Calgon hit the bull’s-eye with the slogan, “Calgon, take me away!” Every woman, especially busy wives and mothers, dreams of escaping from her life. A warm, tropical beach. A quiet house on the lake. Just a place where the noise of life stops, and she can hear herself think and breathe. For most women though, total escape is just a fantasy because most women realize this isn’t practical. Your family needs you in so many ways, and, if you’re honest, you need them too.
Still, the lure of time and space to think lurks in the back of most women’s minds, and they usually make one of two choices. First, they push any personal desires, wants or needs to that area of the mind specializing in forgotten hopes and dreams. Or second, they pursue all selfish ambitions regardless of the impact on others. Both of these choices cause hurt in seemingly irreversible ways. Fortunately, there is a third option.
Option number three involves a balance between giving in to selfish desires and forgetting all sense of individuality. This choice requires more constant effort because it resists natural tendencies, whereas the first and second choices provide absolutes that push to extremes that seem easier to maintain. In other words, saying “no” or “yes” to everything is easier than saying “no” or “yes” to some things.
This three-step process can not only help bring a woman’s sense of self back into balance, but it can also help keep it there for the long haul.
- Plug In. Whether introvert or extravert, sanguine or melancholy, all women need connection. Connection with others happens through personal interests such as crafts, exercising and even shopping. Even more important is plugging in regularly to Christ on an individual, one-on-one basis. Plugging in revolves around the idea of filling up the reservoir to be able to nourish others.
- Recharge. Plugging in leads to recharging. Failure to recharge batteries often enough, and in many cases at all, results in complete failure at some point. Overcharging, however, also ruins batteries. Recharging is about balance. Recharge regularly by eating healthy, exercising, and drinking enough water. Recharging happens when plugging in and also through unplugging. Unlike a cell phone battery, a woman’s battery can be recharged in small increments. So, finding small pockets of time for recharging can be quite effective.
- Unplug. Unplugging can be thought of in two different ways. First, unplugging leads to using the energy stored up during recharging. In other words, be the mom, wife and friend God calls you to be. (The problem usually comes with trying to be MORE than what we’re called to be.) Second, unplugging also means alone time, a treasure so many women crave and fail to get enough of regularly. (Think bubble bath, sleeping in and reading a good book.) Both ways of unplugging are important.
Many women who read this will say something akin to, “Sure, that would be wonderful, but there’s no way I can make that happen in my busy life.” You’re right! YOU cannot make that happen. Without a deliberate an intentional plan that is carried out by the WHOLE family, this process is not going to happen. To that end, consider three elements that must exist for a woman to truly be able to take care of herself so she can avoid hurting herself and the ones she loves.
- Be Deliberate and Intentional. Carefully consider how taking care of yourself not only makes a woman healthier as an individual but the health of the entire family better as well. Purpose to find ways to regularly plug in, recharge and unplug. Enlist your spouse’s and your family’s help.
- Focus on Small Things. Chances are that a week-long vacation alone is not going to happen for most moms, and even a weekend away is a bit iffy for many. But, working in small pockets of time for plugging in, recharging and unplugging can add up over time to make a huge difference. Schedule a weekly bubble bath, daily time to read (even if it’s only 10 minutes, but at least a ½ hour is better), and perhaps a daily tea time (feeling British?). Again, enlist your spouse and kids to figure out ways to make these small pockets of time available. Don’t be afraid to schedule time on the calendar either. Kids tend to like that sort of structure.
- Be Determined. Time to plug in, recharge and unplug will not happen by itself. Well, it won’t unless we run ourselves so ragged that illness or depression force us to stop. We must make a determined effort to schedule time for ourselves because it simply won’t happen otherwise.
Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, a personal life coach in Aurora, Colorado, says that when we establish “mommy time,” we are in fact helping our children learn independence, socialization, and an appreciation of what we do for them. We are also demonstrating that taking care of ourselves is important. For these very important reasons, we must be determined to take the time to plug in, recharge and unplug regularly. Initially, we take this time because we feel better, but in the long run the benefits go well beyond getting through the day or week with our sanity and families intact.
DISCUSSION: If you’re a wife and/or mom, what can you do today to be healthier and stronger for your family? If your a husband, what can you do to make sure your wife is able to plug in, recharge & unplug regularly? How can you involve your kids in this process?