As mums our lives are arguably some of the busiest around. Running after the kids, entertaining them, educating them and of course looking after their needs 24 hrs a day, maybe a little less as they get older. Plus there is looking after the house, the laundry, keeping a loving and connected relationship with our partner or husband, friends and family and much more.
Mums are magicians. A mum with two kids is looking after the 24 hr needs of herself and her two kids, a total of 72 hrs of care that she has to fit into a 24 hour period! Almost impossible. So what happens? A mum will often sacrifice her own self-care in order to look after everyone else. It’s all too common.
The problem with this is that a mum who is run down and not looking after herself cannot effective parent or do the daily tasks she does because she has nothing left in reserves to give. She will feel more unsatisfied with her life than another mum who takes regular care of herself and this predisposes her to burnout, fatigue and even perinatal or parenting depression. Self-care needs to be the backbone of any mums journey through motherhood.
But how can a mum look after herself when she is so busy? Now you may be lucky to have a partner or husband who will take the kids on the weekend or perhaps one night to help you out, or maybe you don’t. Regardless of this self care is something that you should be including in your daily routine. It is a must and should be non-negotiable!
The key is to have a range of activities that you can fit in within the normal constraints of a day to help refresh and energize you. To help you along the way here’s my list of self-care activities for the busy mum.
1. Say NO! If it is important to your or doesn’t have to be done immediately then say no. When you say no you set up and strengthen your boundaries which is an important step towards self-respect. When you say no to something you don’t want to be doing you allow yourself time and permission to say yes to the things that really matter
2. Ask for help. No mum is an island! Call a friend or a family member and ask if they can help you look after the kids or help around the house. You may find most people love to have the opportunity to help.
3. Delegate! If your children aren’t helping around the house then perhaps it’s time to rally the troops. Even a toddler and preschooler can help clear dishes from the table or help you pack away the toys. Often they can see it as a fun game to be played with mum. For older children some pocket money or promised quality 1:1 time with their parents might help motivate them.
4. Go outside. Sunshine is natures pick me up, especially if you find yourself inside a lot. Go to a park or even just sit on the balcony or in the backyard. The sunshine and fresh air will do wonders
5. Sleep. Take a nap or go to bed earlier. Stop looking at screens prior to bed and do some relaxation or meditation to help ease you into sleep.
6. Drink some water. All that running around is thirsty work. It’s crucial to keep yourself hydrated to help keep you running at your best.
7. Listen to music. Put some music on in the background as your looking after the house or playing with the kids. Get up and have a dance. Get the stress out!
8. Eat! And Eat healthy. Do you spend your day just eating leftovers from your kids? Are you constantly on the run and not sitting down to eat your meal? Well stop! Eat healthy nutritious meals while seated at a table to help you feel refreshed and give you the energy reserves for your busy life.
9. Stretch. Starting in the morning and doing it whenever you can, take 5 minutes to move your body and stretch out those tired muscles. Stand up tall and feel your body and your breath.
10. Do some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins are those beautiful feel good hormones.
11. Meditate. Starting with even 3-5 minutes once or twice a day will help you manage the stress that comes with being a mum.
12. Take mini-breaks throughout the day. Running from one child to the next and from task to task, it can feel like a mum never sits down all day. Set your phone alarm for every few hours, preferably every hour and sit down for 3-5 minutes. Just sit and be and reboot.
13. Plan your day. If you don’t plan your day then it will control you. Put yourself in the drivers seat and stop juggling the days task and create a plan.
14. Play a game. If you have your kids at home with you, play a game with them. Take time out from your daily tasks and be silly. Be a child again and laugh. Laughter also releases the feel good hormones endorphins.
15. Have worry time. When all you do is worry, all you are left with is worry. Set aside a specific time of the day that you allocate towards worry and use this time and only this time to think about those things that are concerning you. It takes the stress out of the other hours of the day.
16. Use a notepad. Mums have the daily routines and requirements of herself and those in her family. Rather than have everything going around in your head taking up valuable brain energy, use a notepad and write things down. Not only is it out of your head but you’ll be more likely not to forget it!
17. Accept the mess! Take a day off from cleaning and look after yourself. No house with children will be tidy 100% of the time. So relax and come back to it when you’re feeling a bit more in control.
18. Call your friends. Being a mum is hard work on your own, especially if the only people you talk to through the day are kids. Pick up your phone and give them a call, send a SMS or a message on Facebook and feel connected again.
19. Practice gratitude. It’s well reported in psychological literature that people who feel gracious for what they have and practice gratitude report lower stress levels and a higher quality of life. Get your journal out and write a list of everything you’re grateful for, or even just look around the room you are in right now and go over a list in your head.
20. Use affirmations. Affirmations can be that little pep-talk from yourself to help you get through those rough days. Use words and phrases that help you get through your day.
21. Breathe. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and relax. It is simple and very effective
22. Turn off Facebook. Have a social media free day or afternoon. Take yourself away from the comparison of other mums or feeling less than perfect. Go back to it when you’re feeling a little more relaxed.
23. Reward yourself. Buy something special for you at the shops, even some simple chocolate to snack on (just hide it from the kids!)
24. Accept yourself as you are. We are only human and no mum is perfect. Trust your mummy instinct and do what you know is right for yourself, your kids and your family.
25. Remind yourself of your achievements. Give yourself a pat on the back and run through the list of everything you have achieved in the day, even if it feels like you have done nothing I’m sure you have. From the little things right up to big achievements, reminding yourself of the positive things you have achieved will help you shift your mindset from negative / overwhelmed to positive.
There you have 25 easy ways to help you practice self-care and help you manage the busy life of a mum. Remember that you can always do more than one at a time and you’ll definitely notice the difference. When you notice the difference, those in your family will too. Looking after you, is looking after your family.
Do you have anything else you can add to the list?
Comment below and let us share the wisdom of the group!
Parenting Coach at Blissed Out Mums
Heather is a passionate supporter of mums and calm and positive parenting. She uses her coaching training and experience as a Registered Nurse and single mum of three to help mums be the type of mum they've always wanted to be... As she says, "It's about thriving, not surviving".