The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Hey guys, thanks for joining us again on Risen Motherhood. This is episode two and we are talking about self-care today. I’m Emily Jensen and I’m here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Again, just to review what we talked about last time, motherhood in light of the gospel and in light of the resurrection of Christ and how that causes us to live in a light of eternity in all things. Not just trying to kill time to get to the end of the day with our kids, but really being thoughtful and letting our faith impact what we do, even in the mundane.
Self-care is an interesting topic. It can feel selfish sometimes. We want to make sure that we define what it is we’re talking about as we may not all be on the same page. Laura, can you share what it is we mean by self-care?
Laura: Yes, sure. When we talk about self-care, we’re talking about how moms can intentionally choose to fill up so that we can pour out to our families or be a blessing to other people in our lives. The biggest thing that I would say about self-care that differentiates it from other ways to spend our time is that it’s a proactive move that we do. It’s not reactive. It’s not like, “Oh, I’ve had such a hard day, and I’m just going to plop down on the couch and watch this TV show.” Instead, it’s saying, “I’m going to wake up early tomorrow morning and do something that fills me up.”
We’ll talk more in detail about how to find what fills you up, and what those things are but I think the biggest thing practically, as we look at self-care, is choosing to look ahead and plan ahead. That can be five minutes ahead or one year ahead, it's just thinking of ways that we can fill ourselves up so that we can continue to pour out.
Emily: I think spiritually, if we’re looking in light of the Bible, it talks about this as us being connected to the true vine. As we are connected to the vine, we are able to bear fruit and who is the vine? It’s Christ and so in our relationship with God, as we are walking in fellowship with Him and enjoying Him and we are praying some of these spiritual disciplines, praying and reading the word, we get filled up and the Holy Spirit then is able to work through us and it bears fruit in our lives.
I think that as moms, sometimes we can try to walk this road alone. What we are talking about with self-care is saying, “I can’t walk this road alone. I need Christ. I’m not going to make an eternal difference in my kids’ lives apart from Christ and apart from the Holy Spirit working in me so I need to do these things.”
Laura: Yes, and self-care has a huge spiritual aspect and it also has emotional and physical aspects, so I think there are three categories. As moms, we have to be looking at how we are filling ourselves up in all of those areas.
Emily: For me, there’s a daily aspect to it, a weekly or monthly aspect too, and then there’s a yearly. I feel like, the daily for me is very much, “How am I going to connect with the Lord today? How am I going to get some quiet and make sure that my mind and my heart are focused on the right things?” Daily might also include me choosing to eat an apple for a snack, and not a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup because I know that I’m going to feel like junk later. (Laughter)
As for the weekly part of it, I try to, every couple of weeks, get a little bit of time away from my family to go do something that is energizing for me, whether that would be coffee with a friend or writing. Then yearly for me, looks like getting away literally overnight from my family, and having some type of solitude retreat or having some type of weekend with girls or something just a little bit more extended.
There are some spiritual things, there are some practical things, but I really see that there is this rhythm for me. It’s not just, “Well, as long as I get a little tiny bit of time once every couple of months, I’m fine.” No. I need time every, single, day. I have to prioritize this or otherwise, I am just an empty vessel.
Laura: I think on our last show, we talked a little bit about how motherhood is often doing the hard thing, not the easy thing. For me, I will get to nap time and I am like, “I’m going to watch a show. I just deserve a break to zone out." I don’t want think about anything besides these million dollar homes on Million Dollar Decorators and just dreaming about what it would be like to live there.
Then if my kids wake up early, I feel like I haven’t had enough time and I have a bad attitude. But if I choose to do something first that fills me up more, which for me is writing on the blog or spending time in that space or maybe researching a topic I’m interested in, then if my kids wake up early, I don’t always feel like, “Oh my goodness, why are you awake? I feel like a piece of junk." Having that self-care isn’t necessarily a right, but trying to use that we have wisely is important.
Emily: I think it takes trial and error for each person. Everybody listening is probably going to have a different thing that they would say energizes them or helps them refuel their tank, probably depending on whether you’re an introvert or you’re an extrovert.
Some people are going to say, “I need to get alone by myself in order be filled up.” Some people are going to say, “Yes, I need to go out into a group and hang out and have fun and that fills me up.” I know it’s taken me a lot of practice and a lot of doing the wrong thing to figure out what the right thing is, because especially when I used to get some time away from the kids, I would go to Target and wander around the aisles. I just found that that makes me feel really gross at the end because I end up spending a lot of money buying stuff that I didn’t need. I personally don’t feel good at the end of that, but I know that there are other people that love to do that and they feel very energized and very calm after walking through Target. So I think it can be different for every woman and it is different.
Laura: Definitely. I think it’s important to plan that out. I think for me, half the battle - or half the fun - is planning ahead and then looking forward to it and saying, “This is time that I’m going to take intentionally.”
I have a husband that works a significant amount and so I wake up my kids, start the day, and many times, I put them to bed by myself. So for us, we started this thing we call “Selfie Saturdays.” I know that sounds kind of dumb but - I couldn’t think of a better name - where once a month, I would just have four hours on a Saturday morning to go out and do non-motherhood things. That could be anything from just going to a coffee shop or maybe it was going to finally buy some new jeans after I’d had a baby or whatever that was, I could do it but it didn’t have to be mom-related errands or business and things like that. That was really helpful for me to feel like, “Okay, I can make it through the week because I have this on Saturday" and I could plan ahead and save things for that time.
Also,I think a lot of times people think self-care has to be out of the home and it doesn't. It's both, but if it’s difficult for you to get out of the home, then plan ahead and talk with your husband about, “Hey, how can we make this work? Is it okay if I leave one Saturday morning a month and go do something that’s helpful for me?” My husband was completely on board. It wasn’t a situation where I was begging for him to let me go. He’s like, “Okay, yes, I totally get it.”
Emily: Yes and sometimes that’s just a conversation with our husband to explain how as moms, we are giving so much and our husbands, they want our emotional input and our children need our emotional input too. We have to get filled up somewhere in order to be able to give that back out. We’ve talked a little bit but even from a physical aspect: eating healthy and making sure we’re putting the right things in our body so that we have energy, making sure we’re living an active lifestyle. Everyone has a different level of what that means. For some people, it’s like going to the gym and having a sweat workout and for other people, it’s just making sure that your body is in good enough shape to get up and down off the floor with your kids alive. I feel like it’s a physical thing too. It’s caring about your body. I know that if I go too long eating junk food and things, that doesn’t help me either.
Laura: Yes, it’s interesting how self-care just takes up all facets of our life. On that spiritual side, what does it exactly mean to be connected to the true vine or when we say some of those Christian clichés, for lack of a better term, what does that look like practically?
For me, I wake up between five and six in the morning. I know some of you are going to completely croak at that but some of you are night owls. I can’t make it past 10:30 p.m.; I’m just a zombie. I wake up early and have found - and this is after my kids started sleeping better through the night as babies - but I wake up early to study God’s word.
Whether that’s doing my weekly Bible study or something that doing on my own or researching a topic that I’m interested in, I need that half hour chunk to just be in the Word: to pray and to set my day right - I don’t do this perfectly every morning, I am not like, “5 a.m. YAY! Quiet time!” It’s something that I’m choosing - to do the hard thing in the morning. To say, “First thing in the morning, I want to study my Bible and pray," so that throughout the day that is what’s on my mind as I’m working with the kids and disciplining and just talking - what goes in, is what comes out.
Or even going to church is self-care. That’s a weekly form of self-care of saying, “I’m going to put my kid in nursery,” because I think it can be hard. I had a hard time putting my kid in nursery. I don’t know Emily about you -
Emily: No, we send him. Put him in! (laughter) I know what you mean though.
Laura: (laughter) I think with my first, I had a hard time.
Emily: When it was my first time. I have to remember back to those days.
Laura: Yes, now I’m like, “Get him in there.” (laughter)
Laura: Yes, legitimate new mom fears. They’re real! But by putting your kid in nursery, that’s just a small example of saying, “Okay, I’m going to trust that they’re going to be fine in here, and I can spend time here at church actually listening and paying attention and not in the nursing mom’s room.” Choosing to take that time to fill up.
Emily: We need that time if we want to keep eternity in mind. I just remembered a story in the Bible. Moses has been up in the mountain and he’s been with God. He comes down and he’s glowing and he has to cover his face because the glory of God is reflecting off of him.
It’s just this example of when we spend time with God, we are going to reflect God and we are going to reflect His character and that’s really what we want to be doing to our families.
With our children, we want to reflect the character of God and able to tell them about the gospel, and tell them about the Bible and tell them about who He is. We cannot do that if we haven’t first been connected.
I know that in the morning, if I don’t get up early - and I don’t every single day - but if I don’t wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. to say, “What is my goal? What am I living for? Who am I in Christ?” If the very first thing I’m met with is, “Mommy, I need da da da da da,” then I just have a hard time sustaining that.
I’m sure that a lot of you guys can relate to that feeling. This is the type of stuff that we want to be talking about here on Risen Motherhood; the things that we are all struggling with and trying to understand how the gospel applies. I hope that this conversation has been helpful. I know that next week we are going to attempt to tackle postpartum body image, which is a huge topic so definitely tune into that. Then also remember that you can find show notes on our blogs, oaklandavenueblog.com and emilyjensenwrites.com. We’ll have some resources and some good articles that are pertaining to self-care that we’ve either written or we’ve found somewhere else.
Laura: Yes, you’ll definitely find the show notes there. We’ll have some things linked there and then if you can, we would really appreciate it if you guys would share this with someone who you think might benefit from it. Maybe someone who needs a little self-care in their life or you’ve seen has been struggling in that arena. I think one of our missions here, with Risen Motherhood, is to help facilitate conversations between you guys, outside of this. Hopefully, this can be a great conversation starter. Finally, subscribe and leave a review. That is a big deal for how iTunes allows people to find us so we would really appreciate that.
Join us next week as we talk about postpartum body image. Yikes, we are both pretty recently postpartum so it’s fresh for us. We are really excited to talk about that next week so we’ll talk to you guys soon.