look after ourselves last. It has to stop but it isn’t easy. Sharing
I agree that you don’t need to have children to have this issue. It can apply also to your career and/or friendships/extended family etc etc. Thank you for sharing!
I think I concentrated on everyone else’s welfare because if I was busy and productive then I did not have to face up to the reality of caring for me. It has taken me to get cancer and to be fully retired for me to see how much others came first (and I admit in many cases I resented this inside) instead of taking (not selfishly either) time for me. I am sure I would have been less stressed if I had.
Food for thought, Min. Denyse #mlstl
I’m so glad you’re taking care of you now Denyse and I’m enjoying watching the journey and learning from you! Creativity, mindfulness and meditation seems to be a key factor in your journey of self-care and all of those are things I can completely relate to! xo
This is such a good read Min, I agree with your points and as my daughter is due to have her first baby any day soon I am keen to implore her not to neglect herself. I’m not sure how it will work but I’ll try hard!!
It’s my hope that the next generation of mothers learn from our mistakes and realise that self-care and taking time for themselves is not selfish but in fact good for everyone, not just themselves! How exciting that your daughter is having a baby soon. All the very best of luck to her and yourself! 🙂
Although I never had children, I’ve always been mothering someone, starting when my own mother and I role reversed when I was 12. I am now working toward looking out for me and enjoying my time more than I ever have, and it feels good. #MLSTL Brenda
I’m so good you’re looking out for you now Brenda and that it feels good. Keep at it! You deserve it! 🙂
Good for you, Min. You are worth it. We all are. I’m finally at 56 figuring that out. #MLSTL
Thank you Christie. I agree! Shame it took us a while to figure that out! xo
I’m on the very same journey as you. I wore myself out so much that I now have an autoimmune problem and have to take care of myself now! Blogging’s been a great outlet for me and I hope to find time to get back to the camera soon. #MLSTL
I have autoimmune problems too Marya! Funny how we both enjoy blogging and photography! All the best to you! 🙂 xo