You’ve seen the memes, you’ve read the mummy blogs and you’ve giggled at many a candid anecdote on the trials and tribulations of motherhood. But while you may laugh these off with a few stolen moments to yourself (just kidding, in between wash loads obviously), it can also highlight the amount of expectation that is placed on us Mama’s in just 24 little hours, 7 days a week. Yep, that’s right, there are no vacations as a parent or carer which is why it’s so important to make time for yourself once in a while in order to recharge from this hamster wheel that is life. So if you’re stressed out, burnt out or just about all out, then it’s time . . . .time to take some time for you, and only you. Repeat after me, self care is not selfish, it is essential.
Eat More Cake!
While the thought of sitting down to a hot, yes, hot cup of tea and a large slice a cake needs no persuasion, I’m afraid on this occasion, I’m talking metaphorically, sorry guys, but stay with me.
Imagine you have a freshly baked cake, complete with butter icing, sprinkles, jam and cream centre, the works!
You give a slice to your partner, a slice to work, a couple of slices to your little ones, a slice to your friends, a slice to extra curricular activities, then before you know it, the cake has gone. Hold on, where’s your slice? Everyone else is happy and content with their slice of cake (aka you), but now there’s none left for you to enjoy.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you are now unhappy, it’s just a little reminder of how thinly we can spread ourselves at times without even realising.
Think about it, if your child needs you, you’re there for them. If your partner needs you, you’re there for them. If you’re friends, colleagues or PTA need you, you’re there for them. But what about you, when is your time?
Life is short, eat the cake.
So, What Is Self Care?
Self care can be anything you want it to be. It is taking some time out to care for your mental, emotional and physical well-being. This doesn’t have to be a 7 day health retreat somewhere, it’s making time to do the things that YOU enjoy, big or small. Take a look below for ideas on where to begin.
No to the 6th kids party of the month, no to candle parties, Tupperware parties, nights out, play dates, baby showers, coffee mornings or anything else that you just don’t want to do, they will understand. The key here is to decline in the right way. Social events should fill you with excitement, not dread so if this is the case, it’s more often a sign that you are doing too much. Of course, some people thrive on busy calendars but if that's not you and you are feeling overwhelmed then it’s time to say no.
Have a night off
This could be for a date night, girls night, mate date, spa date, gym date, whatever you choose to do. Whether you want to get dressed up for food and drinks or sweat it out at the gym followed by a relaxing hour in the sauna, plan a night and make it happen.
Enjoying a cup of coffee while the baby sleeps
The one Mum’s find the hardest, “but what about the washing?”, “I’ll just see to the pots”, “The windows need cleaning”, stop! It can wait. Enjoy 5 minutes peace, in silence or watching an episode of your favourite programme, again the choice is yours. . .just don’t forget your slice of cake! The housework will still be there, but you will feel far more inclined to do it after a well earned rest.
Have an early night
Sleep is so important when it comes to self care, but if you are in the newborn stage, your toddler is teething, or your child just won’t sleep (hello sleep thief) then we appreciate that achieving those 8 magic hours may not always be possible, but don’t worry, you can still set time aside for an early night in theory. Run a bath, light your favourite candle, read a book in bed, and take some time for you. You may not fall into the land of nod for long but at least you will be well rested and ready for the night ahead.
Treat yourself to some pamper time
What better way than to spend a couple of hours at a salon getting pampered. This could be a fresh haircut, a bouncy blow dry, manicure, pedicure, massage, the list is endless, just make sure you take it all in and enjoy every second.
Stop comparing yourself
To the glam Mum in the playground, to the “perfect” family on Instagram, to your friend who appears to have it all together, I hate to break it to you, she doesn’t! Self care comes in all forms, so it’s important to take comfort in the fact that people only show you what they want you to see. The playground Mum might get up 2 hours before her kids to look all glam because she’s insecure, the “perfect” family on Instagram probably took 47 photos to get that shot, and your friend, well, I promise she has her bad days, I bet she’s locked herself in her bathroom with a Twix to get 5 minutes peace from the screaming kids on more than one occasion (we’ve all been there).
While the concept of mindfulness is nothing new, we understand that putting it into practice can be a different ball game, but before you say “I don’t have time”, hear me out. Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, but it is without a doubt gaining momentum in the modern world, which is fantastic for busy Mums and a great form of self care. The art of mindfulness is to bring your attention to the present moment, making yourself aware of your current surroundings. This has been practised for centuries. Mindfulness can be achieved through meditation, simple breathing techniques or just stopping for a minute or two and taking note of what is around you, simple yet effective. So, next time you find yourself feeling frazzled, take 5 minutes to follow the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, whereby you become aware of;
- 5 things you can see - picture on the wall, a candle, a cup, trees, grass.
- 4 things you can feel - the chair you are sitting on, jumper against you skin, sun on your face.
- 3 things you can hear - road noise, birds, toys, washing machine
- 2 things you can smell - lunch cooking, perfume, fresh air, freshly cut grass
- 1 thing you can taste - coffee, chocolate, breakfast
By taking the time to notice the things around you, you will instantly feel grounded, taking a moment to breathe, and focusing on the now. If this is a struggle in the beginning, don’t worry, be kind to yourself, we are all guilty of a wandering mind, the key is to recognise it and try again.
How many times have you found yourself rushing a bedtime story, because you are more focused on the mountain of jobs that await you when the kids are asleep? If so, this is a great place to begin with mindfulness. Try to push those thoughts aside and enjoy the moment you are in, everything else can wait.
Life is busy, we can’t change that, but what we can change is the way we handle it. Acceptance is a great form of self care. It’s ok if everything isn’t done by the end of the day, chances are it never will be, and that's alright, just don’t class self care as another thing to do, or push it to the back of the queue. Look forward to it, embrace it and take your slice of cake, because no-one deserves it more than you!