Ep. 03: What If I Don’t Have Time For Self Care?

February 8, 2021

It’s my first solo episode — that’s right, just me on this one!

As a reminder, one week we’ll have a guest on for an in depth conversation and then the following week I’ll highlight a common struggle I have seen come up between moms and entrepreneurs. The topic will be based on the discussion I had with the guest a week prior — though to be honest it may not always be, because your girl has had many struggles, so has LOTS of topics!

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03. What If I Don’t Have Time For Self Care?

The trend of self-care is EVERYWHERE. I swear every influencer, CEO and entrepreneur is lecturing me on how I MUST make the time for myself. Even my husband asks if I’m working out and getting some solo time. I’m sorry, what? Do y’all not see that I am running a business, with two toddlers and a husband abroad?

I have a hard time listening to mom or entrepreneur podcasts that talk about struggles, then give a big solution or hack at the end, but don’t tell me what EXACTLY to do to fix it or level up. I am using these solo episodes to give you relatable ways to help! I promise to be realistic, with tangible tips to make your day easier. I don’t have all the fixes or a magical solution (dang i wish this existed) but I have plenty of experience!

Last week when I talked to Stacey Caito, we discussed how she had a lot on the line — an all consuming job as a realtor and three kids under 4 at home. There is never a time she can turn off her responsibilities. Her biggest struggle is similar to mine — minimal amount of time we have to dedicate to JUST US!!

The trend of self-care is EVERYWHERE. I swear every influencer, CEO and entrepreneur is lecturing me on how I MUST make the time for myself. Even my husband asks if I’m working out and getting some solo time. I’m sorry, what? Do y’all not see that I am running a business, with two toddlers and a husband abroad? What time do I have?! And many times the typical self care ideas (like getting my nails done or reading a book) actually stress me out more because I feel like I’m not as productive!

So, what’s my solution? I have started changing the dialogue from Self Care to Self Attention — I am paying attention to how I am feeling and why! A few months ago I sat myself down and decided to have a brain dump of EVERYTHING taking up space in my head (any short term worries, meals to prep for the kids, business goals, etc.) each and every day. I do this as soon as the kids go to bed and I feel productive and cathartic as I’m not in communication with anyone (tip: put your phone and computer in the other room)!

Consistency can be an issue, so commit to this for just two weeks and give yourself the grace to build up to it! I find night is the best for me and have added it into routine post kids’ bedtime. Some people like the mornings and if that works for you, please do it! I don’t find this works well when kids are awake because the goal is to have your mind CLEAR. Maybe try nap time or after drop off. Heck even sitting in your car works if you have that time!

Work up to 5-10 minutes if you can. Start where you are and trust yourself to just sit and get all the mental build up out. Getting more clarity is going to help so much for the next day, and you’ll start to notice when you don’t take the time to do it, you feel off!

So, can you commit to doing this for two weeks, small little steps each and every day? You don’t need to be an entrepreneur for this to work — parents, you have SO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE. So take a few minutes, just you with a pen and paper and let all that weight go!!!

It’s not going to be perfect, but we are in this together!

Loving the inside scoop and tips?? Head to my Instagram or Facebook for more behind the scenes footage!

You can listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, iHeart Radio and Stitcher!

Full Transcript:

Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies first would have no idea how you give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans. The terrifying and totally bizarre, from health insurance program to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds like doing it all.

Hi and welcome to another episode of amidst the chaos, I’m Dana Graham, and this is our first solo episode. I’m so excited but I do just want to give you a little refresher on how our format is going to go here. We’ll have a guest come on one week, and then the next show will be a solo show that solo episode is going to highlight a common struggle I’ve kind of seen between both moms and entrepreneurs, especially the ones that have come on our podcast. So the idea is that it’ll usually be based off of a topic that I’ve discussed with the guests the week prior. A lot of times that might not line up perfectly, and I’ve gotten so many great ideas and that’s also because I’ve had so many struggles of my own. So we have a lot to talk about and I want to make sure that it’s relatable for everybody, even if you’ve already started your own business, so I’ve had a hard time listening to entrepreneurial or even motherhood podcast that talks about struggle, and then claims that they have some kind of a solution at the end, but they don’t tell me exactly what to do, fix it or to level up. I am here to kind of give you a relatable way that might help right so I’m trying to be a little bit realistic, but I want to try my hardest to have you walk away from these episodes with tangible ways to make your day even just a tiny bit easier. I’m not here to say I’m going to fix everything or provide you a magic solution because I don’t, don’t feel like there are those, but I do want to provide you with a tangible way to at least improve your quality of life a little bit. So last week I chatted with Stacey Kato about her life as a real estate agent. She has a lot on the line with her career, it’s all consuming mentally I mean it’s a big commitment to be to list your house to someone or to buy a house with someone so she has a ton on the line. She also has three kids that are all under for, like, all under the age of four, three of them, so there’s never really a time that she can completely turn off the responsibilities of either motherhood or her career so she has it firing on all cylinders, all the time. So we talked about the lack of self care and the time that it takes to actually have that self care. I was thinking about how funny it is that one of her biggest struggles of making time for herself and to turn it all off, is actually one of my biggest struggles, but that’s not funny. Honestly, this quote unquote, lack of self care, pain point really just being the definition of entrepreneur because everybody has it literally every person that I’ve interviewed for this podcast hasn’t mentioned this on some level, starting and maintaining a business is so complicated and most the time you really are building it from the very beginning, in the cracks of your normal life, it’s usually an add on of some sort to what you already have going on. So there aren’t set hours for a lot of people for you to focus on starting that business. So not only are you trying to be a mom you’re trying to do your regular job, you may be trying to start a side hustle, but then it comes in this trend of self care, right, I feel like I’m getting lectured from all sides on this topic, every, you know influencer and CEO and entrepreneur and everybody is talking about self care and how you really have to make the time for yourself, you know, and I hear this even just stronger. Are you taking care of yourself, are you getting in workouts are you making sure you’re taking time for yourself, be sure to take some time out of your day that’s just for you. My husband lives in Africa, I run a business and I have a two year old and a four year old. Can you repeat your question because, honestly, my brain is way too scrambled to even comprehend your words. I know that everyone just wants what’s best for me and I really do appreciate it I legitimately do appreciate it so much, but honestly it’s just hard. This is the story most moms of young kids tell the same exact story, and especially right now during COVID times the reality is that your self care. Just can’t come first. A lot of times, and I love that it can for some people, but for me it just can’t. So, I do love that it’s coming to light in general and so much focus is being put into making this time for yourself, but I’m not gonna sit here and act like it’s just as easy as just doing it when you don’t have the resources to just do it. Maybe you don’t have a spouse to watch your kids like I do, maybe you need to be working those extra hours on your side hustle, maybe that’s the way to get out of your job, maybe you are too tired at the end of the day, maybe you just don’t know where to start. But honestly, just going to get my nails done or reading a book or doing anything that isn’t productive in my mind, just makes me more stressed out. Just the thought of doing something other than being productive, stresses me out, so I’m not going to sit and do something that is supposedly self care when I’m just going to be twiddling my thumbs the whole time wishing I was doing something productive. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the reason for self care and I’m not bashing it at all. I wish that I could force myself to do that. But right now, and in my personality type, that’s just not a thing. I totally understand the reason for self care and I want to be doing that. Absolutely, but I feel like the part about actually being able to do it is totally glossed over by all these people that are talking about, you know, take the time for you make sure you do that today, if they can’t, then they can’t, but since Sean’s been gone on this trip I’ve thought about it some and I’ve thought about it without rolling my eyes and actually put the time in to figure out how I could make this happen, but not feel that guilt or that stress of, hey, I need to be doing something more right now. So what I did was I have been looking at it, less as self care, and more as self attention. Right, I’ve been having to try to pay attention to how I’m feeling and why it’s usually just because I’m stressed out about getting it all done so sitting there and stressing about why I’m stressing is pointless. So for me that first step towards self care is what I’m calling self attention. Started out with me realizing my brain was totally overloaded and I just needed a way for the mental weight of my whole life to lift so I could actually move forward. So starting a couple months ago I began forcing myself to sit down and totally brain dump everything I need to do, like, literally everything, every short term worry I have everything I need to be thinking about everything I need to do for the kids. Every meal I need to plan everything. I sit down once a day, every day and dump everything out. I’m choosing to do this as soon as I put the kids to bed I actually put my phone charger in my room, I come out to my kitchen table which is my desk and I brained up everything. It’s been pretty legit because it feels, and is productive but it’s also cathartic, I’m spending a few quiet minutes to myself I’m not in communication with anybody, and I’m not distracted by anything, the same time though I’m being productive. It’s given me a whole list of the things I need to do, all in one place. I mentioned that I put my phone on our charger in the other room, if I didn’t, I would start writing things down, and then grab my computer, and then pan again because I remember that there was an urgent email I hadn’t sent, and then getting distracted by that email and remembering about a text I forgot to respond to, so I’d grabbed my phone, and the cycle just keeps going from there you can see why putting my phone in a different room and just using pen and paper for this is the only way to work, make it work for me. I know a lot of people have the self discipline to be able to have their devices around them when they’re doing something like this but I don’t have that kind of self control. I love a distraction, even if it’s a productive one. So I got the distraction issue taken care of, how to focus on the consistency issue. I am really bad about turning things into habit, right, but I know that as long as I do it for a bunch of days in a row, it will stick, so you have to get over that hump and get through those first. For me it took about two weeks to really make sure I was doing this every day. So I do the exact same steps post bedtime with the kids and honestly, my kids bedtime is such a routine anyway and it has to be to get both of them to bed at the same time that it was easy for me to just tack on these things for my own nighttime routine on the end of their bedtime routine. So I come out of their rooms, put the phone on my charger, put my computer away get my pen and pencil out come into the kitchen, or into the dining room. Get ready to start writing. No Pass and go, no collecting $200 That’s it, I just started writing. So once I started this brain dump again took about two weeks before it became second nature. I know it’s weird that I’m doing it at nighttime, I feel like a lot of people like to do their to do list and get set for their day at the beginning of the day, but for me, my brain is so scrambled by the evening time that this is just the right time for me, but you can pick any time of the day you want. Let me tell you though, a night I’ve just been straight up exhausted I did not and still don’t want to do this some nights, but the night that I skip it, I feel significantly worse the next day. For me though sometimes it takes the kids a couple minutes to fall asleep so I have to stay up anyway it’s not like I’m going to be getting into doing something productive or, I honestly probably would have end up scrolling on my phone, waiting for them to definitely fall asleep. So this is a way better way to fill that time when I’m not wondering if they’re gonna need me, you know to come back in and out of their room. On the flip side of the coin I totally understand that this is when most people talk to their spouse and kind of catch up for the first time in the day without your kids talking and babbling in the background or right in front of you but, considering it’s like, I don’t know, three or 4am Sean’s time when our kids go to bed, it’s not a problem for me. So, but find that window in your day that you can consistently every day at the same time stop. Set your timer, get away from your devices, and dump your whole brain onto a piece of paper. If you’re a parent, I honestly don’t see this working, any time that you have your kids awake and even partially in your care. The whole point is to be able to sit alone in silence and actually dump everything that’s caught in your mind. It might be great to do it at the start of a naptime, I could definitely see that working maybe right after you drop them off if they go to daycare. Honestly, you could sit in your car and do this I mean, I would definitely have to throw my phone in the backseat, but it would 100% work, I’ve actually recorded a couple podcasts from my car so writing in a notebook for five or 10 minutes is totally doable in my opinion.

So that sort of brings me to my last piece of the self, attention, puzzle. Do not do this for 30 seconds do not do this for a minute. It is not long enough to truly dump everything that’s on your brain’s highlight reel that highlight reel is working in overdrive, so much of the time and I know that any mom listening to this podcast knows the mental load of what you’re having to deal with day in and day out, doesn’t go away. So find what works for you, I think somewhere between five and 10 minutes is usually best, but once you figured out what works, just set your timer on your phone before you check it in the backseat or leave it on the charger, sit in your seat in silence. But while being productive and unplugged for a certain number of minutes. Right now I met about 10 I always set it for 10, but I do kind of stare at the wall for the first three or so days especially if bedtime didn’t go well and I need to decompress, so that extra length for me is really good, but I know that I can’t get up from my seat until that timer goes off, In all seriousness though, this five to 10 minutes have been such a game changer for my mental clarity. It gets me on track for my next day and I’ve after I’ve dumped out all this information and everything I can think of, I can actually go through and prioritize each task so sometimes that 10 minute timer. The timer goes off, and then I realize that okay I can actually plan out my day and I do use time blocking so it’s easier for me to write everything out the night before, so this has been a perfect intro into setting up my, my days in the, in the coming week, some days though I legitimately dump everything and walk away like and go straight to my bed and go to sleep at 830. That does happen sometimes. But most days, it sets me up to sleep, relatively peacefully, even if I haven’t laid out my next day because my brain is at least knowing that I don’t have to keep remembering things because it’s written down and it’s somewhere I can reach back out to. And remember, so if you’re already practicing self care, please ignore everything that I said, keep doing the healthy things that you’re doing. I hope we can all get there eventually. I’m definitely closer to it at this point than I was six months ago. But for those of you that aren’t I hope this is a good first step, and something that you feel like you could do, even if you start out at a couple of minutes, even just start out at three, where you just sit and brained up. I love that it’s productive but it also gives you a chance to clear your head at the same time and also sit in a relative amount of space of silence. I do hope that it’s practical and it’s a real life way for you to change and improve your day just a little bit. Okay, so with all the details on what I do and what I have been doing with this new concept of self attention versus self care. I’m really going to challenge you to at least try it, just give it a quick try, if you have any sort of feelings like I do, that your brain is just constantly on overload and that mental weight that you have is just so so heavy all the time. Again, this is something that anyone can do. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to try this out because I really think that no matter your job situation, if you are a mom, you have a huge mental burden on your plate right now. So just take a few minutes just try it. Put your phone away, put your computer away, set up the same time every day and just take five to 10 minutes to sit and dump everything you have on a piece of paper that you can either burn or refer back to if you need to, but it is so cathartic and I’m hoping that each and every one of you will just give it a quick chance because I think can really help with your day to day life. I think that’s all I have for this week. On the next episode we’ll be having my new friend Lisa Borbon on. She’s a mom of two and the owner of the twin so it’s a local toy library. Like, legitimately a library for books but for toys, you can basically rent entertainment for your kids, that you take back when they get bored. A week later, you don’t apply it, find a place to store it, you don’t have any extra clutter in your house is freaking genius and I think you’re gonna love hearing how she came up with the concept and then actually put it into action. She launched right at the start of the pandemic, so when I say this mom started her business, Amidst the chaos, it’s not only amidst the chaos of motherhood, but of life in general, straight up global pandemic so if you’re in false church or in Northern Virginia, DC area, absolutely check her out before you even listen to the next episode because you’re going to want to check out her website and everything she has to offer because it’s a crazy good steal, so I can’t wait to talk to her. On the next episode and have you guys here. So thanks again for tuning in and I can’t wait for next week here on amidst the chaos. I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos and any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard, and even more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com for show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it would mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to read it. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.

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