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When was the last time you checked in with your own needs and put those first? You can choose each day to be a giving and caring person, but it’s crucial to remember that you need to fill your own cup before you can fill others’. 


That might be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’re a people pleaser (I’m looking at you, fellow Merchants). You may even be addicted to helping others. It’s not surprising, considering the joy it can bring, not to mention the feel-good rush of endorphins that make you feel extra-good about yourself. 


There are so many people with so many needs vying for your time and energy: your kids, your parents, your friends — or even acquaintances or strangers that you feel need your help. 


Some of us give so much to others that we neglect ourselves and our spouse. But it’s imperative that we take time to restore our mind, body, and soul. If we don’t, all our other relationships suffer.


So how do we do that in this crazy-busy world when, oftentimes, we feel like we’re hardly staying on top of it all?


Here’s a helpful saying that we often use in our practice: “People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.” Look to your future, and plan out what your perfect week looks like. What is your morning routine? Do you get time to stretch and exercise three to four times a week? Do you make time to read and pray or meditate on your life? Do you have a regular date night? Is it weekly or bi-monthly? When are you going to get away — by yourself and with your spouse — for down time and recharge your batteries? It’s important to make this a priority every three to four months. What do you do when you get away? 


We all need things to look forward to, and time for self-care and self-reflection can be a wonderful thing to put on your calendar and look forward to.


Just remember this: date nights, getaways, and time to recharge should be fun, not a burden (I’m speaking to my younger self here!).

We each have different roles that we play at different times in our lives. And when my kids were little, most of the date night planning fell to me. I’d have to plan the date, arrange for a babysitter, feed the kids dinner, get the house ready… Again and again, I’d say to myself (and to Eric), “This isn’t very fun!” It was a common discussion we’d have. 


If we’d had the tools then that we have now, we would have done it differently. Eric and I would have been able to help one another to keep scheduled events feeling like a joy, not a burden. 


Even now, we’re not perfect at it. I’m still better at coming up with date night ideas and doing the scheduling. Eric is better at coming up with a financial backing for them. And for the past few years, we let date nights slide. Frankly, we got out of the habit. 


Our New Year’s resolution was to have date nights again. And our goal is to try a new restaurant each month. It’s been so fun to infuse that little bit of fun and adventure back into our life together! We really look forward to it. 


Sometimes we’ll invite friends, go on a walk, or do something afterward. Even during a recent snowstorm here in the Portland area, I told Eric, “Let’s go for a walk with the sled at nighttime!” It didn’t cost anything or require any planning. We went sledding in the moonlight, and we had an absolute blast.


Whatever you do, remember to carve out time in your calendar. Time to recharge doesn’t magically appear. Date nights don’t just happen. And plan for it financially. Make it a serious line item in your budget.

Once you get into a rhythm of making time for yourself and one another, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.