Self-care is a really hot topic these days. I’m thankful that people, especially women, understand how critical taking care of ourselves is to wellness. I wasn’t an easy convert. When self-care first became a top of mind subject, it felt like a buzzword type of thing. It was merely a bandwagon that everyone was jumping on. I don’t particularly care for bubble baths, and pedicures don’t rock my world that hard, so I kind of dismissed it.
Then women who truly understand the practice of self-care started educating the masses on the deeper implication of focusing on our whole being. They opened up the definition and clarified that self-care would look different for everyone. Many of these new age experts gave examples of how healing and growth comes from intentionally taking care of our mental, physical, and spiritual health. That’s when I started to get it.
Now, I’m all about doing whatever I need to be well in my life. That means I drink water, get adequate rest, and am altogether in tune with what my mind and body need from me at most times.
Being that mindful is a gift, and it’s one that I believe is incredibly important to pass along to my daughter.
Of all of the traits that I passed along to my daughter, the one that I wish she hadn’t inherited is how I physically manifest anxiety. When I get stressed out or nervous about something, I feel it in my stomach. Sometimes I get sick, other times I double over in pain from the tension. My daughter’s feelings all live in her belly, too.
A few years ago, there was a small fire near our home. Although it was contained immediately, and no one was hurt, Ayva was terrified. She was sick all night, and had to stay home from school the next day because of stomach pains. Other situations that put her on edge have played out the same way.
As my daughter gets older, I want to make sure she has some tools for self-care to be able to make sure she’s okay for herself. We don’t have to wait until a girl grows up to have a body filled with anxiety and stress to teach her about self-care. This is a life skill, a critical life skill, that we have to start teaching early on.
1. Verbal check-in
Every day, have an intentional check-in about how she’s feeling and also about how you’re doing. These conversations should be pointed and direct, simply, “Checking in—how do you feel today?” Don’t let her get away with just saying fine. Teach her to express different emotions, from being content to feeling stressed out.
2. Schedule down days
If your daughter has a schedule like mine, you’re likely on the go all the time. Between all of her activities, there is rarely time to take a breath! Schedule time in your schedule for “down days” or periods of time when you don’t do anything. You can lay in bed and watch movies all day, or choose to spend your day at the park. Whatever you do, it happens at your leisure. These days give the two of you time to reset, and stop you from being overwhelmed.
3. Eat good food
My daughter is in charge of dinner one night a week, so we’ve had a lot of discussions about the power of food. She knows that the right meal can give us energy, help us think more clearly, and be in a better mood overall. I’ve taught her that picking a pear over a bag of candy can be an act of self-care because I’m choosing to have an afternoon where I’m energetic and happy, rather than tired from a sugar crash.
4. Take time to break down personal hygiene
Whether it’s hair day where we’re deep conditioning and detangling, or we’re trying out a new deodorant or face mask, personal hygiene is absolutely a form of self-care. When you’re teaching your daughter how to care for her body, talk to her about different lotions and soaps and how the skin reacts to them. Tell her why certain shampoos and conditioners make her hair soft while others make her scalp flaky. A lot of girls go years of doing the best they can with personal hygiene, but struggle with issues like eczema and dandruff because no one talked to them about how to really take care of that part of themselves.
5. Find good times together
Focusing on self-care with your daughter is wonderful because you have a built-in accountability partner. That means you also have a built-in roadie! Go out of your way to find fun with your daughter. It could be that you’re at home watching a funny movie and cracking up together, or you’re splashing each other at the local pool. Show her that self-care is also doing things that make her feel happy.
Raising a child who is mindful and content is self-care for me. When she thrives, I’m at peace. I wish I knew about self-care and had put it into practice when I was younger. It certainly would have made for a more pleasant young adult experience. But, I know now. And I can teach my daughter.