With the village not being like it used to – we all need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. Self care is SO important. Ridiculously so. Understatement. It’s not selfish, it’s ESSENTIAL. I know when I feel valued and cared for then I am better able to take care of the kids, hubby & pets with joy, ease and sans resentment. We’ve all heard that analogy ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. And it’s so true! It’s kind of like the oxygen mask on the plane situation, put your own mask on first. And it’s very easy to let this slip by the wayside when we’re busy (we’re all busy right, let’s not glorify ‘business’).
So for sure we all need to find ways to fill our own cup. And it needn’t be as glamorous as you might think or see online. Mum life is not all lunches and lattes haven’t you heard (though that would be nice, and kind of what I thought BEFORE I had any kids…) and it needn’t cost the earth or put you into a financial bind to do. Rule of thumb – if it’s giving you more stress then you’re missing the point. It doesn’t need to be all massages and getting your hair done or a fresh mani/pedi, (though these are nice, obvs) the simplest way of taking care of yourself is sleeping/resting when you need it (especially in that first year – sleeping when the baby sleeps is so crucial). But the other basics of drinking enough water and eating well. Postnatal depletion is 100% a thing and it’s easier to keep on top of your health than come back from a health crisis. Trust me when I tell you adrenal fatigue is a real bitch! Not something I recommend people go through!
So what exactly is self care? Well, it really is any activity that we do on purpose to nurture and support our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. And that may look different to all of us. My tip is to cover the basics first. Are you drinking enough water? Are you nourishing your body? Yes? Fantastic now let’s look at some other ways to do self care. If, like me, you’re on a budget then please know that you are worthy of taking care of yourself and making yourself feel special and important. In fact, doing little things on a regular basis can make a HUGE difference to your bucket – you know the old ‘are you a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?’. Fill your own bucket so yours is overflowing and you can fill your families bucket.
So right up there with hydrating and nourishing yourself is DROPPING THE GUILT. You know what I’m talking about Mamas. Mum guilt is everywhere and I tell you what, it’s created in our own heads. Give yourself a break. You’re learning and are doing your best. We’re all learning!
Listen to a podcast of something/someone you find inspiring. My current fave is listening to Dr Shefali Tsabary who does amazing interview about Conscious Parenting (thanks Nui for the recommendation!).
Practice your deep belly breathing. Ever notice how a baby is always breathing into their tummy’s? Diaphragmatically breathing is the way we’re meant to breath, it stimulates that parasympathetic nervous system which sends a message to the body that I am safe, I am calm, and you’ll feel more relaxed. Most of us tend to shallow breath into our lungs with is activating our sympathetic nervous system and getting those stress hormones going. There are tonnes of resources for learning breathing techniques that should become part of your daily routine.
Wear your fave lippy. Paint your nails. Master the frog pose or try a handstand. Learn how to do a crazy dance with your kids (guaranteed laughs doing that flossing one?!). Watch stupid videos on youtube (goats that sound like hunans will be a smile to anyones face as will watching the Scottish granny read her grandson the wonky donkey). Do the things that bring a smile to your face and realx for a moment ‘cause let’s face it – this mothering gig is 24/7 whether you’re a stay at home mum, a working mum, we’re all mum’s and we’re all in this together.
Say no when you need to. This! Yes! Totally. And referring back to the dropping the guilt don’t feel bad about it. Setting and Protecting your boundaries for self care is CRUCIAL. If you’ve committed to something that you know is going to drain your energy, just say no. I had a catch up sorted recently and my friend messaged saying, look I’m really sorry I’ve committed to too much this week and I just can’t do it I’m sorry. And you know what? I totally got it! The days and weeks, and let’s be honest months, seem to fly by so we all understand this. We rescheduled for another day and there was no problem, in fact it was better because the time was more relaxed than it would have been.
Say yes without resentment. And if you can’t – then say no and refer to the above.
Connecting with people you care about - energy is contagious, if you’ve been meaning to catch up with someone who lifts your spirits for awhile then do it. We’re all ‘busy’, we’ve all got lots going on, the dishes will be there again soon anyway so you may as well make time for you to have contact whether that’s online, skype, face to face or even writing a letter, what a lost art that is!
Connecting with other like minded people, reach out to people you know with kids, or might not even know them, I’ve made lots of mum friends through Instagram for example! It’s like tinder for Mum’s I swear.
Spend time in Nature – not always practical with a little kid but we are lucky to live in a beautiful country where it’s not too hard to go for a walk in some bush. Okay well maybe in Auckland because it takes ages to get anywhere but if you’re in the city then head to a beach, or to cornwall park for example. Just getting out amongst nature inhaling some good quality fresh air is energising! Even with a little one in tow.
Make time for your health. Whether that’s making appointments for overdue things like the
dentist or doctor for that checkup or whatever – make your health a priority. If you’re not taking good care of you you won’t have the energy to take care of your little one.
Dust off your library card and pick up some books even if they’re just picture books of gorgeously designed homes or wheres wally. Getting your eyes off a screen is so helpful – especially before bed since we all know the bluelight is disruptive for our sleeping/circadian rhythms.
Cook yourself a meal you love. And eat it when you’re ready. In the early days of having our first baby I feel like we didn’t eat together at dinner time for months. One of us needed to be doing something with the baby, and when I got the chance I pretty much just shovelled it in as fast as I could. It took time to get back to a semi designated dinner time (which has changed more with three in the house we usually eat at 5.30 pm – 6pm at the latest!). So with that it obviously takes time to getting back to enjoying dinner time, rather than purely for sustenance and breastfeeding fuel.
Go to the movies! Some places have mums and bubs sessions (used to be on a Wednesday) around 10 or 11 am for $9 or $10 which came with a hot bevvy and you go to see something current, with your mum mates and if your baby cried then no one cared I mean they put change tables in the theatres and toilets. I loved it! And it was also a really good chance to practise getting out of the house with a baby. When number two came along I couldn’t go as much, obvs – however, some malls have creches where you can leave your toddler for a session (two hours usually some may do more).
Run yourself a bath. Light some candles and have a herbal tea before bed. My fave is a detoxing type bath before bed which admittedly I haven’t don’t in a while, but it has Epsom salts, bentonite clay, ylang ylang essential oil, and apple cider vinegar in it. BLISS.
Have a spa session at home with your kids or invite your gal pals over for a pot luck dinner/spa sesh. In the weekend I had a foot spa session with my kids while hubby was out watching the rugby. It was great! We all took turns getting pampered and everyone had smiles on their faces.
Journal – get your journaling on and write down what you’re grateful for. Yes you’ve got 99 probs (but self care ain’t one lolz) and remind yourself of all the good in your life. There is always something to be grateful for.
Some quickfire ideas for selfcare that you can do easily;
Call someone you haven’t talked to in 6 months, pick some flowers, actually stop on your journey and smell the roses, actually floss, repeat I’ll be fine until you believe it, play with playdough, pick up a hobby, read a fiction book, take the stairs, splash cold water on your face, or do a cold burst in the shower, turn off your phone, take a walk during your next phone meeting, wake up ten minutes earlier and meditate, donate clothes you haven’t worn in 12 months (okay unless you’re having or had a baby yknow), watch the clouds shapeshift, sing in the shower, wash your hair and shave your legs (who got time for dat), make tea and actually drinks it (make it in a flask to keep it hot!), KONMARI, do the weeding, write a haiku, give yourself a high five, DIY facial, make your fave dessert, light candles, take a bath, get an early night, declutter, paint your nails, get crafty and make something, think of three great memories that make you smile, go for a walk, stretch, watch a funny movie, watch an enlightening doco, plan a trip, organise a picnic with friends and kids, get a trim, learn a make up trick, drink more water, nourish yourself, forgive yourself, BREATHE.
At the end of the day we’re all just winging it.
Take care of yourself and start with the basics, make a star chart if you want to.
Find your tribe.
We’re all in this together.
Thanks so much for reading!