It was 7pm and my 6-year-old was in the middle of her 20 millionth meltdown of the day. (Or at least, it darn well FELT like that many!)
I suggested she take a bath and get ready for bed—to which she responded like I had suggested we pull out some teeth just for the heck of it!
I looked at her tear-stained face and her giant, red-brimmed hazel eyes and had this sudden moment of clarity…
“Hey Quinn!” I said, with considerably more energy in my voice than I’d had a minute before. “You know what you need? A ‘taking care of Quinn’ night.”
“A what?” she asked, perking up almost imperceptibly.
“Well, when I’m having a rough day, I like to take extra good care of myself at bedtime. I turn on some music… have a bath… maybe do a face mask… Would you like to do that? I always feel so much better after.”
My daughter nodded vigorously.
So that night, we did almost exactly what we would have done had it been any other night: I gave her a bath and got her ready for bed.
But this time, we added a few special touches and really sank into the spirit of it, rather than rushing through.
I turned on some Enya (I mean, who else?!), lowered the lights, and gave her a palm-full of body wash, acting like it was liquid gold given to us by the Pharaoh’s queen. I told her to lean back, relax, and think about the good things in her life.
(PS. There’s something about watching your child bliss out to Enya that will just MAKE YOUR DAY.)
Twenty minutes later, she came out of that bath a different person.
Gone were the meltdowns and the life-is-so-unfair attitude. In their place? A warm-bodied, cheerful 6-year-old who went down for the night easier than she has in weeks.
A 20-minute dose of self-care completely turned my girl’s night around.
I’d say I was surprised, but really? I wasn’t.
I wasn’t surprised because a dose of self-care does exactly the same thing for me. Give me a few intentional minutes of journaling, walking outside, soaking in a bath, doodling to music, or reading purely for fun and I am NOT the same version of me that I was just minutes before.
I’ve come to believe that self-care isn’t about duration; it’s about frequency.
You don’t necessarily need a 90-minute massage, a half-day spa-treatment, a full night out with friends, or a weekend away with your spouse. (Not that I recommend turning any of those down!)
What you need are small, consistent acts of self-compassion, threaded throughout the days and weeks that make up your life.
- Three deep breaths.
- A gentle mantra repeated in your head.
- A 20-minute jog.
- A hug.
- A mindful walk around the block while on your lunch break.
- Ten minutes of reading some quality fiction rather than scrolling on your phone.
- A hot drink held in two hands.
- Accepting your flaws while gently challenging yourself to grow.
- Forgiving yourself when you’ve made a mistake.
- Holding your self-worth above all else.
The next time you’re tempted to think that you don’t have time for “self-care,” push back on this thought. Challenge yourself to believe that self-care isn’t so much a practice that takes time as a practice that takes persistence.
It’s a way of thinking—even more than it’s a list of things to do.
In a thousand tiny ways, give yourself the respect, compassion, and care that will allow you to pour back out to the people you love.
Discover Your Purpose
One of the best forms of self-care that I know of is to uncover your purpose in this season. I’d love for you to download my free worksheet—
While you’re here, I’d love to hear—What does self-care look like for you today? What is it that you need to offer yourself?
Thank you. What you shared brought so much clarity, motivation, hope and joy into my life. I wanted to share a precious and somewhat similar experience I had.
This sentence of yours reminded me of the experience I’ve had:
”we added a few special touches and really sank into the spirit of it, rather than rushing through”
I was diagnosed with ”a depressive episode” and as I was doing some self-help I came across a video that made so much difference in my life. It wasn’t a video about depression. It was a basic self-care video, basic personal hygiene actually. As I was watching a woman gently washing her face mentioning luke-warm water, soap on her face, tapping her face with a soft towel…The whole process was soft, warm, gentle, loving and it so clearly contrasted with how harsh I’d been with my self. This woman was caring for her self, she is loving her self.
It never left me, this question the video sparked in my head: why don’t I make any and every act of basic hygiene and self-care a gentle and kind act of love, and not just another to-do thing to rush through so I can get on with my day?
Of course I am not in this state every time, we are only humans 😀
but many times just brushing my hair or teeth is such an act of gentle and kind self-love. Sometimes I even talk to parts of the body I’m caring for in that moment. (I’d say that ‘now we’ll do a nice massage for you” to my teeth and to my self, before brushing my teeth; and I’d enjoy the process)
It’s basically what you’ve written: it’s doing the same routine, but ”just adding a few special touches and really sinking into the spirit of it, rather than rushing through”
It’s been many years now since I’ve seen that video but it has never left me; it’s unbelievable that our every day routines can be turned into life-changing magic if we change our intent. We do it anyways, it’s all the same, it’s not some extra effort. The intention is the only thing that changed. I am approaching it from a different place now.
I wanted to share this with you hoping it might be useful to someone.
I have learned over the past 6 years since my divorce how to self care, that it’s my responsibility,( not to expect anyone else to do it because they won’t (why I was so dried up) ), and what it means to me. Although I’m still learning, for me I have found it to mean enough sleep, seeing a doctor when needed, taking a day off work when needed, baths, drawing, playing on my iPad creatively with photos digital scrapbooking, creative drawing / coloring by hand, closing my eyes with a few deep breaths, post I’ve self talk caring and compassionate (have learned not to be so hard on myself) I expected so much of myself and this expected the same from others – neither is achievable- I’ve let it go
I’m now ok with mistakes and that it’s a lesson of what not to do the next time …..thank you for your post ❤️