There’s a common misconception that a mum’s badge of honour lies in her level of martyrdom – taking care of absolutely everyone but herself with no self-care routine. But, that outdated and damaging idea just doesn’t sit right with me. A great mum takes care of her little ones AND she makes time to take care of herself too.
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The idea of “self-care” has certainly cropped up more and more in the last few years – but what exactly does it mean?
Self-care is a deliberate action or activity we choose to do that helps nurture our physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing. It can recharge our “mummy batteries” so we’re ready to take on the world.
If we don’t recharge we could easily end up burnt out. Although I know that’s easier said than done.
Personally, when I take time for myself and “fill my cup,” as cliched as that sounds, I have more to give to others. I am more patient, kind, understanding, and creative. (Well, I’d like to think so!) As all mums know, these lovely mummy attributes can start running low when we’ve burnt the candle at both ends.
As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Or have I just been spending too long on Instagram?
Self-care isn’t selfish
A common trigger for “mum guilt” is taking time solely for ourselves. It can feel like we’re failing or cheating in some way. But, that time is needed, and I dare say, it’s sacred.
Taking time for yourself is NOT a selfish priority.
When you give to yourself, you’re able to give more freely to others. Or that’s what I’m told, anyway. When you’ve been tended to, you’re more likely to be a better listener, a calmer problem solver, and a better role model. If all you do is give, you’re likely to burn out, with little to offer others.
Self-care helps everyone by helping you show up as the calmest, coolest, and collected version of yourself. Yes that really is possible, apparently. Even when you have three year old twins!
5 go-to self-care practices for mums
Self-care is best done as a ritual, a non-negotiable regular practice. Figure out what works for you and make sure you schedule it regularly.
Some self-care activities can be done daily, while others may only be a once-a-month activity. These seemingly little things can add up to make a huge difference.
1. Regular exercise
Sometimes, that morning jog is the only 30 minutes of peace you’ll have all day. Taking time every day to sweat and move your body is not only great for your physical health but paramount for mental health. Exercise is a proven stress reliever and go-to “me time” mums everywhere swear by.
Get some exercise by bike riding, yoga, running, walking, swimming – anything that makes you feel good.
2. Pampering is my perfect self-care go-to
Regular hair, skin, and nail pampering can help us feel our very best. Hair masks, long bubble baths, spa massages, at-home exfoliation treatments, a new hair-do, you name it.
Once a week, take a good 30 minutes to dry brush your skin before a shower, layer on your nightly skincare routine, use hair thickening treatments and moisturise your skin. I even do a face mask if I remember and it feels so nice when I manage to.
3. Quiet me time is great self-care
Quiet time can be done either after the kids are fast asleep or a little before they wake up. 30 to 60 minutes of quiet “mum time” can consist of planning your day, reading, writing, meditating, or just quietly unwinding from the day with a glass of wine. (You can guess which one I choose). I start work once my boys are in bed, but because I enjoy writing, I totally class this as me time. And if there’s a glass of wine next to me, then even better!
Often mums don’t get a lot of quiet time to themselves but this introspective time is extremely important for our mental health.
4. One-on-one time with your partner
Parenthood can be all-consuming for couples these days. Taking time to focus solely on your partnership can be a wonderful part of your self-care routine. This might mean taking a walk with your partner, going out for a bite to eat, or taking time to wind down the night together.
This is best done without mobile phones or the TV (okay, that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?) – just focused one on one time to communicate, catch up and support one another.
5. Invite friends round for a fun games night
Regularly getting together with friends or family is a great way to take care of yourself. Time to have fun, get silly, have some wine, and hang out is surprisingly rejuvenating. It’s pretty much my favourite thing to do, especially with my old colleagues or mummy mates.
If you’re more of a one on one gathering type, invite a good friend out for a cup of coffee just to catch up. Try making it a regular monthly occurrence you both can count on. Staying in touch with friends and family even while navigating a busy family schedule is an easy way to practice self-care.
If you don’t have a self-care ritual – you need one
If you’re introverted, you might crave more quiet time and if you’re extroverted you might crave more social time. In any case, try making a routine that is tailored to your specific needs. In my case, it’ about getting out and seeing my mates!
Busy mums like us can undeniably benefit from regular self-care routines. Try taking a little time on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to focus on giving yourself the nourishment you need to continue being that superhero mum. Good luck!
What do you do for self-care?
How did I do?
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