To Shave Or Not To Shave. (little things matter)

Former single parents, Robert Beeson, and Kimberley Mitchell, discuss self-care with single mom, Marissa because it’s such an important topic.

As single parents we have limited time. Often the last thing we spend time on is taking care of ourselves and the things we once used to make a priority fall to the wayside. It’s easy to let ourselves go.

Self-care isn’t only about health. It’s about priorities and balance. Life can get so crazy that things like shaving our legs, eating healthy, and dressing well can move to the bottom of the list. Some single parents, though, may spend more time on their appearance than they did when they were married, hoping to catch the eye of a potential suitor or for “revenge”. Whichever side of the conversation you fall on, we are focusing on investing in yourself - for you, not for the sake of anyone else.

We can all fall into habits that aren’t good for us and we don’t always make the healthiest choices, single parent or not. That’s normal and expected, but especially in seasons of upheaval and transition but the cumulative effects of are choices can be substantial on our mindset and our health. Whether we are overcompensating or letting things go, finding a consistent balanced way to care for yourself matters.

Single mom, Marissa, is a widow with two boys. Her choices to care for herself are rooted in an awareness that she has a life to live. When her husband passed away, she realized more than ever not to take it for granted. She’s also aware that her kids are watching how she deals with adversity. She wants them to see her modeling self-care. While married for fourteen years, she had someone who could intentionally show her love. In that absence, she is choosing to love herself and she wants her boys to see that. Self-care also reflects the truth that God cares for us and as His temple, He wants us to care for ourselves too.

Self-care can be a complicated set of dos and don’ts and lengthy lists of best practices for daily living, but self-care doesn’t have to be burdensome or overwhelming. It can simply be choosing to be deliberate about small things. And we’re not taking about vanity or image here. We are talking about paying attention to little things that demonstrate our value and worth.

We want to encourage you, as single parents, to consider how you can invest in yourselves. When something disastrous happens, like divorce or losing a spouse, we may find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, and not able to spend time or energy on good choices. When we stay there or get stuck, and don’t make self-care a priority, we are letting ourselves be defined by the disaster instead of making choices in line with who we are created to be or who we want to be. This shift in mindset and habits needs to be intentional. We need to be healthy, whether married or not, and we can neglect ourselves in either circumstance. Regardless, as we grieve our losses, we still need to come to terms with how we are going to live out this new normal. Self-care is part of that process.

There are four areas we can be mindful of when it comes to self-care: body, mind, soul, and spirit.
An important way to care for ourselves is by eating healthy and moving our body. This helps our mental state too and impacts how we parent. Marissa noticed that when she had regular exercise she felt better emotionally. She had more energy to be present with her kids. Studies show that short daily walks lift our mood and help with depression. Kids need to be active too so we can have them join us. They need outlets for energy and it’s important for them to see us making our health a priority.

Kimberley shared that she never wanted her kids to feel as if she didn’t care about herself. She wanted them to see that she was making efforts to be healthy. She didn’t want to embarrass them or have them see her neglect herself as their mom. She wanted them to know she valued herself and for them to be proud of her choices. As God’s temple, it was important for her to show that she was valuable and chosen.

Robert shares that while he understands that priority, he experienced times as a single dad when he was so exhausted and borderline depressed, he just hit the wall at the end of a long day. He didn’t always have the energy or commitment to put into self-care. He would unwind with a bag of gummi-worms almost as a reward for the hard things he had accomplished. We all have times we indulge or make choices that aren’t good for us especially if we are numbing out when things are tough. Self-care is a difficult balance for single parents who are often stretched so thin. It’s not always easy to make the shift into taking care of yourself in consistent positive ways.

But self-care is important – not because of performance, image, or pleasing others, but to show your worth through choices that are good for you. Self-care acknowledges that you have real needs for care and attention. Self-care makes those needs a priority. Are you giving yourself the attention and respect that God has shown for you? Are you caring for yourself in a way that reflects the truth of your value? You don’t have to go the best salons or wear expensive clothes, but you can walk out of your house with confidence knowing God made you for a purpose and with a purpose.

Self-care isn’t just about the physical care of our bodies. It’s also about caring for our mind. This isn’t just what we think about. Caring for our minds can also include getting outside in nature to nurture and stimulate our thinking and creative processes. It’s choosing to focus on something other than the daily grind like paying bills or cleaning up. Finding new ways to be creative and learning new things is self-care too. Maybe it’s cooking, or a hobby you enjoy, or practicing a new skill like dancing or playing an instrument.

It can also be doing nothing! Being able to sit and be still and quiet, to train our minds to be present, and not race ahead to the future or dwell in the past, is also self-care. We need things that break the patterns of thinking we sometimes get stuck in. Our minds need a break from the serous and heavy stuff too. Laughter is important. Find things that make you laugh, be silly, and relax. Breathe! Don’t take everything so seriously. Give yourself the gift of letting go. See the humor in some of the tough stuff. Laughing with our kids or with friends provides a pressure valve for the stressors of life.

We also need to take care of our soul. Know what you enjoy that brings you simple pleasure. Whether a manicure, going to a spa or doing one at home, can be a way to treat yourself and take care of your soul. These things show us that we are prized. They remind us of our worth.
Soul care also means making opportunities for rest. Rest can take different forms. Sometimes rejuvenation means time with friends if you’ve been alone too often. Or it may be time alone if you are feeling socially drained.

Rest is specific. It addresses the unique needs we have to be rejuvenated. If you are constantly making decisions at work or thinking through critical strategies, rest for you may be doing something mindless and non-taxing. If you work in a job that involves a lot of physical strain, you may need to give your body a break. Take a nap or lay in a hammock. Find ways to recover. Taking care of our soul is one way we can notice what we need and show love to ourselves in those areas. We can choose to spoil ourselves, especially because we may not have others in our lives to do so. And we can do this, in balance, but intentionally to be responsible to fill our tanks.

Another area of self-care is caring for our spirit. We need to be reminded what God says about us and that He loves us. We need constant inputs about our value and how He sees us. We must be deliberate about the things we are putting into our spirit. Self-care can be keeping false beliefs out and letting truth in. It can be taking inventory of our spiritual inputs and being sure that are regularly making time to connect with God. Spiritual health can’t be something we notice occasionally. We must allow God opportunities to pour into us regularly with truth, hope, and encouragement. Listening to Christian music, making time to read your Bible, to pray and receive what your spirit needs are crucial parts of self-care. Time with God is something we need. It’s not a luxury. We must find ways to be filled up by Him.

“To Shave or Not to Shave” is a title we can laugh about. Maybe we aren’t shaving because we’re tired and it’s not a big deal, but sometimes little things can add up - both positively and negatively - and that’s the point. Self-care doesn’t have to be about perfection, grand sweeping changes, or lengthy routines demanding lots of time and energy.

Self-care can be simple deliberate practices that demonstrate how we care for and value ourselves – as people and as single parents. Small acts of demonstrated value can have a profound effect on how we feel about who we are, especially cumulatively. Self-care can show up in little, but consistent ways, that change the direction of our daily lives. It really is a way to affirm what God says about you. You are valuable. You are loved. You are worthy of care, time, and attention. The God of the universe made you, on purpose, for a purpose. He adores you and wants you to be in awe of your value and identity. He wants you to know that your needs matter because you matter. Let your care for yourself reflect that truth – body, mind, soul, and spirit.

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