I have come to view self-care as not a way to pamper myself, but instead to make decisions that benefit my future self.
So much of what I struggled with in the past with a cluttered and messy house, is because I was more concerned with what was comfortable for my present self.
“I don’t feel like doing the dishes.”
“I don’t feel like doing the laundry.”
“I am not motivated to clean the house”
All of those things had to shift to make me willing to give my future self a gift of a clean and tidy home.
So these 14 things are really just focusing on the benefit of our future selves, not on pampering ourselves at the moment.
These are not in any particular order and you think, “yes, I need to make these changes in my life,” just pick one of them to focus on and do it for a week.
1. Establishing a morning and evening reset.
I keep my morning and evening reset very simple of just a quick kitchen tidy where I pick up after myself, all the things that I used for breakfast, throw away the trash, and put stuff away. Then I wash the dishes and wipe off the counters and stove.
This means that the kitchen is ready for me next time I need to use it.
I do this in the morning after breakfast, before I get started on my day. That way there’s not a mess in the kitchen waiting for me when I go to cook dinner at night.
There is never a mess sitting in the back of my mind saying like, “Hey, you still need to take care of me. You still need to do the dishes.”
I don’t want to have any of those to-dos weighing on me.
I get it done, so I don’t have to think about it.
I do it again in the evening after dinner, before I sit down to relax, because then I can truly relax.
I can veg out, watch TV with my husband and not have to think about doing the dishes before I go to bed. They’re done. The house is completely ready for me to start the day tomorrow.
2. A weekly reset.
I did not always do a weekly reset because I thought “I work all week. I actually want to have fun on the weekend, not clean the house all the time!”
But these daily and weekly resets have been the most impactful habits I have put into place in my home.
I used to clean the house when I absolutely had to (when it was horrible). Those of you who have waited for six months to a year before scrubbing the tub, you know how much of a pain it is to clean that tub.
But if you clean it once a week, it takes a few minutes.
It’s so easy.
And then the house is ready at any point, and it’s always ready for company.
I don’t ever have to meet someone at the door and pretend it’s completely normal to stand at the door to visit, instead of inviting them in.
Those days are gone.
3. Keep up on the laundry.
If we do our laundry regularly, then it doesn’t pile up to the point where we’re overwhelmed. (You know, when you get to the end of three weeks, and think, oh my gosh, and I have to do three weeks’ worth of laundry, or I won’t have clothes on Monday.)
It’s so much easier to do it once a day or every other day and follow it through: wash it, dry it, fold it, put it away.
It made a huge difference to declutter my clothes and my kids’ clothes so that the whole process was easier. There weren’t as many clothes that could pile up and it was always easy to put away because there wasn’t so much in the drawers.
4. Get up before the kids.
Even just five to 10 minutes before the kids are up, is helpful for my attitude.
Then I have time to think and wake up just a little bit before I’m bombarded with questions:
“What are we going to do today? Can I watch TV? What’s for breakfast?”
5. Go to bed early.
I need sleep.
I need more sleep than my husband needs.
And yes, it’s so nice to sit down in the evening when the kids are in bed and I get to watch whatever I want to on TV. But if I stay up late, I feel crappy the next day.
So this is one of those gifts that I give to the future me.
I know I’m going to feel good if I just start my routine earlier, turn off the TV, give myself time to brush my teeth, wind down, read a little bit, and get to bed at a decent time so I can get enough sleep.
6. Give myself a break when I’m unproductive.
I work for myself. So when I sit down at the computer and I find I’m just bouncing back and forth between video editing, social media, checking email, all the different tabs on my browser… I’m not actually getting anything done.
If I’m not getting any work done, I might as well just go and do something different.
At least if I walk away, my mind can have a break, so it can be more productive when I come back to it.
And if I find that I’m doing this for days in a row, then I know it’s time to take a complete day off.
Shut everything down, get outside, take a break. Do something different.
7. Get outside.
It is so good for our mental health to be outside.
Whether it’s going for a walk or just sitting on the front porch, drinking a glass of water.
Being outside makes a huge difference for me. So now I make it a point, whether that’s sitting on the front porch, going for a walk, or taking half an hour to just work in the garden.
8. Drink water.
I have not been very good at drinking water. Ever.
In fact, there were so many times where I’d get to the end of the day and I’d realize I haven’t drunk any water today. Maybe a cup of coffee, no water.
That’s not good!
So I downloaded the app Plant Nanny on my phone. I like games, so it does help me. I am not drinking as much as they tell me I should, but I am drinking three times more than I was before. And I feel better because of it.
9. Eat healthily.
Again, we hold ourselves to this super high standard when we say we need to eat healthy, like all of a sudden we’re going to just go eat paleo or keto or become a vegetarian.
Let’s keep it easy for ourselves.
If we want to be healthier, then if we’re not eating any vegetables throughout the day, start eating vegetables.
If you’re already serving vegetables at dinnertime, start serving them at lunchtime too.
One step, one thing, focus on one thing that you can do that can make a difference.
10. Use my planner.
This is something that I enjoy doing. I don’t have to do it. I have a phone I can keep track of things in, it would meet my needs.
But I really enjoy planning things. I like writing them out. I like coloring in boxes representing when I am going to do certain things.
I love that process and I love the finished results.
So having a planner and making time to outline my planner is something that I do for myself.
11. Make appointments for myself.
I hate making appointments. I hate calling on the phone to set up any appointments.
Why? It’s really not that big of a deal. It takes less than three minutes and I’m completely relieved when it’s done.
But I know that I DO need to go see the dentist. I DO need to see the doctor sometimes. And so to take care of my future self, I make it a point to make those appointments.
12. Wear clothes that are comfortable and attractive.
I’ve always been one of those people that didn’t feel like I deserved nice things. And though shopping second-hand is a good sustainable thing that we can do, we don’t have to buy the cheapest things.
We can make it a point to purchase things we feel good in and look good in.
We can get dressed every day in things that make us feel attractive instead of frumpy.
13. Take time out to read the Bible.
I’ve always believed that I should have a quiet time, but instead of being a priority, it’s been an afterthought, as if I try to fit that in somewhere.
After simplifying my home and building good cleaning habits so that the home was easy to take care of, I had no excuse to not make this a priority in my life.
And if I say it’s a priority, I need to make sure that it actually is.
14. Taking time to pray.
Along with making it a priority to read my Bible, I’ve had to make it a priority to pray.
I used to just pray through a list like, okay, God, here’s all these things I want you to take care of for me and how you should do it.
But over the years, he’s taught me that praying is not just about telling Him what I want Him to do.
It’s really about spending time alone with Him, getting to know Him, and being open to what HE wants me to be doing.
It’s so easy to neglect this part of life because we think it will make us less productive.
Martin Luther said:
“I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”
And I’m reminded that my reliance needs to be on my creator, not on my own ability, my own ambition, or my own productivity.