The other day as I put away laundry that wasn’t mine, washed the 18th sippy cup of the day, and saw an email come in that required my attention, I sighed.
Sighed because I grow tired of taking care of other people.
My girlfriend (and fellow mom and wife) joke that we want to get our own place. Our own apartment where the only bodily fluids we clean are our own. Where we don’t have to work our schedules and life around others. Where we don’t constantly have to think “who’s on first” when it comes to watching our small children. Where we don’t make multiple meals a day just to have those meals rejected and retooled.
But this isn’t just a mom or wife problem. People who work in customer service oriented fields do this taking care of people all day thing, too. In Dan’s line of work, he serves multiple clients and hand-holds all the live long day. This serving others thing is part and parcel to this human life.
And yet. I have to say. I grow tired of it. I don’t like that I feel that way – shouldn’t I take pleasure in serving others? And, in truth, I do. I like to help people and go out of my way to do things for others. But the daily grind of family and friends and dogs wears me down.
Do you feel this way? This weariness when it comes to serving others?
I hope I’m not alone. And since I’m guessing I’m not, I’ve spent some quiet moments here and there thinking about how I can improve on this feeling. Serving my family and friends is part of my life because I have a full life with people in it. People I love and cherish and nag me to death and for whom I’m grateful to have in my life.
So, for me, the first part is realizing that I serve people I love because I love the people I serve. I chose these people.
But it doesn’t mean that the minutiae that comes with serving these people I love doesn’t get on my every last nerve.
So when I feel that short circuiting coming, that I-cannot-take-another-request feeling, I know I need some self-time rituals. Just a bit of recovery, so I can respond to others kindly.
I’ve found that incorporating daily (emphasis on daily) self time rituals make those have-to-dos much less frustrating. These little activities take the edge off the grating. Several times a day, I pour myself a steamy mug of tea and inhale as I wrap and warm my hands around my giant mug. I’ll flip through my favorite magazine, Real Simple, and think about what it would be life to live in the pages of that beautifully photographed magazine. I take 10 minutes to give myself a mini manicure while listening to my new Spotify playlist. Maybe I’ll write down some thoughts for blog post or craft ideas in a journal. Read a couple pages of a book.
In the past, I’d just feel annoyed about doing stuff for others and never doing anything for me. And I’d get caught up in a tailspin and even when I had 10 minutes to do something for myself, I’d unload the dishwasher or put my family’s clothes away or respond to a friend’s email while cursing all their names under my breath. But how is that helpful? It only served to stoke my resentment.
So now when I’ve got minutes here and there, I take them for myself. Sink as deep into myself as those minutes allow. Serve myself so I can better serve others.