Article #3, October 21, 2002
Putting Yourself First
Oprah’s theme for her show is “Live your best life”. Are you living yours? How can you if you’re feeling over-tired, overweight and/or generally overwhelmed?
If you’re trying to do it all, something will inevitably slip. Most often, it’s ourselves! We put our families and jobs first (not necessarily in that order) and just continue sacrificing ourselves out of habit. The truth is, we are better parents and better employees if we’re happy.
Yea but – who has time to take care of themselves? I suggest we find a way; no matter what it takes. A good place to start is in developing a support system. Are the in-laws sticking their noses where they don’t belong? Maybe they just want to feel needed. So, need them! Ask them to watch the kids one night per week or one weekend per month and tackle that to-do list. See the doctor; get that massage; go for a hike. If you don’t have family, build your own. Make friends with the other parents at the daycare or after-school program and trade childcare. Also, have a mom’s night out and a dad’s night out once a month each.
For those without children, a support group is just as important. Find reasons to get together. Having trouble making friends? Find an activity you love, and talk to people. Join the Sierra Club; volunteer at the local soup kitchen or teen center; take a night class. Your new community will naturally develop.
If you put in too many hours at work, start to cut it down gradually. Teach yourself to say no by starting with small requests. Is that promotion the most important thing in your life? Really? Long term, is that software or candy you’re developing more important than your life? Or would you be happier enjoying your life while you’re young? I often ask my clients to imagine they are 70 and they have their grandchild on their knee. The child asks for a story about when daddy was a little boy. What would the answer be? “Well little Tiffany, your Daddy spent most of his time with the nanny so Grandma could work 80 hours a week. You should have seen Grandma’s office!” OR: “Well little Tiffany, we were in boy scouts and rarely missed a meeting. We went camping and had all kinds of fun adventures!”
Here are some more tips:
- If you can afford it, pay someone else to do it.
- Change your priorities. There will be a day when your children no longer want to hang around with you – enjoy them while you can! Who cares if the house isn’t perfect?
- Move. If your life consists of spending all your time and money on your house, maybe you’re a candidate for renting or buying a condo. Imagine how relaxed you’ll be without having to worry about the property taxes or the plumbing!
- Take care of your health and get 8 hours of sleep.
- Have a manicure during your lunch hour
- Take your lunch hour!
- You only live once. Give yourself permission to enjoy it!