It’s National Kindness Day. Personally, I think everyday should be National Kindness Days. Kindness matters. It feels like there is a lot of negativity in the world, and spreading a little love each day is one way I try to to balance the constant negative noise.
But as much as I do my best to do some small acts of kindness each day, there’s one person with whom my kindness often falls short. Me.
While I’m often the first to remind myself that I don’t know someone else’s story, and to offer grace and compassion instead of being annoyed by someone’s rudeness, I rarely offer myself that same grace and compassion.
I criticize myself constantly. I feed myself full of negative thoughts about everything from what I’m wearing, to how much I weigh, to how much I yell at my kids, to really anything about my looks/work/parenting/life in which I can possibly find fault.
It’s exhausting and unproductive and is seriously a big downer. So I’ve started focusing on ways I can be kind to myself.
Here are four ways I have found to be more kind to yourself today and everyday:
1) Accept a compliment.
How often do you accept a compliment without a qualifier? For example if someone tells you that you like great, do you say, “Oh, really? I feel like a slob. I really need to get my roots done, and I didn’t even shower today, and this shirt is like ten years old — it’s even missing a button right here — I really am just a hot mess of a mom.”
I know, I do it too.
What you should say is, “Thank you.” That’s it. It’s kind to let someone else pay you a compliment.
2) Slow down.
I’m most stressed when I have a long to-do list, and that stress usually leads to me rushing, and that rushing usually leads to more stress, and that leads to feeling overwhelmed, and that leads me making mistakes and missing things, and that leads to feeling like a burned out failure.
When this starts to happen, I have to stop and remind myself that not everything has to be done immediately. If I slow down and take a moment, I can focus on what needs to be done, release the sense of overwhelm, and set myself up for success when I tackle the tasks that must be completed.
3) Make time for something you love.
As moms, we constantly being told about self-care. “Put your oxygen mask on first!” But seriously, you need to do a little something that you love. Motherhood is not synonymous with martyrdom. When you became a mom, you didn’t stop being you. Even if you can find just five minutes a day to do something you enjoy — read a celebrity gossip article, listen to your favorite song, sit quietly in silence before the kids get off the bus — make the time to do one thing you love that is just for you.
4) Forgive yourself.
Beating yourself up for losing your patience with the kids this morning? Stop and think about it this way: what would you say to your best friend if she was saying the same things about herself that you’re saying about yourself? I would tell my friend that parenting is hard, and some days are harder than others, and we all lose our patience now and then. Bad moments don’t make bad moms. Take a breath, and try again.
As I said earlier, kindness matters. Being kind to yourself is one way to show yourself that you matter too.