Raising a family and running a household requires a lot of work, doesn’t it? The to-do list is often never-ending. When you combine that with work, church, school, and extra-curricular activities, the days and weeks are full.
I notice that the busier our days are, the easier it is for us to neglect important aspects of self-care. As a parent, I often push aside exercise, hobbies, going out with friends or date night with my husband because there’s so much going on. When we have a free evening, we often want to camp out on the couch and do nothing. It seems like so much extra work to make time for doing these things for myself.
I used to feel guilty about needing time alone because it took time away from my family. But here’s what I’ve learned: self-care is important. The longer we neglect it, the more burnt out and frustrated we will become. That doesn’t serve our family well, does it?
As parents we are constantly pouring out into our families. But we can’t pour anything out of an empty cup. We must seek times of refreshment and self-care so that we can fill up our own cups to be able to care for our spouse and kiddos. We’re better versions of ourselves and better parents when we are taking care of ourselves well.
Philippians 2:4 NASB says, “. . . do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Paul assumes we are already looking out for our own interests and he reminds us to also look out for the interests of others. Moms and dads are often looking out for the interests of their kids to the extent that they often forget to look at their own interests. God wants us to care for both.
Pull out a journal and a calendar and ask yourself these questions:
- Which aspects of my self-care have I neglected?
- Spiritual: church attendance, community, quiet time with God
- Physical: sleep, exercise, nutrition
- Relational: marriage, friends, community
- When and where can I make time for some of these needs?
- What do I need to cut out of my/our schedule to make my own self-care a priority?
- How can my spouse and I each help each other get regular time away to refuel?
During His years of ministry on earth, Jesus often withdrew to quiet places away from the crowds to pray and hear from His Father. He modeled for us the importance of taking time and space to breathe and pray. He wasn’t being selfish, He was refueling for the continued work of His ministry. We would be wise to do the same.