I've been doing a lot of thinking about my blog and my business lately and making sure I am heading in the right direction and there is one thing I want to make sure I am doing... or not doing.
I do not want to be a 'Mummy blogger'. I don't want to give you suggestions on how to raise your kids or how to do what you do best. What I want to do is help by giving suggestions on how to look after yourself. As a Mum, your health and mental health are just as important as looking after your kids. And I know that 90% of Mums are constantly putting themselves last and have no idea how to fit in looking after themselves.
So I have put together a little A-Z list of suggestions of things you can do to give yourself a little self-care. Self-care doesn't have to be hours spent alone in an expensive spa getting pampered and massaged, because let's be real, we can't all afford that or have the time for that. Self-care can be as simple as picking some flowers to brighten your house. Little things done here and there that help make you happier, ease the stress, and make life more enjoyable.
These are all things I do regularly to help look after myself and my mental health and to help me get through this life we call #mumlife.
A-Z of self-care for Busy Mums
Admin – It might seem like a strange way to start a self-care checklist, but I never feel more overwhelmed than when I’m drowning in paperwork and just realised I missed a bill and a pay-on-time discount. Spending 10-15 minutes getting on top of bills, diaries and filing away old paperwork helps me to clear out the mental mess so I can truly relax and unwind.
Bed – If anxiety/depression/overwhelm is kicking your ass, sometimes a few hours cuddling up in bed is just what the doctor ordered. As a Mum it is nearly impossible to stay in bed when the real world is calling, but rolling around in bed in your PJs with the kids and ignoring the outside world can help re-centre you and fill your cup.
Crafting – For me, this is crochet. Making anything helps me unwind but I never really understood why. This article helped me see why I love crafting and why I benefit so much from it.
Our culture is saturated by technology and the ability to get anything we want at the click of a button, so making something for yourself by hand enhances mental health and makes us happier. The process of making is important for happiness because when we make, repair or create things we feel vital and effective. Anything from growing vegetables, coloring in, knitting or baking a cake can decrease stress, relieve anxiety and modify depression.
Functioning hands fosters a flow in the mind that leads to spontaneous joyful, creative thought. It fosters pride and satisfaction and has psychological benefits. Creative action can function as a natural antidepressant. So get making!
Dance – Move, shake, jiggle, stomp, tap, bounce, dance like you’re trying to make a baby giggle! I am a terrible dancer, I look like a newborn giraffe, no balance and barely any rhythm. But I do love jumping and bopping, clapping and shaking my booty with my kids to relax and shake off bad feelings. Lately I’ve loved dancing along to Freeze Dance by BeatBo with my kids. They love it and neither of us care that I look like a fool. (I just make sure to close the curtains before we start!)
Exercise – Going for a walk, doing squats while the kids play at the local playground, taking a boxing class at the gym for an hour for a moment of peace. Exercise not only gets the blood pumping and oxygen flowing through your body, it makes you happier, and less stressed and helps you feel stronger and more powerful. I know when I am exercising regularly, my mind is clearer and I am able to handle the daily Mum grind much better.
Flowers – Fresh flowers have a surprising impact on cold boring rooms. I’m not the best at keeping indoor plants alive, but I love taking the kids out for a walk to pick flowers to put in a vase inside to put a smile on my face.
Gardening – Tending to a veggie garden is surprisingly rewarding and a great self-care activity. This is my third year with a veggie garden and I love teaching the kids where real food comes from. Not only that, there is nothing sweeter than a cherry tomato straight from the vine. Well maybe watching your child eating them straight from the garden!
Help – Ask for it. There is no benefit to anyone in struggling in silence. It takes a village to raise kids so open your heart, put your trust in your loved ones and ask for help. Whether it is for an hour so you can get your nails done or even grocery shop alone. Or overnight so you can get some alone time to reconnect with your partner. It is so worth it, and 99% of the time, your loved ones are more than happy to help!
Indulge – chocolate, cookies, wine, chips. Treat Yo Self! (Any other Parks and Rec lovers?) Give yourself a special treat. Blow out the diet for a meal or a snack and really enjoy it!
Join a group – Join a playgroup, a hobby/craft group, a gym class, a book club. Meet some other people with similar interests that you can bond with. I’ve spent a lot of time hibernating, being frugal and hiding away from the world in the last few years and it’s a lonely place. Depression and anxiety only breeds when you isolate yourself. It isn’t until I poke my head out of my bunker and actually talk to humans that I really start to feel better and more alive.
Kindness – Do something for someone else without expecting anything in return. Fill your ‘good deed’ soul cup with some positivity. Give away some old clothes to others in need. Donate to a charity or help out a friend who is struggling. Doing something nice for someone else fills your cup and gives you that nice warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Lazy – Be lazy for once! Mums rarely get the chance to be lazy, there is always laundry in the hamper, dishes in the sink, something that should be cleaned or tidied up. IGNORE IT ALL! Spend the day while the kids are at care or school or the grandparents doing something 100% selfish and purely for yourself like have a bath without doing the grocery shopping online at the same time.
Music – Lately I have been switching from TV background noise, to music as background noise and it is making the world of difference both with my mood and with the kids behaviour. They are actually focussing on their playing or drawing etc. And for me, I have felt less stressed and worried that the TV has been on all morning! Music helps me feel like I’m giving myself self-care when the kids are all up in my grill.
NO – Say no and stop feeling guilty about it. There is something in me that still struggles to say no. I’m not sure what it is, whether I just like to help people or am desperate to please people, I’m not sure. But I am working hard on saying NO to things and people that don’t serve me or my family or things that will just stretch me too thin. I recently had to say no to a couple family members where normally I would have said yes, and while it felt weird to say no and not help, ultimately it helped me feel happier and less stressed.
Organise – A clear desk = A clear mind. A clear home = A clear mind. It’s nearly impossible to have a clean and tidy home as a mother. As a stay-at-home Mum, when every time you pick something up the kids are right behind you tipping it over again. But I know when the kids are out of the home at day care or their grandparent’s house, I feel so much better relaxing after a 30 minute cleaning tornado has blown through the house.
Purge – Similar to the above, I have found I can’t handle a lot of clutter, or I start to feel cluttered and overwhelmed. Giving my wardrobe a clear out, or getting rid of half missing or broken kids toys always makes me feel so much better, clearer and more in control of life.
Quiet – I love TV. I love to sit and switch off and watch mindless sitcoms, made up scenarios that don’t require concentration. But I am learning that often what I need is silence. Sometimes I just need to sit and be with my own thoughts and that TV noise can sometimes overload my mind. I know silence or meditation for a Mother can seem like a ridiculous idea, but a few moments of silence and introspection is just what I need to prepare myself for a day of Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy. It’s amazing how good it feels to start the day with even just 10 minutes of pure silence before the tiny people start talking for 12 hours straight.
Read – Whether it’s a trashy magazine, a crime novel or a self-help book, fill your mind, activate your imagination and let your mind wander while you escape mentally.
Spa time – Pamper yourself. I know finding the time or even money for this one might be tricky, but even if it’s twice a year, this is an excellent form of self-care. In the hard days even just having a long shower alone and washing your hair can feel like your spa time. If you struggle to find the time, ask hubby to take the kids for a walk around the block to pick you some flowers while you have your shower or bath and pamper yourself. Then not only will you have clean hair and feel refreshed, you will have some cute flowers too!
Transform – A change is as good as a holiday right? Get a haircut, buy a top you wouldn’t normally buy, paint your nails in gold glitter, get dressed up and go on a date night, get a girlfriend, put on some heels and go get a cocktail. Spend a couple hours doing something totally out of the ordinary and you will feel like a new person!
Unsubscribe – Email these days is such an effective form of marketing and communication, however it is so easy to get bogged down in more emails than you need or will ever read. Every month or so I let my emails pile up for 3 days and then I go through and unsubscribe to all the emails I don’t read. It makes seeing the important emails so much easier.
Vacay – For us, having a holiday on the books gives our day to day life so much more purpose. It gives us something to look forward to and some fuel for us to work towards. Hubby and I have had a tough couple of years and a very quiet holiday calendar. At the start of this year, we thought enough is enough, let’s bite the bullet and we booked 3 small trips away before we welcomed Paige to the world. And it was just the thing we needed. If you can’t afford a holiday, maybe house swap with a friend in another suburb for a mini stay-cation or pitch a tent in the backyard (maybe just in summer). There are ways to make it feel like you are having a break even if it’s not a viable option.
Write – Start a journal. Write 3 things you are grateful for every day. I’ve never been good at remembering to journal every day, but in the last 4 years, I have sporadically written in a journal and I love going back and seeing where I was in years gone past. Journaling has helped me put words to my emotions and helps me express what I am feeling when I struggle to say it out loud.
eXit – Get out. There is nothing more suffocating to a stay at home Mum than staying at home when you don’t need to. Getting out of the house, to a café, to the supermarket, to take the dog for a walk or just walking down the street to feed the ducks can give you the air you need to survive the next week. One thing that often stops me from getting out of the house is the fear of ‘handling’ 3 kids under 5 by myself. And it is hard. But it is so worth it getting out of the house. For the human interaction, the change of scenery, and the fresh air.
You – You come first. Prioritise yourself for once. As a Mum I often find myself changing 2 nappies, feeding 3 people and dressing 3 people before I’ve even had a glass of water in the mornings. Just like on aeroplanes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you are able to help anyone else. I am a much better Mum when I do 3 things first in the morning, go to the loo, get a coffee and put my dressing gown on. Once I have done those 3 things, I am so much happier to spend the next 12 hours being Mum and wiping bums and catering to my kids needs.
Zzzzzz – I am yet to meet another Mum who gets enough sleep, so if you do get some time alone to yourself, just go to sleep. Our children have stolen hundreds of hours of sleep from us, so start catching up as soon as you can!
I hope you have found at least one idea here for some self-care that you can fit into your day today to help you feel a bit less stressed, a bit happier and a bit stronger to battle the mini humans that seem to run your life.
Take care of yourself Mama. You're going to need to if you're going to survive the teenage years!