Lessons from my toddler for healthy living

What my toddler needs for healthy growth and development:

  1. Calcium, protein and iron, although he only eats what he wants to eat at the end of the week his diet is balanced.
  2. Rest (8+ hours of sleep and naps)
  3. Fresh air (time playing outside)
  4. Brain stimulation (puzzles, exploring, satisfying his curiosity)
  5. Love, lots of unconditional love, positive regard, and positive feedback

Add good red wine + ice cream to that and I think that’s the recipe for what we adults can also use to be healthy and happy….maybe….

It’s my birthday. I’m 25 years old (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!). Anyway…I make resolutions on my birthday instead of on New Year’s Eve/Day because my b-day happens to come at the end of the academic year (and as a teacher that’s significant); New Year’s comes in the middle of a bunch of holidays and celebrations (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Wedding Anniversary, other birthdays, Easter….) and it’s too confusing to think clearly; and it’s cliché to make resolutions on New Years that I then don’t remember/keep.  So inspired by my toddler, here are my birthday resolutions:

  1. Do what I want and I know is right for me. My toddler has no clear concept of other people’s feelings yet, although he is able to read emotions and moods; so he does what he wants, when he wants and stops when it seems to not make someone else feel o.k.
  2. Say “no” more often. My toddler says “no” and laughs, but means it when he says “no” and I’m learning to hear him and respect him. It works for us…not so much for daddy…
  3. Get more fresh air. I’ve never been much of an outdoors-type of girl, but I can definitely take a walk once in a while, sit outside and eat my lunch and take my toddler for a walk or play with hi outside which will also benefit me.
  4. Advocate for myself. My toddler always tells me what he wants/needs – “no,” “up,” “down,” “outside,” “more,” etc. It is simple language and I get it. I can do the same for myself with my employer, my doctors, friends, family, and hubby!
  5. Eat and not worry. It all balances out at the end of the week.
  6. Love and laugh! He does that, I think, without thinking about it and so can I.
  7. Drink wine and eat ice cream. This does not need an explanation…

Sevenm is more than enough because tomorrow when my red wine buzz wears off I probably will only remember “do what I want”

Women and Self-care (or lack thereof)

This is somewhat about the life-work balance, which came to a head for me because I recently had to stay home and rest after a medical emergency.  I realized that even when sick or unable to go to work I am still unable to find that balance.  Since hubby works full-time outside of the house and the boy child goes to day care it was a potentially nice opportunity to breathe, relax, reflect, and maybe meditate in quiet stillness…Yea right!

I’m a social worker by training and I now teach future social workers. One of the most important things that we preach is “self-care.”  You cannot help and take care of others if you do not take care of yourself.  I just gave my dad this lecture as I practically forced him to get help in taking care of my mom.  This is true not just for social workers, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists (highest suicide rate), teachers, police officers, firefighters, EMTs…but especially true for moms and wives. Right before giving birth, all of my mommy friends said “sleep when the baby sleeps,” which I did not do because there were 100 other things to do – even with friends and family helping and that’s a pattern that persists.

Knowing that self-care is important for physical and mental well-being, I spent my bed rest time:

  1. Emailing colleagues and students
  2. Reading rough drafts of final papers
  3. Preparing lectures for the final week of class
  4. Feeling guilty that I missed committee meetings and scholarship interviews
  5. Making dinner (albeit in the crockpot)
  6. Doing laundry and washing dishes
  7. Feeling guilty that I wasn’t resting

Part of the issue is that I was not raised to sit still. I was raised to take care of myself (get hair and nails done, get regular physical check-ups, have dinner with friends, see funny movies, exercise, eat well, etc.). My mom would literally “run away” for a weekend to engage in self-care (we had a nanny so that helped some).  But just laying around and healing seems like a frivolous privilege I should not take….this is THE problem with many women I know.  Either guilt or boredom or need to control how/when things are done, or…is it really how our society has shaped and programmed us? Americans and especially American women need to do better at slowing down and caring for self.  I might start a petition to get a national siesta instituted, which may help us on the road to being healthier…maybe.

Just STOP, SAY NO (or “not now”), seek & follow good advice on self-care, receive help when offered.

So maybe I’m in denial, delusional, or maybe I’m turning into my grandmother (a stereotypical woman of the 50s and 60s who always put others before herself), but part of my joy and self-care come in caring for our son and seeing him happy, holding him before bed, and cuddling him.  When my baby or my husband eat all the food on their plates and smiles, when they smile at me or hug me I feel cared for and am at peace. So maybe step 1 to self-care is feeling loved by family….still trying to figure out that balance thing…even when sick….UGH!