I know how hard it is to think about yourself when you are in charge of a tiny human being 24/7. You take a backseat because that little person comes first and they need you to survive. It is your job to protect them and make sure they have the best life. That is a lot of pressure.
What happens though when you are struggling. When you don’t have the energy, when your poorly, when you are run down. How can you fill others glasses when yours is empty? Well, as parents we know we just trudge through, we have too, this little person depends on us.
But it isn’t sustainable, you will become more and more burnt out until you need serious help. This is why so many women feel exhausted, drained or end up with mental health issues because we need help and it’s ok to admit it. I know that sounds pretty extreme but I have seen it happen.
What is Self-Care?
Before I get into the tips to help I want to explain a little on what self-care actually is because this word is thrown around a lot and it isn’t always used correctly.
Self-care isn’t having a day off to binge watch Netflix or stay in bed all day. It isn’t eating your favourite chocolate and doing things that give you a high for a couple of minutes.
Self-care goes deeper than that. It’s taking care of your physical and mental health. Maybe you do need a rest and watching Netflix is fine to do but sitting on the coach all day and then feeling guilty about it in the evening is not helping your mind.
Self-care to me looks more like, eating a healthy breakfast, drinking enough fluid, going for a walk, getting a job done on your to-do list that’s been nagging at you for ages! Why? Because once you do any of these things you are going to feel better for it. Mind and body. This is what will help you in the long run not binging chocolate watching Netflix all day. Sorry to say!
So how can we fit these things in when we are a busy parent? Here are 5 way that may help.
The best way to help your mind and body is through movement. I don’t mean that you have to do an hour of cardio every single day. I just mean moving your body to shift any stuck energy. Movement can lead to more creative thinking, less bodily aches and pains, better sleep, better mental health. So how can you fit in a little movement? Here are some ways …
- 5 minute yoga classes. You can find some 5 minute yoga classes here – CLICK HERE. That are short and will give your body a quick energy shift that will have you feeling so much better.
- Walking, Take the longer way home from the school run or leave a little earlier to go and pick them up and take a walk around the block. Go for walks with your children after school or the weekends. Remember its also good to teach our kids self-care.
- Dancing, This is one of my favourite ways. Whether you are getting ready in the morning, cleaning the house, cooking. Whatever you are doing put on 1 song every single day and dance and sing your little heart out. Your energy levels will rise and so will your endorphins.
- Play with your children, Can’t work out because you always have your kids around? Use them to help, go to a field, play tag, be a hug monster chasing them . Get that heartrate up for just 5 minutes and you and your kids will have happy hormones flying around.
So often as parents we have so many things on our to-do lists and so many thoughts flying around in our heads that it can get a little muddled and overwhelming. A great way to combat this is by writing a to-do list or journaling and what it is you want to achieve. Getting things out on paper makes it so much clearer. The same with talking things through, if you have a friend or partner to share with.
You can do this in the morning when you wake up or if mornings are hectic for you (I know they are for me) You can do this in the evening before you go to bed. It may even help you to sleep better once you have got it all out of your head and on to paper.
Do not crown your to-do list. Make it reasonable you can’t blitz the house, work, do yoga, meditate and batch cook all in the 6 hours your children are at school. Well I couldn’t anyway. So make sure its realistic, this will stop the overwhelm and help you feel more on track.
Once you have a plan or you have journaled your mind should feel a lot clearer and it will be easier to get on with other things.
If you fill your body up on sugar you will have a quick rush of energy but then will come crashing down!
What you put into your body is so important and I know that this is one of the hardest parts of self-care. We all like to head to the sugary or salty snacks but try and make a plan (from step 2) to create a more nourishing meal plan.
If you can add healthier foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts into your diet and less sugars/salts and processed foods you will start having more energy and feel so much better in yourself.
I know for a fact that if I eat too many bourbon biscuits my mood changes dramatically for the next couple hours after. I actually did a test on this and it definitely affected my mood.
So make sure you are nourishing yourself. Even if that starts with 1 healthy smoothie every time you feel a little low.
Now I know I said above that binging Netflix all day is not self-care. However. If you are always on the go and work 24/7 then give yourself a break!
If our bodies and minds are always in reactive mode (which happens a lot with parents) Then our bodies are not functioning the best they can. We need to activate the para sympathetic nervous system. We need to slow down and rest.
Even if that means just 1 episode of grey’s anatomy a day whilst you are having lunch. Give yourself at least 45 minutes to actually rest. You will be able to function better after!
Your children can handle 45 minutes to entertain themselves. Depending on their age of course just make sure they are safe. This can actually do them good as well as kids can be more imaginative playing on their own. Tell them mummy needs a sit down for a moment. It’s ok. You are not a bad parent for sitting down for 45 minutes!
Humans are not meant to live in solitary. That is why it is such a high punishment in prisons. So connect with someone. This could look like …
- Texting a friend
- hugging your child
- being intimate with your partner
- ringing a family member
- asking another school mum our for coffee
- joining an online yoga community (hint hint)
It is a proven fact that hugging someone boosts your immunity and health. It releases happy hormones and takes you our of that reactive state I spoke about above. So connect, even if that is with your child. Tell them mummy needs a hug and improve both of your health.
I hope that this was helpful and that you manage to find a few ways to fit in some self-care into your life especially around Christmas when its even more busy and we kind of lose our routines. And what a great start to the new year if you can pick even just 1 of these to do every single day!
If you are interested in the 5 minutes of yoga, which is a great way to tune into your body and really understand what’s going on in your mind and body then click the button below for a free 28 day journey that you can start right now.