Self-Care For Mothers
Because it's Mother's Day (in the UK), I wanted to put together some ways all of you mothers can take better care of yourself - even when you have children! Every time I speak to a mother about self-care, they always come back with the same reply, "I would love to but I don't have time." The thing is, saying this is like having a car and not stopping to fill up with petrol. You won't get as far as you hoped! By pressing pause for a while to self-care will help you to be more energetic, help you keep on top of your tasks and yourself (!) and will make being a mother a richer and a more joyful experience.
So here are 12 ways you can self-care as a mother:
1. Take time to be alone and to be yourself
A loss of identity when we become mothers is common. Because motherhood is such a huge change and affects every part our our lives, it can take over our lives and we lose the sense of the person we were before the birth. Our day to day life changes, our relationships change, our priorities change too. And rather than work through these changes and still make time to be who we are aside from being a mother, because we are exhausted and rundown and have little time, we tend to just assume the persona of the mother, losing who we actually were as a person and as a woman.
Even though you are a mother, you are still you, so keep connected to that part of you by taking the time to be alone and to be yourself. Keep doing the things you love to do and keep tending to the relationships you had before. You don't have to spend as much time as you did on these things or even as often but spending a little time on yourself, as much as you are willing to give, will help you to keep connected to yourself and your identity. Not only will you feel great because you will feel like yourself again but also revitalized and energized because you gave yourself a break and took some time to take care of you.
Remember, if you take care of yourself, you can then, and only then, have the ability to take care of others in the way you want to. You need to be there for yourself first. Don't feel guilty about taking a break from motherhood to be you for a little while, it's OK to take breaks and it's OK to be you.
2. Keep your energy up
Being a mother is hard work and takes a lot of time and energy which is why it's important to keep your energy levels as high as you can so you can be the mother you want to be. You can do this by making sure you have enough sleep at night. 8-9 hours of sleep per night will make sure that your body has enough time to rest and recover from the previous days' work so you feel fresh and ready for the next day. Ensuring that you are getting enough nourishment throughout the day also has a big impact on your energy levels. Eating healthily and consistently throughout the day, and not skipping meals (!) and making sure that you give your body enough water to boost your energy. Another way to boost your energy is by being active and exercising. Whether that's a session at the gym, walking in nature or a few mindful yoga movements, keeping yourself moving is the key to increasing your energy levels. The more active you are, the more active you are.
As well as sleep, nourishment and exercise, there are other ways to boost your energy with little acts of self-care which are just as important such as treating yourself and buying yourself little gifts, or giving yourself that much needed delicious slice of cake, just because, to boost your self-worth, pampering yourself and allowing yourself to feel good and taking the time to fully rest and breathe as much as we can - even if it's just for 10 minutes or so, can make all the difference.
3. Be present and be with your children without distractions.
"The days are long but the years are short" - Gretchen Rubin
There are so many devices now which are used to soak up our attention. We spend so much time being engrossed with our TVs or our phones that we forget that we have a life which we are missing out on. The more time we connect with these devices, the less we connect with ourselves and our loved ones.
To make life richer for you and your family, limit your time on devices so you can be with your family, really be with them by giving them your full attention and really being there for the moments that matter.
4. Have fun
It's so important to have fun! Have date nights, girly nights, days out and lots of family fun to add happiness into your every day life.
5. Be grateful for who and what you have and your support system.
Always remember to be grateful for the people and the things you have in your life. Someone once said to me that it may be annoying to hear little voices calling your name all the time but there will come a time when they no longer call your name and you will look back and smile at all the times they shouted "mum!" and you'll miss it. How would you like to remember these times? With you shouting back in frustration or with love? Being grateful for the people you have in your life will remind you that you are loved and supported and being grateful for all the things you have in your life will remind you how fortunate you really are. Being grateful will allow you to live a sweeter, richer and happier life, knowing that you already have everything you need.
6. Be proud of yourself
Raising children is an accomplishment and an achievement to celebrate so take the time to sit back and be proud of the people you have raised and also be proud of yourself for raising them this way!
7. Share the responsibility of parenting
It really does take a village to raise children. Make sure you lean on your partner and your support network to give yourself the time and rest you need. Some mothers feel like they have the sole responsibility of raising the children, this is not the case - ask for help. More than likely, your partner and your loved ones will be happy to help in any way they can to give you the break you need.
8. Know the beliefs and life you want for your family
Your children will carry and share your beliefs. Know what's important for you and your family and the kind of life you want your family to live and actively create this life and install these beliefs into your family. Be a role model of these beliefs and actions. If you do, your family will follow.
9. Remain calm when there's battles (when you can!)
Take the stress and pressure out of your family life by remaining as calm as you can when there's battles. Of course there are going to be big battles with children, especially when they are screaming the house down because they don't want to sleep or they want to take their giant teddy to nursery or refusing to put on their shoes! However, shouting and causing a drama about every little thing rarely works and it's bad for your health. Finding ways to remain calm as well as firm and acting from a place of love rather than frustration will create a calmer home as well as a calmer mind.
10. Look for the joys in your day and teach your children to do the same
There are so many joys that surround you, you just need to find them! Rather than focus on the negatives in life, find the little joys which bring you happiness and teach your children to do the same!
11. Do only what you can do
You are not super woman! It's OK that you are unable to do all the things you want to do all the time. This doesn't mean you are failing, it just means that you need to prioritize and know that you can't do it all. Also, when it get's a little too much, remember that there is such a thing as 'low power mode' where you just do what you can do and use the rest of the time to chill out, allowing your body and mind to recharge itself.
12. Build in celebrations and traditions to look forward to and be excited about.
We all love a good celebration and traditions. Why not include more anniversaries and more reasons to celebrate to your family life to make your family life more enjoyable. Create traditions that your children will carry forward and pass on to their children! Be the creators of your family story!
I hope this helps!