You can't pour from an empty cup - as every mum ever has been told. How true! What a lovely sentiment! Of course we can't care for everyone around us until we've taken care of ourselves! If only it were that easy. Quite honestly once my day is over, self-care is the thing furthest from my mind.
The problem is that many mums feel the same way. Taking care of yourself feels like another task on top of all the tasks that already need to be completed.
Why do mums in particular need to enter into the craze of self care? Well the simple answer is that it benefits us. Because our work does not end. Ever. How many times after the kids are in bed and you're lying in yours trying to sleep have you found yourself thinking about their health, their happiness, their school, their activities, their appointments, schedules, night-time routines, the upcoming birthday, Christmas, whether everyone in your family is eating healthily enough? The mental load of mothers by Jami Ingledue, details this wonderfully and is well worth a read.
Secondly we need self care because it benefits our children. When we have first taken care of our needs, we are more equipped for dealing with the needs of others. We are more present, more enthusiastic and more loving parents. Our children benefit from seeing us like this, and we benefit from having our needs continuously met.
The joy of taking care of ourselves is that it will look different for every one of us but taking the time to do it will benefit you mentally and physically as well as your relationships with your partner and children. I've detailed some ways below in which you can start incorporating self-care into your daily life in ways that won't feel like an extra task or pressure. Starting small and growing a practice where you know what works for you is ideal.
- Drink more water, hydrated people are happy people! Start carrying a re-useable water bottle with you and make sure it's empty at the end of the day.
- Incorporate energy filled foods into your day. You'll feel more full and satisfied after a big bowl of roasted veggies than half a ham and cheese sandwich that your toddler didn't eat.
- Make sure that you're remembering to eat and drink regularly. Sit down for your meal at a table, take your time - enjoy your food.
- Take every possible opportunity to walk everywhere. It does take longer, but you'll be getting exercise, clearing your mind and be spending some time outside. All three can give an instant mood re-set.
- Take that class/do that sport. Organise a time every week to do something you love. My mum played netball twice a week when we were growing up & I think it probably kept her sane!
- Organise to see people. There is nothing NOTHING worse than facing a week in winter at home with a baby with no plans to see anybody.
Rest & Replenish
- Give your child a busy activity or take advantage of nap-time and sit down with a book, your knitting, a magazine and a cup of tea. Breathe.
- I know this just isn't an option for everybody but; take a day off. Send the kids to grandparents, organise a babysitter and just stay in bed for the day. Sleep, relax and unwind.
- Go on a date with your partner. Nourishing your relationship is important! Spend the day walking hand in hand, get some lunch together, leave the smartphones at home.
- Last but not least! Organising my week on a Sunday afternoon means that I spend less time on annoying tasks during the week. I write out our schedules, plan our meals, write the grocery list, fill out any forms that need to be sent off and make any appointments that need to be made (Doctolib for you Paris based readers, allows you to make all your Dr's appointments on the app.)
- Stop multitasking. I know it's our mum super-power but lots of studies have shown that we're more productive when we focus on one task at a time. I certainly know that this is true for me - so step away from your smart phone! (More on balancing family and tech soon!)
Self Care Sunday
How do I practice what I'm preaching? Self care Sunday. Every Sunday evening, once my son is in bed (with the bedtime routine hopefully completed by my husband!) I roll out my yoga mat & get in a half hour to an hour practice - generally more like half an hour now I'm pretty pregnant. I shower, shave, paint my toe-nails and give myself a facial. I put on fresh, clean pyjamas and settle myself down on the sofa with my diary and plan for the week ahead. Sometimes we watch some Netflix, sometimes we read. I spray my pillow with NEOM Organics tranquility pillow spray & light their tranquility candle an hour before bed and then I go to bed really early. I'm talking 9pm. It feels amazing.
Hopefully there are some ideas here that you can slip into your life easily.
I'd love to hear if you've given any of them a go.