There is an affection in every employment, and it strains the mind, and keeps it intent upon its work or study. This, if it be not relaxed, becomes dull, and its desire flags, as salt that has lost its savor, so that it has no pungency or relish; or as a bended [bow], which, unless it be unbent, loses the power that it derives from its elasticity. Just so the mind, kept from day to day in the same ideas, without variety (Charity 190).
As a busy mom of young children, my windows of free time are rare and of varying and unpredictable lengths. Sometimes I am given the precious gift of “me time” and instead of seizing it with glee, I panic. I look at this glimmering opportunity and feel paralyzed with the fear of wasting it. Then I wind up realizing that fear by wasting my time trying to decide what I should do instead of actually doing something. Does this sound familiar?
I find that the hells love to exploit these opportunities by tangling my healthy wants and needs in a web of coulds, woulds, shoulds, and what ifs. The Lord clearly wants us to be happy and to have moments in which to recharge so that we can best serve the uses He has in mind for us. But the hells like to make us feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. They call us selfish. They call us lazy. They distract us with our never-ending to do lists. They point to the ticking clock and play the Jeopardy theme music in our heads, reminding us that this opportunity is fleeting so we had better come up with something amazing to do NOW. The overwhelming tangle can get so sticky that I often end up just doing a typical chore or mindlessly scrolling through my social media feed or rewatching some silly show instead of doing anything that actually refreshes me.
In response to this frustrating trap, a number of years ago I compiled a list of self-care suggestions and shared them with a group of moms on Facebook. The idea of the self-care list was to help combat the paralysis that can thwart free time and provide a variety of options—from extravagant outings that require significant chunks of time, planning, and perhaps money—to simple acts of relaxation and pleasure like making a cup of tea or tackling a rare, but satisfying chore. You simply look at the list, choose something that fits the amount of time, energy, and resources you have and then make it happen.
As I sat down to write this article, I realized that it has been a long time since I looked at the list and that perhaps it was time to revisit it, add to it, and share it with a broader audience. Besides, you don’t have to be a mom to be a very busy woman and we all can use whatever support we can get. Some of these ideas are geared towards mothers, but I think they can inspire any one of us.
So here is a list of options for things to do to recharge yourself when you’re given a precious window of free time. Some things are deliciously frivolous and some are to dos that we rarely get around to but would love to accomplish. The list is by no means exhaustive. In fact, I would really love to make it a living document where other women can add their suggestions. If you feel so inclined, please comment with your ideas and impressions and I will add them to the list and continue to share it from time to time. I hope it helps you recharge and continue to serve the wonderful uses for which the Lord created you.
SELF CARE (staying in)
Create! (play an instrument, paint, draw, write, sing…make something!)
Remove nail polish/paint nails/trim nails
Bleach or pluck any hair that needs it
Take a shower
Take a bath
Take a nap
Make a hot beverage and drink it. While it’s still hot.
Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in a while (maybe keep a running list of people you would like to get back in touch with so you don’t blank on who to call when you have the chance)
Write a letter
Watch a grownup TV show or movie
Read a book
Blast your favorite music and sing and dance
Read the Word
Bake your favorite treat (mug cakes are a great option if you’re short on time)
SELF CARE (going out)
Get a hair cut
Get a massage
Go try on shoes or clothes and maybe even buy yourself something
Go for a drive
Go see a movie you’ve been wanting to see
Go buy a tasty treat
Attend a drop-in class (dance, yoga, painting, etc)
Go to a tea room and enjoy a fancy pot of tea and some treats
Go to a store and really enjoy just browsing
Go to a park or playground and do what YOU want while there
Drop off/pick up dry cleaning
Drop off batteries and such to appropriate collection sites
Drop off thrift store or food bank donations
Dust your own room
Vacuum your own room
Dust ceiling fans. Or you know…just dust in general.
Purge kitchen/household items
Clean the bathroom. Even the tub and floor. (Am I the only one who often skips these?)
Weed your garden
Vacuum under furniture and cushions
Mend the broken things that have been lying around forever (clothes, toys, etc)
Weed out unwanted digital photos
Order photo prints/books
Tackle that DIY project you bought supplies for and never finished
Look at all of the links, posts and videos you’ve saved on Facebook
Change batteries where needed
Change water filter
Clean out car
Make that appointment that you’ve been putting off (dentist, car repair, doctor, etc.)
Lift some weights
YouTube Workout videos (don’t just watch…you actually have to do them too)