We’re all so busy, parenting is 24/7, that even if you’re not with your kids for 24/7, it’s hard to truly switch off.
The hustle of being a working parent, or otherwise, is REAL people, we’re all trying our best, winning at life some days, failing at others, always trying to be as strong as we can while often leaving ourselves at the bottom of the priority pile.
Well, it’s just not GOOD ENOUGH OK!
I’m guilty of all of the above but I’ve taken action, yes, it’s only been 4 days but it’s a start and I feel better for it. What did I do? I’ve actually scheduled TIME OUT for me. Yes, really.
You see if I’ve got time to faff around on Facebook (non work-related, posting cat pictures in the hope my husband will give in to my kitten-pleas) I’ve got time to go for a run, do a ten minute yoga session or do as I did yesterday, and have a 45 minute massage. Uh-huh.
By doing these small but important activities, the self-care rituals part, of my otherwise busy day, means I’m looking after number 1 which isn’t selfish, but necessary.
I have an equal relationship with my husband, we both get up in the night if we need to with the kids, and we parent 50/50- so that means we both have to ensure we get time to ourselves to restore those sapping energy levels.
Just because you BECAME a parent, doesn’t mean you stopped being HUMAN, or worse, turned into a SUPERHUMAN.
So go give yourself some self-care and LOOK AFTER YOU.
I literally cannot stop shouting. Sorry, I’m mostly shouting at myself as we must all make ourselves a priority. Please?
Here are my tips to help you self-care yourself silly with!
1.EAT NOURISHING FOOD
I’m obsessed with tasty, nutritious, filling and exciting food. I have tonnes of quick, easy and delicious recipes for you and your family HERE that you can rustle up to help nourish your body and mind.
My latest collaborator (post coming soon), registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist of LEC Nutrition, Laura Clark explains the importance of good food below:
‘As a parent it can be easy to fall to the bottom of the pecking order. Take a few minutes to prioritise your own eating habits – throwing snacks in your bag for the children? Throw a healthy banana in there for you too. Long gap between lunch and dinner because of that after school taxi service you run – take a snack box with wholegrain oatcakes and reduced fat hummus to prevent over hunger and large portions late at night. Every little helps as they say, to control your blood glucose levels and make you feel more in control as a result’.
Food can change your mood, fuels your body and brain and should be of the slow releasing, balanced and flavoursome variety to support and strengthen your good self.
Stop making excuses, exercise doesn’t have to be hard, too time consuming, or make you feel horrendously worn out after either.
I love swimming, but I literally cannot function after a swim. I don’t know what it does to me (is being too relaxed a thing?)-I just become zombie-like post swim which is fine on a Saturday afternoon, but mid-week, is a killer when I need to be my productive self.
So I run in the morning or before lunch, something I find personally energises me (find the sport you love) and I try and do 10 minutes of yoga in my day, or before bed to chill out and wind down.
Scared to start running? My great pal, fab blogger Mirka of Fitness4Mamas advises, ‘If you are a beginner, and have never run before, start with power-walking. Once you become fitter, you can alternate power waking with running. Soon you will be able to run all the way’.
‘Make sure you warm up and stretch before and after every run to prevent injuries. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Also, don’t let the weather prevent you. Plan your runs on the same day every week and try to stick to your schedule’.
I’m a little bit in love with Yoga with Adriene’s channel, as are 1 million other subscribers. Her Yoga at Your Desk video means anyone can get some deep breaths going on, whatever your schedule.
My great friend Zaz who is a qualified yoga instructor and founder of incredible blog Mama and More and the All About You linky promoting personal wellbeing shares her tips for poses to help you sleep HERE.
‘Our lives are spent either physically rushing, or else mentally churning through lists, regrets, tasks, worries, simply, noise. Compound this with the stimulation of electronic devices (including the tv!), and sleep can feel elusive or sometimes unfulfilling and never enough! …’
‘Simple yoga techniques, such as a sequence of certain poses done before bed can relax and lengthen the muscles, and bring your mind to stillness. Regular yoga brings huge benefits – as well as improving muscle tone through increasing flexibility and building strength through weight bearing poses, there are also breathing techniques to help to better equip us to deal with stress, while breath combined with specific asana (postures) releases endorphins (yay, happy hormones!) to lift the spirits, and also calms the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress hormones and bringing us to the present as you focus on the breath and specifics of each pose’.
I also want to try meditation-
The wise and wonderful Jess of Mrs Helicopter Writes says her favourite thing is listening to her Omvana meditation app before she goes to sleep.
‘Especially the 6 phase meditation which asks you to forget negative ‘charges’ e.g. it talks you through negative experiences in the day like a row with the kids or your husband or a rude shop assistant and calls upon you to recall 5-10 things you are grateful for in the day. I love that because then I drift off to sleep thinking positive happy things, even if the day itself has been a pain’.
3. GET CREATIVE
Art makes contributes to happiness. Fact. Don’t believe me, then read THIS as empirical evidence shows that making art affects the brain in a positive way and enhances stress resistance.
I used to paint a lot, I even exhibited and sold in London galleries but then life got in the way (enter work as a filmmaker, kids, blogs….).
Getting the oil paints out seemed too messy and too much trouble, and along the way, I lost a part of something within me that was always important to me-to paint, to draw, to create. Coupled with a lack of confidence (the less frequent you do something, the more scared you are to start/again) meant not painting and doing what made me happy. BUT, I’m digging out the paints and canvases from the garage this weekend and I’m going for it.
I am also rather in love with colouring books too, it’s something I can do with my kids and I’m determined to get my hands on the Vogue one lots of you have recommended to me.
4. BOOK A MASSAGE
There’s nothing I love more than a strong Swedish massage, and having one yesterday made me realise I have to schedule these in more regularly. Just time out in a busy day to de-stress and forget about everything for a window of time.
5. HEAD FOR A CULTURE HIT
I love wandering round galleries, visiting museums, heading to the opera and enjoying the theatre and cinema- I want to be moved, transported across time, place, geography and mindset. Witnessing our lives or those of others touches, frees, awakens us while often enabling us to cathartic-ally face our fears an achieve our dreams vicariously-feeling more content as a result.
6. CARVE OUT QUALITY TIME FOR THOSE YOU LOVE
I’m strict when it comes to work. Once my kids are home, my laptop is off unless it’s an urgent deadline. I need to switch off, be present and hang out with my favourite people. It brings me, and them, joy and I need to ensure my children have a strict routine and feel loved and appreciated.
I don’t allow guilt to eat me up, I work from home and have a busy work-life. It is about compromise and doing what works for you.
7. DO SOMETHING NEW
Want to learn a new language, learn to play an instrument or even start salsa/street dancing? It’s never too late. Go do something just for you, that will help you to stretch yourself, expand your mind and which will push you out of your comfort zone. A new class will help you build self-esteem and even make new friends. I want to brush up on my Italian so would like to start a class pronto!
8. SHAKE YOUR BOOTY
Music is EVERYTHING in this house and it’s a SLOW day here if we don’t break out in dance to my man Pharrell. Carving out girlie time as well as date nights with my (real) man is important to. It’s about quality time with people you can be yourself with.
Hayley of Families in Sync agrees. ‘I love planning in girls nights and meals/time away with the hubby to give me things to look forward to’.
9. READ ACTUAL BOOKS
Don’t start with me, about your kindle, I’m sure it’s ah-mazing and you love being able to read on the go but I’m a soft or hard back kind of girl, always was, always will be. I need to feel pages in my fingertips and reading in the bath means it’s got to be standard books. I know the crinkly pages are a pain but bath bubbles and books are the way forward.
Amanda of super site Ginger Mum agrees with me, ‘Kids in bed, grab a Grazia and sink low into that bath to ease my aching muscles!’
I usually have three books on the go at the same time and am currently multi-reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (for the second time), Kirsty Smith’s hilarious ‘How to Have a Baby and Not Lose Your S****’ and vividly romantic ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ by Nina George.
10. GIVE YOUR HAIR SOME TLC (BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT *SWISHES MANE)
I had to end on my hair-washing it is therapy to me (kinda) and I’m not alone. Pamela of awesome blog Life with Munchers is with me on the mane maintenance chilling here out. ‘My little me time is simply washing my hair. The shower is on…I can’t hear anything but my own thoughts. I may eek it out a bit, although my hair is genuinely thick, so that’s my excuse’.
My joyful mate Michelle of inspiring blog The Joy Chaser agrees, ‘Regular, quality time out for relaxing, reading, yoga or just getting a fabulous blow-dry is so important to me. But I also strongly believe in making a little space for myself every day with my 8 happiness habits including meditation, inspiration, gratitude and celebrating every little success. They’re like little happiness hugs I give myself’.
I love my pal, brilliant blogger Helen of Mummy Mode’s wise words too, ‘I once read that you should always speak to yourself as you would your best friend, affirming how amazing you are and what you have achieved.Sometimes this is easier said than done, but I try reminding myself of it if I feel low. We can be our own harshest critic, yet we need to value and love ourselves more than anyone in the world.We wouldn’t undermine or doubt our best friend, so we mustn’t do it to ourselves.’
‘Failing that, a minute to breathe and lock the door on the world with a long soak often does the trick for me’.
Love, love, love those ideas.
I also adore these words by Audre Lorde, a facebook fan Donna kindly shared with me- ‘I have come to believe caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival’.
I’d love to read your thoughts and any tips to encourage and inspire us all to self-care more in the comments. Let’s help each other put ourselves first, for the sake of everyone else an us of course, because it’s lush looking after yourself!