When I was pregnant with my first child, people consistently reminded me to take time for self-care. But, in truth, self-care was not even on my radar at the time. I was still sitting at my office desk at forty weeks pregnant and it was business as usual. It was no one else’s fault or decision other than my own. Instead of thinking about resting before baby arrives, I was either distracted with work, or more interested in choosing my baby buggy, car seat, baby clothes and all the fun things that come with having a baby.
Once our baby arrived, I was overwhelmed with love and self-care can often be parked to one side. After all, how could I complain about having a beautiful family and that I needed some alone time when so many would trade places with me, who were desperate for a baby? Surely that would be selfish?
In my early years as a mother, I thought self-care was about going out with other mums. Mums Nights Out. I was so looking forward to a night out. This seemed like self-care. That’s what the glossy magazines and movies make you think. But was it? As it turned out, those nights were great, but I wasn’t taking any time for myself. Taking time for your own thoughts and quiet time seemed, well, quite difficult. I had misunderstood what self-care was about. I hadn’t thought that it could be something as simple as a walk on my own or a lie-in, without feeling guilty about it. It has taken me a long time for me to figure out that self-care is about, well, myself.
Self-care practice isn’t necessarily about surrounding myself with lots of people or noisy places. Sometimes we need to be still. To feel calm, happy and nourished. I still enjoy going out with friends but I also enjoy the one-on-one kind of experiences. Let’s meet at the coffee shop or let’s go for a walk. I want you to surround yourself with others who want to improve their self-care too. Perhaps we can all support each other on this journey.
According to a survey poll back in 2014, many of us mums are not very good at spending time alone. A study found that the average mother ends up with a mere 17 minutes to herself a day. Over the course of a whole week, the average mother gets less than an hour and a half of waking time to herself.
I want my self-care routine to be about restoring and recharging myself. This can mean so many things, from going for a run, to simply sitting and learning how to just ‘be’. Self-care is about something that has a positive effect on your mental and physical health. There is no one thing that encompasses self-care. It’s different for every person. However, the end goal is always the same: to reduce stress, preserve relationships, maintain a beneficial work/life balance, and nurture your own well-being.
I’m still trying to be a bit kinder to myself. I’m trying harder to stop making excuses for not popping out for a walk or a run. I seem to find an hour available to scroll through Instagram but I won’t spare an hour for myself to do some form of exercise. In 2018, I was better at finding self-care but this journey is long and I still need to do more. So, 2019, I want to get my exercise mojo back and I will 'up the ante' when it comes to my mental and physical well-being.
Clearly, I haven’t got this self-care stuff nailed but once you understand what works best for you, just take a little time to inject some self-care into your busy life. You’ll never regret being kinder to yourself. I used to love noise but now I have learnt to love silence too.
2019, I am coming to get you and bite your self-care backside...
ek, the average mother gets less than an hour and a half of waking time to herself.