Reading For Mom Brains
It is time to grow up. Those are the words my self has been whispering to me.
It is time to grow up.
I've got two kids, a relationship, and a business. I thought I had.
GROW. UP. The whispers get louder.
My astrologically minded friends tell me this is Saturn in Capricorn. My therapist friends tell me this is part of my healing process. My mom friends say it is all about me coming out of the fog of newborn/baby/toddlerhood, that I have maturity on the brain.
I think this is actually about deepening my self-care practice. I take care of my children, my house, my family. But when it comes to my business, my body, my emotions, I scramble around putting out fires instead of nurturing the slow and steady growth that I want.
So I guess it is time to finally grow up. All the way up. It is time to work on becoming a healthy adult who cares for herself fully.
I'm a nerd, so the first thing I did was reach for a book, three books actually. There's nothing new about this. I read - A LOT. And I happen to read a lot of self-help and personal growth books as a consequence of my profession. I read them like a miner panning for gold. I'm looking for the words, phrases, and ideas that will help the mothers I work with the most.
Yesterday I decided that I would read only for myself.
Sunday in our house is a "home day". We don't go anywhere and Adam and I both try our best not to work. It's a day of transition when we focus on getting ready for the week ahead and resting up from whatever fun we had on Saturday. So, while one kiddo napped and the other worked on Legos with dad I got myself set up in the bathroom for some me time. I ran a bath, dropped in a fabulous smelling bomb, laid out my books and settled in for some quiet time to focus my mind.
The first book was great. Interesting, and engagingly written - it had practical exercises sprinkled in amongst the mindset shifts and spiritual connection. I should have loved it. But I couldn't concentrate.
There were ideas that could so easily be adapted to use with kids and my mind started wandering to how I could be a better mother. I pulled it back in only to find another nugget that one of my clients really needed to read. I refocused and there was a great exercise that I could add to the Resource section of The Mom Center.
"I am so used to giving to others that the act of focusing on myself feels foreign to me. It takes work. I have to fight against all of my natural inclinations.
I wasn't getting anything out of this book FOR ME. And it wasn't because there weren't wonderful ideas in the book, it was because I am so used to giving to others that the act of focusing on myself feels foreign to me. It takes work. I have to fight against all of my natural inclinations.
Or do I?
I switched books and the same thing happened. My frustration mounted. I put everything down, sat back in the bath and drank my water. I counted my breaths in and out and waited for my mind to calm with the idea that I'd enjoy the water until it cooled, then get out and try reading later that night once the kids were asleep.
That's when the idea hit me.
The problem is that I haven't trained my brain to think about myself. My brain automatically keeps my family and my clients at the top of my priority list. I wasn't going to be able to fix that by waiting until the kids were in bed. I have to fix it by retraining my brain. And just like it took time for my brain to get like this, it will take time to change it.
Am I worth that kind of work? That amount of time? It will probably be annoying and frustrating. Am I worth it?
YES (and so are you).
Here is how I'm retraining my brain:
I have tucked a few sheets of looseleaf notebook paper into the back of the books I'm reading. When I come to an idea that makes me think of my family or my work I stop and note down on the paper the page and line where the inspiration struck and a quick note about the idea. Then I stop and take a breath and refocus myself ON MYSELF before I start reading again.
I don't have to worry about remembering the ideas. I don't get lost going down an inspiration rabbit hole. I don't lose focus on myself.
Or rather, I continually REfocus on myself.
I'm teaching my brain that I am just as important as my children, as Adam, as my clients. I'm teaching my brain that spending time on myself isn't a waste - it's a priority. I'm redefining what it means for me to grow up but taking control of and responsibility for my growth.
I'm also enjoying the books I'm reading again. The reading is flowing again and more and more the ah-ha moments that pop up are about me. It feels wonderful to connect with a book this way. I'm loving this.
How about you? Where have you trained your brain to put yourself last? What could you do to retrain it? Leave me a comment - I'd love to hear your ideas!
If you're ready to do work like this regularly, to really shift your focus to yourself and get the support that you need to do that, I invite you to join us inside The Mom Center.