Redefining Self Care Part - 2


Like we said last week, self-care is a serious buzzword that every single parent has heard at one time or another. But what does self-care really mean and where do we even start? If we’re listening to what the world tells us, we would come away with the idea that self-care is more about self-indulgence and self-sufficiency than it is anything else. But here’s the truth: There’s more to self-care than what is being advertised and that’s what we’re here to talk about.

In Redefining Self-Care Part 1, we explored what self-care looks like for us internally (things we have under our control). Today, we’re going to focus on the external side of self-care. External self-care is about what we can do or where we can go outside of ourselves for interaction that actually feeds our soul.

There are three different principles to external self-care that we’re going to explore today. Here’s the first:

Self-care is not self-sufficiency.

This first principle is a tough one. Especially for single parents. Why? Because we want to prove that we have everything under control. Not only that, we get so consumed with putting up an appearance that we have it all together that it becomes unhealthy. Listen: We were made for dependency on God and each other. But as single parents, it’s hard to look needy. In fact, it’s hard to ask for what we need and trust that someone is going to be there to provide it.

While it’s really hard to ask for others to step into our need, it’s important to remember that we were made to not have it all figured out on our own.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” These days, it’s easy to take that verse so far out of its original context. When we read that, we’re tempted to think, “Me and Jesus? Yeah, we’ve got this!” And while that’s true, Jesus also told his disciples to go out two by two. He never told us to go it alone. Sure, Jesus went away on his own to be with God. But when Jesus did life, He did it within community.

We are innately needy creatures and we have to rely on God and other people to get our needs met. In fact, God even provides those people who can help meet our needs. How beautiful is that?

Find consistent (but diverse) community.

Solo Parent Elizabeth once found herself in a place where she had 100 very shallow friends, but no real deep friendships. During a journaling session, God told her to focus on three to five people who could become her inner circle. She asked God to provide those people would become her inner circle, and He did. Now, Elizabeth has a diverse community of people who fulfill her and help meet her needs in different ways. With certain friends, she can have deep and meaningful conversations. With others, she can go to them to laugh about the ups and downs of life. There are different people in her life she can go to for different things.

The idea of consistent and diverse when it comes to creating community is huge. And we need to be deliberate about that when it comes to building our own inner circle. For instance, if you need encouragement, you might go to one friend who is gifted in that area. And if you need someone to laugh with, another friend may be your go-to. Part of going to different people for different things (having a diverse community) is realizing that you are going to them to be with them and experience that friendship. No community or friend should be in your life with an expectation to fix you (or for you to fix them.)

When we talk about consistency in community, we’re talking about showing up and being known by others and in the same breath, knowing others. This idea of being consistent is a form of self-care. Remember, no single person is going to meet all of your needs. And to be honest, this practice will serve you well if you ever decide to marry again. We have this idea that when we meet the man or woman of our dreams, that they’re supposed to complete us. But when you get into the discipline of having diverse and consistent relationships and are able to go deep with some and enjoy life with others, it doesn’t put as much pressure on your relationships to be all that you need them to be (especially in just one person).

Don’t fall for that line in Jerry Maguire . . . “You complete me.” It’s a lie. If you find yourself in that place with someone . . . it’s a red flag. If someone tells you that you complete them, run for the hills!

So when it comes to building your community, choose people that know how to pray. Like we said earlier, the point isn’t to fix anyone’s problems. But if we can whisper someone’s name to God in prayer on their behalf, that’s huge. Sometimes, we may not have the strength to know what to pray for ourselves. In those circumstances, it’s ok to ask God to put your name on someone else’s heart to pray on your behalf. Trust that He will do it!

One way to build that community of diverse friendships is by serving others. You meet a lot of great people when you serve. And when you do it with your kids, you’re showing them an incredible example of how to be people that step into the needs of others as well.

Find a healthy distraction.

While this may come off as a bit contradictory to our first two points, it’s just as important, especially when it comes to external self-care.
Sometimes life can just be overwhelming. As single parents, you may be fresh out of your marriage and trying to find your footing. Or you may be years into solo parenting but just feel overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities. Maybe you’re an overthinker. Maybe you’ve got an overcrowded schedule. Or maybe you’ve got a lot of grief you still need to deal with. Whatever it is, it’s ok to need a distraction from it all. In fact, it’s healthy to need a distraction.

This is the third step in external self-care because finding a healthy distraction is not a starting place. It’s only relevant if you have done some internal work first. If you have spent time working through your grief and consistently pursued other community, finding a safe distraction is healthy. We need to meter our grief sometimes. And when we’re solely focused on grieving, life is going to feel heavy more than not. That is where healthy distractions come in. Of course, these distractions aren’t to be used as an escape or avoidance when what you really need to be doing is grieving.

How you decide to distract yourself is going to depend on your personality. Maybe it’s checking in to that internal self-care and asking yourself, or God, what you really need. Maybe it’s a hobby. Maybe you need to lay on the couch and watch Netflix. Maybe you need to go get dinner with a friend. Or maybe you need to repaint all of your kitchen cabinets. Whatever it is for you, that’s okay—just choose something healthy! It’s important for us to break the patterns we can get in and find a healthy distraction.

We hope you’re able to take some time this week to really check in with yourself. How are you doing with self-care both internally and externally? Do you have community around you that will build you up when you most need it? And finally, what healthy distractions can you incorporate that will give you life in those moments you need a break?

If you haven’t already, check out a Solo Parent group online or in-person. Solo Parent groups will help you grow in your faith and build the community you need in this season of life.

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