Self-Care For Mums? What does it mean exactly?
Well, for mums, the idea of self-care can be a bit of an obscure concept. We’re familiar with care, the kind of care and love that’s unstoppable and generally flows in torrents in the direction of our family. This love is demonstrated not just in an affectionate form of hugs and cuddles, but in the form of packed lunch boxes, endless loads of laundry, putting tired little bodies to bed and wiping away tears with extra ice-cream. Mums show that they love and care for their families in a million intentional ways.
Think for a moment, when was the last time you directed some of that loving care your own way? An extra 20 minutes in the bath, an indulgent bite of your favourite chocolate or a binge session of that embarrassingly ridiculous series? All that, in a nutshell, is self-care. And if the last sentence made you sigh a little sigh of “YES PLEASE!!!”, then you’re about to learn just how to work these simple pleasures into your hectic and crazy mum routine.
How To Be Intentional About Self-Care For Mums
Self-care is unique to each person’. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. It all comes down to what caring feels like for you. If it’s a 30-minute catnap, a date night or taking a walk alone, do that! And don’t give me the, “It’s just not a priority, my family comes first” excuse. To be the best for them, you need to be the best-balanced version of you, and here’s how. Self-care is like when you’re flying and during the safety announcement, the air hostess tells you to put your oxygen mask on before helping the person next to you, even if that person is your own child. When you think about it like that, it makes personal sense. You need oxygen to survive so that you can then help your loved ones. You need to look after yourself, your self-care so that you can look after your loved ones.
1. Give a Little Praise
We encourage, praise and support our children daily. Now its time to dish some of that good stuff your way. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how damn awesome you are! I don’t care if you have stretch marks here or dimples there or if this all sounds corny. Your strengths, weaknesses and abilities deserve credit and attention, so say what needs to be said! Go on. Take a good look at those tiger stripes, those rounded hips or skinny ribs, those boobs that hang slightly lower than before kids, or that might be a little lopsided now. It’s your body! Be proud of its journey and tell yourself how amazing it is! Now is as good a time as any.
Be specific in your self-praise, and do it again and again. Practice makes perfect, and just like your child’s confidence grows with positive reinforcement, so will yours.
2. Exercise & Healthy Eating
You may not have an hour to retreat to your Yoga mat or time to whip up a banana berry buchu bowl, but you can make healthy choices that replace the less healthy ones. We’re not talking a 10 km run or converting to Veganism overnight, small changes are easy to implement, maintain and build on.
Start with drinking a glass of water in the morning, good hydration helps detox and flush out your system. Stretch for 10 minutes when you get out of bed, it’ll help your circulation and you’ll feel more invigorated, maybe even enough to skip that caffeine fix. Drink another glass of water and stretch just before bed to double up on the benefits.
3. Freshen Up
After a challenging day, all you want is to be able to hit the “reset” button. Done! Order up a home spa treatment. Step one, change your bedsheets; step two, pour a bath; steps 3, 4 and 5, soak the day away. Add Epsom Salts to your hot bath to feel rejuvenated, right down to the bone.
Once you emerge, pull out all the stops and lather on the body cream, massage your feet and paint those nails. Done right, and without cutting corners, you’ll look and feel incredible and sleep like a baby.
4. Take a Nap and Daydream
Self-care for mums is as simple as a well-timed nap. Before kids, when you were tired, you slept. You dreamed of travel and adventures, and then you made them a reality. Now, depending on what stage of your family journey you’re on mum duty, sleep and travel are a luxury.
If you need more than a quick nap, take the grandparents up on their offer to babysit, if you’re lucky enough to have their support close by. It’s a few hours that both them and your kids will relish, and you’ll get to enjoy a few hours of blissful silence. The ebb and flow of life will change your circumstances soon enough, so while your family life is in its growth cycle, enjoy dreaming of your next travel destination. If you can dream it, you can do it.
5. Gifts and Gratitude
Buy yourself flowers, get a scented candle for the bathroom, or stop by your favorite bakery and pick up those irresistible macaroons. It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about feeling treated.
Practicing gratitude makes us aware of how many gifts are presented to us daily. Beautiful, healthy children, wonderful weather, silly things that make you laugh, and a hot bath waiting for you at the end of the day.
6. Ask for Help
We get that you’re used to doing all the heavy lifting yourself, and secretly love the feeling of being capable, strong and empowered. That’s all great, but if you find yourself feeling less that 110%, asking for help is not a fail, but another form of self love. Help doesn’t render you weak or strip you of your super mom status, it’s a form of good control. Why not use resources available to you?
Don’t wait for breaking point to reach out, a meltdown is a messy and completely avoidable affair. Simply ask. If its advice you need, ask a friend or a parent? If it’s quiet time, get dad to take the kids for a few hours. Children can help clean up, entertain themselves or put themselves to bed, in fact, it will help them build confidence and self determinism. Bonus!
7. Get Creative
Paint, dance, sew, color, make music or cook, whatever feels like fun. If gardening’s your thing, then get your green fingers busy or if you have a piece of furniture that needs refurbishing, channel your self love in its direction.
8. Learn to Say No
We’ve established that we are capable of marvelous and monumental things, but that doesn’t mean you have to do them all. Regardless if you’re a stay at home mom or work during the day, there are limits to what you can manage. Focus on what matters and what’s important for you.
The kids don’t need to go to every party they’re invited to, and you don’t have to home bake your cake sale contribution. Don’t overextend yourself, prioritize your free time, and just like the taxman, reserve a sizable portion for yourself.
9. Nurture Your Relationships
First and foremost, there’s your partner. Day-to-day distractions and managing kids can create distance, but there are strong and powerful reasons why you chose him to build a family and share your life, so make time to keep connected. Small rituals are the glue that helps you ride-out the routine.
Spend time with him alone, even if it’s just an hour a night. Watch that addictive series or cook your favorite meal together. Date night may take a bit more planning, but making even a little time for each other is well worth it. We’re lucky enough to sneak out for breakfast at least once every two weeks. It really does help recharge your relationship batteries.
Then there’s your fellow moms and girlfriends. You don’t have to see them every week or even every month, but keep communication lines open, even if it is just a quick note to share news or commiserate. Reply to Whatsapp messages when the kids have gone to bed and if you haven’t yet mastered the voice note, get with the program! You’ll get a lot more said, in a lot less time.
10. Read a Book, Watch a Movie or Listen to Music
Books and movies are a great escape. In seconds, you’re immersed in a different world and disconnecting from responsibilities that nag for your attention. Most things can wait. If you battle to switch off at the end of a day, diverting your attention with these tools will help you clear your mind, gear down and get a better nights rest.
Make it happen!
Self-care for mums is beneficial both physically and mentally. The idea is to make yourself feel good, rest your body and refresh your mind. You cannot drink from an empty cup! You’re entitled to self-love and in case you need it, here are some Self love journal prompts to keep you on track.
You’ll function better and have more energy to meet the demands of a busy family and work schedule. If mom-guilt is holding you back from making the time for yourself, think how guilty you’ll feel when you’re overwhelmed, run-down, and a bad bout of flu knocks you out of action for a week.
Find the balance, you owe it you, yourself and your family.