Before the pandemic, I could count on one hand the amount of times I had heard someone say “self-care.” Now it’s the new buzz-word that everyone seems to throw around. But do we really know what “self-care” means?
In March of 2021, after a year into the pandemic, I had finally reached a point where I was in desperate need of some self-care remedies. I read a lot of articles and listened to endless podcasts to try to find the answer to what I needed to do in order to take care of myself so I could be a better mom, teacher, wife, friend and me. All of the things I researched suggested the answer was to eat healthy, drink more water, and exercise. I tried all of those things, but it still didn’t work.
When the school year ended and summer began, I made a promise to myself that I would only do things that would make me happy. This was the self care plan I prescribed for myself.
For me, happiness is not in material things; it’s the people I choose to surround myself with day in and day out that help make me happy.
As the summer days are dwindling down, I flip through the pictures from this summer on my phone, and I can see evidence of how I kept this promise of happiness for myself.
Happiness was found this summer…
….when my Nana watched my daughter, Chloe play in her end of season soccer tournament.
….watching my husband push his brother to the beach for the first time since he has been in a wheelchair.
….picking strawberries at a local farm with one of my best friends along with our daughters.
….creating a makeshift movie theater for my girls with the help of a basic projector on the bedroom wall and microwaveable popcorn.
….walking in the Ft. Mitchell parade with teacher friends and throwing candy to old students.
….getting caught in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm in the middle of a dinner on a restaurant patio with my friends.
….dancing with my family to the Beatles’ Birthday to celebrate my sister’s 40th with my Mema and Papa there watching us all dance like fools.
….running with friends who hold me accountable.
… attending a teacher leadership event in person with people I respect and admire.
….getting pictures from my dad of his day out on the boat with my Papa or his adventures with his granddaughters.
….eating Sunday dinners with family.
…when Chloe and Erin would hold their dad’s hand while walking around Home Depot.
….when neighbors stopped to buy lemonade at my daughters’ first ever lemonade stand.
….seeing my Mom bringing back her tradition of back to school shopping with her granddaughters.
…spending time with a college best friend for the first time since Covid-19.
…when Erin raced her Grandpa around the neighbor’s tree.
….staying up way too late watching every Olympic event possible.
But in the midst of those picture perfect everyday moments I captured, there were tough times mixed in too. Those days where fear, anxiety and sadness overwhelmed me.
When at the pool this summer, my youngest daughter, Erin, was afraid to jump in the water. You could see that she wanted to muster up the courage to jump in with her friends from preschool who were doing it already. Erin knew she was missing out on the fun. I told her, “Erin, you can do this because Klares do hard things.” She started to close her eyes and say this mantra “I can do hard things” as she would hold my hands to get in the pool. With each pool visit, she made more progress towards her goal of jumping into the pool by herself. Finally, after two months of self pep talks and encouragement from her family, she is now proudly jumping in the pool all by herself.
I may not know the answer to what self-care really means, but I can tell you from my experiences and self-reflection that making time for family and friends will help you find a little bit of happiness even on the darkest of days. So as this pandemic pendulum continues to swing into this new school year, try to look around you to identify the things that bring you joy and remember that you can do hard things too.
Amanda Klare is a 2019 Valvoline Teacher Award Winner and an alumna of the Kentucky Hope Street Group State Teacher Fellowship. She contributes regularly to the Northern Kentucky Tribune and serves as an Ambassador in the GoTeachKY teacher recruitment initiative.