Wherein Brianna discusses one of her own major breakthroughs around self-care, and began the journey of overcoming self-care guilt.
I’m going to say it. Grocery shopping with children is an ordeal. It is a Herculean task. In the Hero’s Journey of your week, it is the trip to the Underworld. Anyone who has never had occasion to shop with children (and not just young children, either) might think I am exaggerating. Anyone who has attempted to purchase more than a gallon of milk with a child in tow will agree that my words have the profound ring of Truth in them.
We’ve been talking about self-care, and I’m going to tell you today about one of my biggest breakthroughs in self-care. I used to feel super guilty about doing things that were pleasant for only me, or were especially convenient for only me. I started getting over it a little bit when I was pregnant. When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you to take care of yourself, because taking care of the baby IS taking care of you. Then I had the baby and I had to confront the grocery store. The hazards!
Grocery Shopping with Kids- for real
First, you have to get everything you need into this one little cart, with the baby carrier in the cart. Did you know you aren’t supposed to set those things up in the seating area of the cart?! I didn’t! Then you have to get through before your baby moves on to the next part of their day and is furious that you aren’t ready, too. When you check out you have to maneuver your baby and groceries into a new cart, as many stores are now becoming (almost) irritatingly efficient that way. Then you load your food into the car and...what’s next? Oh, this is a shockingly heated debate on the internet. Do you leave the baby in the car to put the cart away, risking some nosey fellow shopper snapping a picture of your license plate and blowing you in to child protective services for leaving your baby in the car? Bring the baby with you to put the cart in a cart return, and then lug the car seat 50 leagues across the parking lot, exposing your baby to sleet and rain (probably) on your way back to the car? Don’t bother putting the cart away, and leave it there, like a jerk? Then you get home and have to lug all the groceries in, trying to put them all away before they start to spoil in the car or your toddler starts eating the raw eggs straight from the carton (maybe based on a true story). Toddler shopping is worse, because tantrums. And other stages are difficult, too, for their own special reasons (every age group has IT foods. Yours might be avocado or caramel macchiatos. Your kid’s is probably Lunchables or something that has no business tasting like pizza, but nevertheless does).
How can that be self-care?
So what does grocery shopping in the depths of Heck have to do with self-care? Nothing at all. But getting someone else to do your grocery shopping for you has everything to do with it. I’m not going to promote any one method of getting this done; you have to crunch the numbers and decide which option is best for your family. I discovered the blessing that is grocery pick-up when Monkey was a newborn. For $7 (it’s even cheaper where we live now!), I could submit an order and pay for it when some nice lady brought it out to me in their special, covered curbside pick-up area. When she saw I had a baby with me, she gave me a coupon code that would waive the $7 fee for the next three months! I almost cried. And that’s when I realized how much this service meant to me.
By having someone else do the running around the store, everything was easier. I could shop while the baby napped or did tummy time. Then we’d leave the house for less than half an hour and get all the food we’d need for the next ten days. I didn’t have an internal debate in the parking lot. I stayed on budget with fewer impulse buys. I got freebies as a perk of using the new service. I started looking forward to this little outing, rather than dreading the trip. My husband came home and was able to help me out, and suddenly he got it. He understood the time saved and the stress relieved by using a grocery pick-up service.
I finally connect the dots
Walmart announced that they would begin offering grocery pick-up and delivery, and a friend from high school commented by asking how lazy a person had to be to use such a service. My husband called him an idiot. And then I got it. Getting someone else to grocery shop for you is worth it. By which I mean, I am worth it. My mental health is worth it. My baby didn’t especially care one way or the other (in fact now that she’s a toddler, she gets a bit upset when we go to the store without entering), but it meant a lot to me, and so it meant a lot to my family. That’s when I started asking myself what else I could take on for myself, or let someone else take on for me, in the name of self-care. Could I sometimes make a dinner that I knew wasn’t a favorite of my toddler and husband, just because I love it? Yes, I could, and they ate it. Could I tell calling family that I needed to get off the phone so I could load the dishwasher and read a book during nap time? Yes, I could, and they still call. Could I let my little girl shout at me from her bedroom in the morning for a couple more minutes so I can make my bed and feel good about that the rest of the day? Yes, I can, and she’s really quite all right.
Self-care means a few, specific things (my favorite is being a good mom to yourself, for your own sake), but it can mean any number of actual tasks. It means general maintenance and investment in your own well-being, but that means something different from person to person, and even from year to year. Besides generally working on not feeling guilty about self-care, there are other things I’m working on. I’m still getting the hang of letting/making myself do the things that will benefit me more in the long term than the short, but I’m getting there.
For instance, skipping the dishes to play with your kid is great...once in a while. But I should probably put that very un-fun task up a little higher on the priority list so that I’m not scrambling for breakfast dishes every few days. Ditto laundry. Those are strange tasks in the self-care realm. You have to put your family and yourself second in the short term, in order to put all of you first in the long term. I might make myself an unpleasant self-care chore chart. Because I’m trying to be a good mom to myself, and good moms make you do things that are good for you, even when they aren’t fun. Once I’m finally feeling good about taking care of myself and doing a better job of keeping us all laundered, I’ll start to focus on other areas. Your self-care might start with evaluating the relationships in your life, eating avocados on Saturday mornings while you watch cartoons, or ridding your closet of clothes you don’t wear anymore. It’s so different for everyone, but for me it’s sometimes letting someone else get the darn groceries.
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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