It’s a few days away from Mother’s Day and I’m mentally scanning if I mailed the cards in time, ordered the xxx for my mom, what is the time difference to make sure I call California on Sunday at a reasonable hour. I’m shoveling in my lunch so that I can have a few minutes to cram in some work, possibly even a short yoga workout, and bake the banana-oat muffins for tomorrow’s play group when it occurs to me that I am now a mother too. My days are spent making oatmeal and pouring yet another glass of milk/water/non-caffeinated tea (!) and coaxing my daughter to eat a few more bites of salmon at dinner and doing laundry and cleaning up and putting away and — what am I doing to nurture myself on a regular basis?
When your kids are small I think it’s so hard to squeeze in a bit of time to do the things that you love to do, that make you you, to take care of yourself in little ways — and yet it is beyond essential to do this. While my current lifestyle does not allow for much freedom of movement — I can’t just drive off for a quick trip to the grocery store or yoga class (or even attend a yoga class for that matter) or go for a quiet walk on the beach — I try to make sure I get in a few solo runs a week, or a coffee with a friend, or simply cadge an extra hour to sleep in til 7am. This restores me and leaves me feeling more balanced, as though I haven’t given up my entire identity in the rushrushrush that often encompasses life with a toddler. I’m fortunate that I have a partner who recognizes that I do need a little more than the few hours during nap or after bedtime and when schedules allow I am able to take it.
Another way I take care of myself, and of the three of us of course, is through food. Yes, there is a lot of baking and not always with natural sweeteners. Yes, there is the occasional ordering-in of pizza or a veggie burger from the halfway decent embassy restaurant when we’re at the pool. But on the whole I try to cook thoughtful, well-rounded and balanced meals that will fuel us through the end of the evening and beyond.
As a vegetarian I incorporate a lot of vegetables into lunches and dinners, and because of it I swear I have the energy to survive our recent and consistent 5 am wake ups. Soups of kale or spinach and broccoli and a potato or loaded vegetable are a standard lunch, sometimes with a handful of quinoa mixed in. Dinners are often brown rice or quinoa with tofu and asparagus or roasted vegetables and chickpeas or peanut noodles or homemade vegan veggie burgers topped with avocado and served with with baked sweet potato fries or big salads or roasted beets topped with tahini and sunflower seeds with more quinoa or millet underneath.
This last is what I’ll make for myself when I’m flying solo – my husband not being a big fan of beets – and I’ll eat it for dinner and then lunch a few days running. It soothes my soul on an inexplicable level; I know that with this hearty bowl of plant-based goodness I am nourishing my body and being good to myself even if I haven’t managed much more than a minute of alone time all day.
(In the interest of full disclosure I’m also thinking about enforcing a really early bedtime tonight and then making a batch of whole grain salted chocolate chip cookies because I believe in balance in all things.)
Of course we must take the time to nourish and nurture ourselves regardless of whether children are ever-present in our lives. When I lived alone I’d often treat myself to a Saturday night of listening to my favorite radio station and opening a new book with a little stack of cookies and a cup of tea, particularly after a long work week. It felt so decadent to take the time to take time, and would tuck myself into bed on the early side so I would be sure to get a lot of sleep. Such a tiny thing, but it filled me up enough to carry me through the busy hours that awaited me come Monday morning.
I hope you can steal a few hours for yourself this week, to do whatever it is that soothes you and makes you feel like yourself. Cake and vegetables not required, but recommended.
This is such a simple recipe it’s not even really a recipe. I roast or steam a bunch of beets and cut them up into quarters or eighths. I make quinoa — usually at least a cup and a half at a time so I always have some stashed in the fridge — and put a goodly amount in a bowl, top with a lot of the beets, drizzle with tahini and a bit of salt, and finish with sunflower seeds. A splash of soy sauce would not go amiss and swapping brown rice for the quinoa would be fine. A squeeze of lemon, too? Sure thing.