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Why I Prefer Self-Kindness to Self-Care

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
10/19/20  8:00 AM PST

As a full-time caregiver, finding time for self-care can feel like a tall order. Instead of adding to your to-do list, try practicing self-kindness.

The Struggle of Finding Time for Self-Care.

As the mother and primary caregiver of two children with disabilities, one of whom has a complex combination of medical conditions, my top focus is normally on my children. Much like the whirring of a computer going through background updates, my mind whirs softly throughout the day, sometimes revving up to a roar.

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have a myriad of phone calls, emails, or appointments with doctors, therapists, teachers to keep track of, and the day-to-day medicine timing, medical procedures, and care and keeping of my children means I’m always focused on them in some way.

Taking care of people is what I do, so when someone tells me to take care of myself it feels like telling me to add another to-do list to my already occupied mind, and adding another line to my job description. Though I’ve written about self-care, in practice, I recoil from the subject and even the practice. In a phrase, when someone tells me to take care of myself I want to flip them the bird. 

I grasp the concept. If I run out of steam the children I care for miss out. In order to continue to meet their needs, I need to meet my own. It makes sense, I need to put on my own oxygen mask first. Believe me, I don’t want to be anything less than stellar in my role as primary caregiver, it’s just that I get overwhelmed with the whole concept, and then instead of doing at least something I throw the whole thing right out the window. It’s probably not healthy, but it’s where I am in life.

Enter Self-Kindness.

Kindness is a core value of mine. Kindness is defined as a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without having an expectation of praise or reward. Can I spare an act of kindness for myself? Almost always, yes. It can be simple as a cup of tea in the evening or dipping into that chocolate stash to get me through one of those days. When I think of the little things I like to do for the other caregivers in my life, I can get behind doing those things for me too.

It’s probably just semantics, playing games with the meaning, but for me, it matters. It’s the difference between recoiling from doing one more thing for one more person and treating myself and feeling the enjoyment instead of feeling guilty. It comes without the baggage of giving care to one more person, which, for me, changes everything. Kindness is a big deal, and self-kindness is part of that. Can you be kind to yourself today?

inclusion on the playground
Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.
Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom
Follow her on Facebook


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