Last On The List

Taking care of yourself is not easy. It’s especially difficult when you have 2 kids and they are your priorities. Every day, I take a look at my calendar and it’s filled with everything I need to take my kids to or get done for my family. Currently, I’m using their nap time to write this post.

It’s more than likely that if you have kids, you get caught up in their daily lives. You keep taking your one step in front of another to realize that you have gone a while without doing anything for yourself.

It’s another type of downward spiral. If you keep putting yourself last, you’ll be (guess where?) last.

The funny thing is that my husband would tell me to take nights off and go write or go spend time with friends or go do whatever. But I feel/felt guilty. I feel like he is working so hard to take care of all of us. How can I just push more work onto him when he is finished with his actual work? How can I not be there for my kids just because I’m tired?

And the worst part is that if I choose not to take the break, I resent everyone else for it.

It took me a while to figure this out. I wasn’t a better person for putting everyone else first. I was angry that I never got to do anything for myself. I was angry that I felt unimportant to everyone else. I wasn’t happy. Basically, I felt like my kids’ maid and that was all I was good for.

This wasn’t going to change without me putting in some effort. Obviously, the kids need me. Obviously, I need to do my part in helping the household function. So it involved some thought and practice on changing the way my life was scheduled.

Now, I wake up early to exercise so I can’t blame anyone else for missing a workout. The days I don’t is because I prioritize sleep since that is what my body needs that day. I’ve been making plans with people and not feeling guilty about it. Even if that little seed of doubt enters my mind, I try to make it leave because really, I’m a better wife and mom because I do take the break.

We try to go out on weekly or semi-monthly dates. I used to feel guilty about leaving my kids with their grandparents but I’ve realized that they all seem to be having fun so what am I feeling guilty about? I might as well have fun too.

And I’m loving writing again. It took me a while to get back into this because I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that my mind became super blocked. The thought of putting words down started feeling overwhelming. I kept pushing it off until I couldn’t anymore. I enjoy doing this. So I have added it to the list of things I want to do for myself.

There are 100 other things that I’d love to add to that list and maybe as my kids get older, I can. But, for now, finding some way, any way to do something for myself that I look forward to on a daily basis is enough.

Taking On Too Much Responsibility

Being a good Indian kid means that you’re responsible for everything, right? If the family needs something, you’re the one who will handle it. If your friends needs something, you’re the one who goes out of their way. If your work needs something, well, we’ll live at the office, right?

Hold on. This life sounds stressful and very unfulfilling. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to help others out. I think it’s a great thing. But what if it gets to the point where it’s just unrealistic? What if it gets to the point where you resent the people asking you for things and don’t even want to talk to them anymore?

What if it gets to the point where you don’t recognize yourself and you don’t know how to make yourself happy anymore?

I think there are a lot of people who take on too much responsibility. We sit there and try to do things because we feel like we should. We feel guilty putting ourselves and our health first. We need to learn to let things go and let others take care of themselves.

I used to get stressed out because a friend of mine had a lot of problems with his own family. I used to take that stress onto myself and try to find a solution to help him. The end result would be that nothing would change because he himself didn’t want to change anything. I had to learn to step away from that situation. I could be there as a friend and listen and offer my advice but that was it. It was not my responsibility to fix his relationships. It was my responsibility to be a good friend and be there when he needed me.

It’s hard to let go sometimes because we feel like we should be helping when someone needs it. But what if they don’t need it? What if they just choose not to do it and that leaves you feeling like you should be taking care of what they are responsible for? My sister just came to me and asked me to take a look at her resume so she can start looking for jobs. I accept that as something I would want to do for her. But if she needs to find a job and expects me to find it for her, then it’s a sign that I need to step away from the situation. It is clearly her responsibility and while I have no problem helping, I do not want to baby her and handle it for her.

This is just one example (and she just asked me to take a look at her resume; she wouldn’t ask me to find her a job) but I see similar occurrences in different places.

We need to learn where our responsibility and willingness to help starts and stops. Otherwise, we’ll drive ourselves crazy. Who would we be able to help then?