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Is Your Bucket Full?

As a teacher I would always read Carol McCloud's book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? If you haven't read it, I encourage you to. Whether it's to your kids or for yourself, it's an adorable story about how some of us act out when our "buckets are empty" or in other words, we've had a rough day and we feel like our own gas tanks are running on empty. One way to help someone who's having a rough day is to "fill their bucket" or give them a compliment or do something to lift their spirits. But what can you do when you know your own bucket is empty and you feel like you have very little to give to others?

As women, parents, nurses, teachers, caretakers, etc we are constantly nurturing and taking care of those around us. It's just in our nature to want to make sure our loved ones are looked after. Some of us go out of our way to do it more than others. Some of us feel it's what's expected of us as women or been taught to us in our cultures...that's a topic for another day. But are we ever taking the time to check our buckets?

Last Saturday I had an appointment at 10:15 and ended up getting to the location at 9:45. My husband was home with both kiddos, littlest one napping. A part of me thought about going into my appt to see if I could be seen early so I could get home early to tackle the day, but the other part of me was saying "Now's your chance...go do something alone!!" I listened to the second voice and saw a Target in the same parking lot. A trip to Target without any kids? What's that like? I knew we needed baby formula, so on my way to the baby isle (of course I'd need something from that section haha), I was passing by women's clothing. Do I really need more clothes? My closet is so full and I really need to toss the things I am not wearing. I was doing a quick tug of war of words in my head, but before I knew it I was browsing the clothing racks. I stumbled upon some summery linen pants (I love the feeling of linen) and bright colored blouses. I mean, I might as well try some on. I grabbed a few different sizes and bolted towards the dressing rooms. As I was trying on clothes, I felt a wave of excitement and confidence take over....these pants are 2 sizes smaller and I feel so good in my own skin! What's happened in these last 5 minutes? If only I had some wedge sandals to go with them. I took a quick browse through the shoe section, but the shoes I loved were not the right size. Took a picture to save the name for another Target (if I get the time to look online) and headed to the baby isle.

That evening when I got home, I put on my new pants for the kindergarten graduation party we were heading to, came out into the living room to show my daughter and husband...the response back was gratifying. My daughter replied, "I want to wear pants like those!" I knew it was a neighbor's house we were going to, but I just felt like dressing up! I can't explain it, but listening to a podcast alone in the car and going shopping by myself was just what I needed! I noticed on the walk over to our neighbor's, my 6 mos old was squealing and smiling, my daughter had a skip in her step going down the sidewalk, and my husband was saying "honey" more than ever. Are they possibly feeling the same way I was? Was my afternoon alone good for them too?

Well to answer that question, you'd need to hear what went on today. In the morning I could feel a funk coming on...nothing was feeling right, breakfast didn't taste good, my creative ideas were not flowing, and cuddles didn't sound too great. As soon as I was spending one-on-one time with my toddler, she started testing me. Saying "no" to almost anything I asked, not following directions, nonstop horse sounds, and pushing my buttons. She had to have sensed it! Before nap, my 6 mos old was crying and fussing more than usual (also in part due to teething) and was not enjoying our usual tickles on the floor. Was it that obvious to them that Mama needed a time out?

It just became so obvious to me today how important refueling ourselves can be! Self-care is not selfish by any means; it's necessary. In my studying last night I heard a doctor talk about how we don't need to make self-care a big event. It doesn't have to be a mani-pedi, spa day, or trip to a tropical resort. Of course when you do get a chance to do one of those, by all means DO IT! If we cannot use time right now in that way, we need to find something that's more doable in the moment. Depending on the season you are in, you will know what's feasible. What about something as simple as calling a friend while you do the dishes? I love playing music (my women's country station) while I am's like a girl's empowerment retreat for a few minutes before returning to my usual routine. If getting to the gym is not happening and all you're doing is making "donations," then why not take a walk or purchase a machine for your own home? Remember self-care doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to HAPPEN! By taking some moments for yourself, you can better serve your troop. I know I keep saying this, but I am hoping by saying it enough I am pushing myself to walk the talk too! I am exploring this week how I am going to make this happen each week. My goal of course is to make a daily habit because when you're home with 2 kiddos under 5, you need some saving grace. As I explore this topic more, I look forward to sharing my learning with you.

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