We have all got those friends that proclaim to read multiple books a week, learn a new language, do yoga sessions before work, go for long rambles in the countryside and continuously talk about how self-care is essential for mental health. They are right, of course, but the chances are they don’t have children.
We all know that we should indulge in self-care regularly and that when we look after ourselves, we can be better parents, better partners, better employees, and much happier in general.
The problem is knowing and doing are two entirely different things. When we are getting up at the crack of dawn to get the packed lunches ready, get the kids up and dressed and to school, going to work, doing the shopping, the laundry, the dinner, the housework, going to the various parents evenings and assemblies and sports events, and maybe, just maybe trying to get in a bit of a social life somewhere, there is little time to do anything else, and self-care often goes flying out of the window.
Lots of us get caught up in a cycle of saying, ‘I will do it tomorrow’ or ‘I’ll have a go at that next week.’ The problem is, tomorrow or next week never seems to come, and we get trapped in a cycle where we are running around after everyone else and neglecting ourselves.
It has been particularly difficult for many of us over the past three or months thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown that has come with it. The kids haven’t been at school, people have been furloughed from work. While in theory, this should mean more time to look after ourselves, the lack of routine, and having children at home all day, every day has made self-care even more difficult to achieve.
As we move out of lockdown and slowly towards normal, whatever that may look like now, it is time to think about making you a priority. You looking after yourself will make it easier to handle whatever life throws at you, and as we mentioned above, it will make you a better, more connected person all round. Here, we look at just a few simple self-care tips that you can implement as a busy mum.
Think about what you want
Hark your thought back to being a teenager and a young, carefree adult, where you could waste hours daydreaming about what it is what you wanted to be and where you wanted to go in life. Ok, so you might not have hours to do this anymore, but spending some time once in a while thinking about what you want to do is an excellent form of self-care. Keep a journal in the car, next to your bed, or in your handbag – wherever you get the most pockets of spare time – and jot down any thoughts or dreams that pop into your head. Maybe one day, you have hopes of running your own business – write down anything that comes to mind when you allow yourself to dream about it.
Ok, we can hear you. You are asking how decluttering can possibly be a form of self-care, right? Bear with us, and we will explain.
Self-care is not all about the candles and the relaxing, although that can be a significant element of it for most of us. However, fundamentally, self-care is an action that helps you in some way, whether physically or mentally. Clutter can have a substantial psychological impact on many of us – we have minds filled with stuff already, the last thing we want or need is a house filled as well. Getting rid of any unnecessary stuff will help to clear your mind and also has the advantage of making it easier to keep tidy, allowing for more time for the more fun bits of self-care.
Meditate is not sitting around cross-legged and humming, although if that is how you want to do it, crack on. No, meditation is about taking a few moments to clear your mind and achieving a calm, stable mental state. This is what every parent needs, so if you implement just one form of self-care, this is pretty much the one to go for.
There are plenty fo free mindfulness apps and programs to help you to with this. It only takes a few minutes at the beginning or end of every day and can make a huge difference.
Have your health checks
If looking after your physical health is not a necessary form of self-care, then we don’t know what is! Book those appointments and checkups that you have been putting off because they don’t seem necessary – dental checks smear tests, hearing tests, and eyesight tests, and if you need new glasses, treat yourself to a pair from www.eyeglasses.com
Nothing is more important than your health, so keep on top of it. After all, if you are struggling with your physical health, looking after others will be even more difficult.
Take a big stretch
Watch a cat – the animal who has self-care down to a tee. When they wake up, they indulge in a long, big, luxurious stretch, something that many of us humans do not do enough. It is an opportunity to take a few seconds to focus on your body and how it feels, loosen your muscles, and improve blood flow around the body.
Cook your favourite meal
All right, that may sound like more work, and maybe it is – but do this for you! Discard orders from the family and make something you want and that you enjoy eating and making. Take the time to absorb the aromas and experience the peaceful processes of cutting and prepping, and enjoy a healthy, delicious meal.
Listen to your favourite music
It is widely known that music can have a positive impact on our emotions and mental state, so when you feel like you need a bit of a boost, whack on your favourite happy song and have a dance around your living room or kitchen. Who cares if the neighbours are watching or listening to you belt out those Whitney tunes?
Sort out your wardrobe
A bit like having a declutter, sorting out your wardrobe sounds a little contrary to self-care, but it actually can really help. Think of how often you have to push past clothes that no longer fit you and how you feel when you see that dress that you love, but you haven’t been able to do up for years? It can lead to some negative thoughts. Spend some time having a sort out, getting rid of anything that you no longer wear or doesn’t fit you and make room for some fabulous new outfits.
Have a glass of water
When you are busy running around after little ones all day, it can be hours in between drinks. This can lead to you feeling a little dehydrated – 70% of our body weight is water, so it is important to keep topped up! It will make you feel more awake, and help with your hair, skin, and nails.
Ask for help
It can be really hard to ask for help sometimes. Doing so can often be seen as a sign of weakness, but in reality, it is the opposite. It takes courage to stand up and say, ‘actually, I really could do with some help.’ Whether it is asking for someone to come and babysit for a few hours so you can go off and do your own thing, hiring a cleaner because you can’t (or don’t want to!) keep on top of the housework or asking for help with your mental health – don’t be embarrassed.
Get a beauty treatment
As parents, we put everyone else’s needs and wants before our own. That sometimes means not shaving, going months (or even years) between eyebrow waxes and haircuts. So, book your beauty treatment, grab a magazine and a cup of tea and sit back and relax. Your children may think you are the most beautiful thing no matter what, but sometimes, we all need a little treat to make ourselves feel beautiful once again.
Have a coffee with a friend
Parenthood can be incredibly isolating, so when you have the opportunity to spend some time with friends and fellow parents, grab it with both hands. Take time to nurture your friendships, both with and without the company of your children.
Being a parent is difficult, and moments to look after yourself can be few and far between. However, it is crucial to find the time, whether it is whole days or a few hours or even just a few minutes, so something just for you.