Minimum. Viable. Commitment.

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The number one obstacle that all mothers tell me stands between them and self-care is… time. Are you surprised? Not. Between meal prep, doctor’s appointments, team meets and birthday parties – not to mention kissing scraped knees, dishing out consequences and consoling troubled hearts – there’s not a lot left in a day for ourselves.

Standard women’s magazine advice for pampering and “me time” often doesn’t apply to the life of a mom, especially if you have very young children. Whole weekend “getaways with the girls” or lavish spa retreats. Yeah, right.

But we know we need self-care. In fact we really, really need it. Like, yesterday. Last year even. Maybe even last baby. We know it’s something we need to commit to – we do. Somehow, we need to make it happen. Not just once or twice a year, but regularly. Daily would be great. But where to find the time? The burning question is… how? 

Repeat after me. Minimum. Viable. Commitment.

Minimum = small. Very small. I’m talking single-digit minutes. Or seconds. Maybe just a moment or two.

Viable = do-able. Ask yourself, “what can I do?” Be honest and kind with yourself.

Commitment = saying out loud, “gosh darn it, I’m doing this.”

Let me share a story with you. Over a decade ago, I started meditating. A few days a week, life permitting. Some days the sessions were longer, some days shorter. This went on for a few years – even though all my teachers were telling me I really should be sitting every day.

Then a teacher in my community was going into a 3 year meditation retreat. His students and friends were asking him how they could best serve what he was doing. All he really wanted was for them to practice too. He created a 3 year meditation challenge, with varying levels of commitment. Entry level was to commit to just 3 minutes a day, every day.

Ah! Here was something I could do. I couldn’t believably tell myself that I didn’t have 3 minutes in 24 hours. I made a pledge on his website that I was doing it, I’d be there meditating right alongside him. Even if I grabbed a few exhausted minutes sitting up in bed before I laid my head on the pillow, I was meditating. More often than not, once I actually sat down, I realized how much I loved meditating and how great it felt. It was easy for 3 minutes to morph into 10, or even 15. And with that commitment to just 3 minutes a day, my daily practice took root. Even now, when my practice is sliding, I return to that minimum viable commitment.

Making a commitment says “this is important”. When we commit, and it’s possible, it actually happens. And that makes it easier to keep the commitment. We see ourselves succeeding, and that motivates us to continue. Who are you committing to? Yourself, yes, absolutely. But do you need a little something more to help keep you on track?

Track it. Operate on the basis of “if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen”. Writing it down works. Successful businesses track everything. Tracking something – in a notebook, an app, in your calendar – shows you where you’re succeeding and where the gaps are. It gets things out of the fuzzy zone of what you think happened.

Have an accountability partner. Find a friend to keep you honest. A quick check in by text is all it takes.

Join a community that supports your goals. That believes that your taking care of yourself in deep and nourishing ways is necessary, possible and that – most importantly – you are worthy and deserving of that care. This is where Mothers Self-Care Circle comes in. We’re a growing group of mother’s helping each other out – with real, do-able methods, inspiration and insights. Right now we’re connecting online, but in-person gatherings in Toronto are coming later this fall. I do hope you will join us and add your voice to our conversation.

So what is the self-care that you’re doing to commit to?  What will you do for yourself – today, tomorrow, and the next day after that? Remember – think small, but commit. For the record, there are 1440 minutes in every day. 3 minutes is, what – 2 stupid cat videos?

3 minutes. Do it.

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