Self-care it’s a tricky word isn’t it? It connotes something, but actually mean something entirely different. Self-care isn’t showers on your own, or the odd lie-in to catch up after endless sleepless night. Self-care isn’t even bubble baths and candles, unless of course you really want it to be.
Self-care is about your mental and physical well-being. And as a mother, whether you’re a new mother or a more experienced mother trying to juggle it all, it is about keeping yourself well in order to be the best mother that you can be, even if that means sometimes putting your child second to your own needs, just for a little while.
I’m not talking about leaving your child screaming or hungry for food. But I am talking about setting aside time in your day for you, even if that means leaving the washing, the dirty dishes or plonking your child in front of a screen for 30 minutes, because you deserve time too.
Self-care is often described as many different things, but for me, it’s not basic hygiene, we’re all entitled to that. It’s not someone looking after the kids so you can clean the house, that’s chores. It’s not something you get to do every few months and you need to be super grateful for it. No, it’s something you need to do every single day, every week in order to maintain your sanity, to live your life to its fullest, to be a better, happier and more fulfilled person.
But when you’re a mother it’s the sort of thing that slips to the bottom of the priority list. Maybe just a couple of times at first, until, little by little you can’t remember when you last did that thing. When you last had a child-free moment. Why you didn’t listen to that music, go to the gym or wear those clothes anymore. So here are some tips on how to look after you, when you’re a busy parent.
Do It Daily
Self-care isn’t something you squeeze in every few months, it is something you should be doing for your well-being every single day. It can start small 5 minutes of reading a book absolutely guilt-free. Ten minutes of yoga while your baby naps and can grow when time is less tight. But dedicate a time for it every single day.
Don’t push it to the bottom of the ‘if I get time’ pile every day. A good rule for me is if I missed it the day before, then to do it first the next day and prioritise it because you are important and you matter. Remember self-care will make you a better parent, so it’s totally ok to put it first.
Fit It In When You Can
When my babies were tiny it wasn’t always possible to do everything I wanted, but I also learnt to adapt. For example, breastfeeding became my reading time – kindles are great for one-handed reading. I often do yoga now in the mornings and get up 20 minutes before my children so I can do this on my own in peace. I work out what I can do and how I can fit it into my life. Because if I don’t do it for me, then no one else will.
Discuss It With Family Members
Discuss it with your partner and your children if they are old enough to understand. Tell your partner why you need this time and support and you will offer the same to them in return. Tell your child your Mum is doing this, but you can play/craft/read with them a little later when you have finished. It’s ok that your children know you do these things as you are teaching them self-care too. A life skill they can take into adulthood.
Use Screen Time if You Need To
It’s totally ok to use screentime to get something done for yourself. Screen time can be demonised in the press, but used purposely it’s totally ok. I sometimes put a film on for an afternoon for my children to watch so I can do some writing. It’s not everyday, but actually if it was everyday, just not all day everyday that’s fine too. As mothers we guilt ourselves so much about the things we should be doing, we don’t consider the things we need to do for ourselves. I have very little childcare, so most of the things I need to do I have to do with a child here.
Importantly, remember remember self-care isn’t a nice to have, it’s a must-have.