As busy mums with a billion and one things to do on a daily basis, self care can often feel like ANOTHER thing that we have to do and it can easily find itself on the bottom of the to do list.
Speaking from my own experience (and I’m sure some of you can relate) when you consistently don’t prioritise yourself you end-up reaching a point where you are drained + desperately NEED to make some time for yourself. And then, when you finally have some time to invest in self care, you don’t actually know what to do with it!
So I’ve jumped on the #newyearnewme bandwagon and have promised to prioritise looking after myself this year. I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading about ‘How to Self Care’ and I thought I’d share what I’ve found so far. I am by NO MEANS an expert on self care, I’m actually quite shit at it but I’m hoping to turn that around this year, and if you’re in the same boat – maybe you can join me on a little Self Care Challenge? If you’re up for it – I’ve made a cool little planner (which you can find at the bottom of this blog) with a 21 day challenge + put together a tidy little summary of what I’ve read + learnt about Self Care so far, saving you some time so you can get straight to the ‘doing’ part.
Drop the stigma
There can be a little judgement and stigma around self care. That it’s indulgent, selfish or lazy. Let’s clear that up right now – self care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and it has tangible physical + mental health benefits. Self care increases your self-esteem and increases your overall wellbeing. Self care can reduce stress and overwhelm, both of which can be contributing factors to heart problems. Research has proven that self care can have positive impacts on our health, relationships – even our income.
Know the difference between consumer self care + REAL self care
Like almost everything, self care has become an ‘industry’ within itself. Self care is marketed to us in the form of bath bombs, scented candles and getting your hair done. Yes – those things CAN make you feel good, but self care runs much deeper than that. Self care isn’t fluffy, pampering + feel good all the time – sometimes it’s actually the opposite – it can be painful + uncomfortable.
Self care means prioritising your own needs – whether thats:
- Stopping investing time and effort into relationships with people who don’t do the same for you
- Cutting off toxic friends
- Saying no to things you don’t want to do
- Not being a people pleaser
Self care means being honest with yourself:
- About how you’re really feeling
- About your own role in situations (you need to be honest before you can make changes)
- About doing things that you might not want to do, but need to do for your own health + wellbeing
Self care can be hard:
- It can mean getting up an hour earlier to workout even though you REALLY don’t want too
- It can be taking the time to prepare yourself healthy food (rather than preparing everyone else healthy food + then you eating handful of Jatz Crackers, half your kids sandwich + a pack of sultanas – been there, regularly)
Note: that’s not to say that there isn’t a place for bath bombs and candles (I love me a lush bath bomb!) – there definitely is if it makes you feel good! But it’s important that you look beyond consumer driven self care and look at your deeper well being + happiness. If you’re feeling a bit BLAH, just doing consumer self care is like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound – it’s not enough.
Back to the bazillion and one things we need to do each day. It’s easy to push self care further and further down the list. As we’ve covered, self care is not a ‘nice to have’ its a ‘have to have’ so we need to make it a priority EVERY DAY – not just on the days you feel like a deflated balloon. Think of it as driving a car, you can either drive until you have absolutely no petrol left and you run the risk of breaking down, OR you can make sure you fill it up regularly and don’t have to reach crisis point. The most effective way to look after you, is to make it a priority and part of your daily ritual. That way, it becomes a part of your routine and you don’t need to think about doing it – it just gets done and the tank is consistently getting filled up. It can be hard to get into the swing of it (they say it takes 21 days to create a new habit) but hang in there, because soon it will just be something you do with out having to think about.
Find what works for you
Self care looks different for everyone, and what works for one person won’t work for the next. Some people feel rejuvenated after a morning walk. Others like reading a book. Think about the things you enjoy doing. Think about how you feel AFTER you do something – does your mood lift after going to the gym? Do you feel flat after spending time with some people? Find the things that make you feel good.
If you’re like me, the moment you finally get some time to yourself, it’s so unfamiliar that you don’t know what to do with it and end up spending your precious time scrolling facebook or instagram ( Again, this is what makes daily rituals so great – they’re on auto pilot). So here’s a list of the things I’m doing + some other ideas you might like to try.
My Daily Rituals for 2018:
1. Wake up before my son, do a workout + have my coffee in quiet
My son has always woken early (like crack of dawn early) so I have always gotten out of bed at the same time as him. From the moment I open my eyes, I’m “ON” as mum and my day + schedule is determined by mum life. This year I’m going to bed a little earlier and waking a little earlier so I can start my day on my terms + do something for myself every morning. I’m not loving exercise at the moment, but I know that getting some endorphins pumping does have a big impact on my mood, energy + sleep.
2. Write down 3 things I’m grateful for each morning + before bed each night
Stopping everyday to think about the things in your life that you’re grateful for – even when things can feel a little crappy – has a big impact on your mindset + mood. When you look at the world from a place of gratitude the good things feel better and the hard things feel less shit, and smaller in comparison.
3. Earlier bed time
Because I really won’t miss an extra hour of TV or social media, and getting enough sleep is important for mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
4. Treatment skincare
I’m not sure if it’s stress, hormones or the skin gods hate me but I have struggled with skin issues for most of my life and it has come back with a vengence recently. I’ve made it a priority to use treatment skincare and do face masks regularly.Is a time and financial investment, but it’s important.
5. Scheduling connection time with my husband and son
Life is busy and some days I feel like I don’t get to sit down and just enjoy my son or have a ‘real’ conversation with my husband that’s not between making dinner, bath time, dishes + laundry.
My son Arley is a toddler, and that means lots of tantrums and really high emotions at the moment. I feel like I’m on repeat saying ‘don’t touch that’ and ‘no’ and he’s on repeat having emotional breakdowns about not being able to play with the powerpoints or having to leave the park. So 30 minutes of each day is dedicated to topping up both of our tanks with lots of positivity + fun – with tickles, goofy smiles, reading books, dancing – anything positive. 30 mins doesn’t sound like much (don’t worry, he’s not completely miserable for the other 23.5 hours!) but I’m committed to spending finding 30 minutes in the afternoon to dedicate to fun + positivity and it makes a big impact for me to know that we’re ending our day on a positive (well at least before the nightly dinner time battle). I have a similar daily ritual for my husband – making sure we have a real conversation – where I’m consciously tuning into whats being said – not just having half a conversation between cooking dinner or driving somewhere.
Whilst this isn’t exactly ‘self care’ my happiness is directly tied to my son + husbands, so making a daily ritual to reconnect works towards my ultimate goal.
Like we talked about before, self care looks different for everyone – so you need to find what works for you. If you’re stuck for some inspiration here are some ideas:
- Remove toxic people
- Say no to things you don’t want to do
- Remove things from your to do list that aren’t urgent
- Daily walk or other exercise routine
- Breathing techniques
- Practice mindfulness
- Dancing + listening to music
- Prioritise your own health – go to the dr, get your bloods done and see if you’re lacking in any essential vitamins and nutrients
- Prioritise sleep + rest
- Unplug – take a break from social media
- Schedule time with friends and family
- Make time for physical connection (they say we need 3 hugs a day for survival)
- Anything creative – painting, drawing, sewing, craft
- Spend time with animals
- Talk to a counsellor or psychologist
- Schedule regular appointments for yourself for things that make you feel good – haircut, getting your nails done etc.
Don’t forget to grab your Self Care Planner if you’re up for the 21 day challenge. I’d love to see what you decide to do – tag @mamatribelove on social media or use the hashtag #mamatribeselfcare or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll leave you with this quote, which I think pretty eloquently sums up self care as a mama…
“Please put your own oxygen mask on before attempting to help others”
Nikki is mama to one year old Arley, wife to Darren and one of the founders of Mama Tribe. She describes herself as a professional baby spammer, coffee addict and emoji enthusiast. She likes memes, boxing and shopping. She dislikes writing about her self in the third person.