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Don’t Forget to Look After Yourself

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what comes to your mind? Hearts? Flowers? Candy? Fancy dinners? Romance? Personally I think that version of Valentine’s Day only belongs to a small part of the population, and even then, it only lasts for a few years.

If you’re in the midst of raising a family, Valentine’s Day probably means classroom parties for your kiddos, buying and signing all those silly cards, maybe even playing chaperone (or chauffeur) for your older kids as they go on their first dates. Maybe you’re just trying to figure out one more night of what to have for dinner. I get it. Life gets like that.
But this year, as you’re spending all that time (like you always do) taking care of everyone else, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself too. This month, we’re focusing on ways to take care of your loved ones, and although it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to look out for those you love is to look out for yourself.

They say if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything, right? And if you run yourself ragged, who’s going to be there for your family? I say this to retirees all the time, but it holds true no matter what life stage you’re in. I’ve seen parents create stress-related health issues just as often as I’ve seen retirees sit in front of the TV all day and develop diabetes.

Think about it. If you’re spending time running to doctor’s appointments because you’ve forgotten about your own health over the years, that puts stress on your family – kids and spouse. It also puts stress on the family budget as bills pile up, and perhaps you have to shell out for babysitters while you’re at appointments. You’re spending too much money, and not spending enough time with your loved ones. It’s a vicious cycle.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re sure this will never happen to you, and besides, who has time? But stress and health problems should not be worn as badges of honor. And trust me – it doesn’t take as much time as you think.

Five years ago, I realized that I had one foot in the grave. I’m currently down about 80 pounds, and I didn’t give up steak. Or bourbon. But I did prioritize moving each day, and choosing healthier foods – most of the time. I want to make this point clear too – just as I encourage our client families to budget money for enjoyment, I want you to still indulge in your favorite treats – whether that’s a rich dessert, a glass of wine or perhaps a quick round of golf. You just can’t indulge (or spend) every day. For me, I looked at my three boys and realized that I wasn’t any good to them if I suffered a heart attack at worst, or at best, had no energy to do anything fun with them because I was so unhealthy. Your family is worth it folks.

And, because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, for all you couples with kiddos out there, I also encourage you to spend some time taking care of your relationship. I’ve seen plenty of couples get to the empty nest stage only to find there’s nothing left of their marriage. It’s easy to put kids at the center of your world, but partners need to be a priority too.

However you celebrate the day of love tomorrow, please, take a little time to be extra kind to yourself. Your family will thank you.

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