Take Care of Yourself — You’ll Have More to Give

By George

Often caregivers, especially mothers it seems, feel that if they give 100 percent to their troubled child, it will finally pay off. Or if not, at least you’ll have a clear conscience when you die a burned-out martyr’s death at an early age with lots of gray hair. While it’s important to give your best to the ones you love, there’s something to be said about taking some balanced time for self care as well.

I compare it to having a battery. In theory, it may be noble to drain your entire battery, overextending yourself worrying about your child, but it also means you don’t have anything left to give her or anyone else in your life. Taking steps to ensure your battery remains charged, you find you actually have more to give. Here’s a story about that:

“Early one morning two lumberjacks began cutting down two large trees. They made a race out of it. Whoever could fell his tree first would win. Throughout the day, the first lumberjack would wipe his brow and look over his shoulder to assess the progress of his opponent. To his delight he saw the second man taking regular breaks. “Surely I will win with him resting all the time!” he said, and committed to only stopping when absolutely necessary. As sundown approached, to the first lumberjack’s horror, he heard, “TIMBER!” His opponent walked over with a smile. “That’s impossible!” the first declared, “All day long I chopped and chopped while you took several breaks … how did you beat me?” The second lumberjack replied, with a twinkle in his eye, “I took breaks to sharpen my axe.”

This story coincides with Stephen R. Covey’s seventh habit of his international bestseller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Please have compassion on yourself. Go look in the mirror, take a deep breath and repeat after me, “I’m doing the best I can with what I have right now.” That’s all anyone can ask of you, even your worst critic, yourself. You can look out for number one without neglecting your obligations as a dedicated caregiver. Finding balance can mean finding more peace of mind.