Self-Care for Mums is a Necessity (Not a Luxury!)
Author: Soul Sister Health
We are so excited to be bringing you our first blog post in our All About Mum series with Soul Sister Health. You have already met Em in our first video and in this post we hear from Anna, the other fabulous half of Soul Sister Health.
Motherhood is full of endless demands, rewards, sacrifices, sleepless nights, countless unscheduled interruptions yet also many beautiful moments and special gifts. But in motherhood, there is also incredible self-sacrifice involved. I was the first one to put my hand up and without any conscious thought process – offer my whole self to this motherhood thing. All of me.
But, one day I found myself day-dreaming about having an illness (not life threatening) that would see me in hospital for a few days while they “tried to figure out the mystery illness” just so that I could sleep. Then I was thinking about checking into a hotel, on my own, taking a sleeping pill and sleeping for 24 hours straight!!! Umm, yep, now in the cold light of day I can see how crazy this was – but I also know that I am not alone in that one. It was then that the alarm bells started to go off, just a little – I knew that my self-sacrifice had gone too far. I was giving ALL of myself to everyone in my family and was left with next-to-nothing for me. Hindsight has allowed me to see that I was really struggling. My own health was so far down my priority list, that my greatest asset was slowly being worn away, by my own negligence. I was so busy making sure that everyone else’s needs were being met, that I was totally neglecting my own. Then the lightning bolt hit- if I don’t care for my own health and wellness – who will?? And I realised, that this one is, hands-down, on me.
Lots of mums suffer from the Superwoman syndrome, where we truly believe (or at least want the outside world to believe) that we can do EVERYTHING! And I mean everything. That mind set is not only crazy, but so damaging health-wise. Of course, you might be able to do everything (I felt like I did for many years), but there is little left over for you. In order to get through everything, every day, I become so focussed on ‘my way’ that it was hard to hand over control to anyone else to allow them to help me out – because they probably ‘wouldn’t do it right’! At the end of each day, I was literally spent. Then I would go to bed, wake up and this cycle would be repeated. Every day. There was NO time for self-care – it did not even enter my consciousness (unless you count the hospital or hotel daydream scenarios!!). In fact, I’m fairly certain that I would have seen that as some form of failure or weakness – that’s how entrenched I was as ‘Superwoman’! But my health started to suffer.
Self care can have a kind-of ‘selfish’ feel to it and as mums, we are anything but selfish, right? But looking after yourself first, is the most important thing that you can do for your family. It is not a selfish act – it is a positive act that will ultimately benefit everyone. If your plane is going down, you are not told to attach your own oxygen mask first, for no reason!
When it comes time to put this into practice though, it can be harder than it sounds and somehow along the way, we have reduced self-care to a day spa visit or pampering session. Of course, it can be – but for most of us, those things are out of reach when it comes to wanting to practice regular self-care. We just cannot financially or physically justify a day at the spa or a pedicure or massage, each week. And let’s face it, practicing ‘self-care’ once a year is just not going to cut it!
However, self-care can be anything that is positive for your physical and/ or mental health. Self-care can be as simple a pleasure as going for a walk, drinking your favourite cup of tea in the sun, reading a good book, taking time to stretch, cooking a nourishing meal, a soak in the bath, brunch with girlfriends, a regular Pilates class or indulging in a funny movie- during the day (shock horror!!)!. And in fact, some of these things are now my non-negotiables on a daily basis. Movement and exercise, good nutrition, and adequate rest & recovery are the ONLY things that help me be the best that I can. When one of these non-negotiables falls short, everything suffers. I am tired, I can be cranky, my patience is tested, I am a less ‘fun’ mum, and my vibe rubs off on the kids. Have you noticed that your mood (or that of your partner) often sets the household tone? If I am short or cranky, the kids tend to be short or cranky. If I whinge about this or that – I immediately see the body language and tone reflected back at me! Talk about confronting….
What is important to realise is, that no matter where you are with your self-care journey, you can possibly do more. Whether you are only just pregnant or have 5 kids in tow, it is important to do things, just for you. Some days you will fall short, but if you decide to prioritize your own health and wellness – everything in your health journey will start to feel better. Try and identify a few basic needs that you might have — like time with friends, learning new skills, reading a new book, enjoying your time in the kitchen or just carving out consistent time to exercise – then schedule it in. Literally put it in your calendar. You will make everything work around it – trust me.
The best thing about taking care of yourself is that it gives you an opportunity to spend more time with your family and friends, as the real YOU – not the stressed, tired, cranky version. We all know that the consequences of not taking care of ourselves is enormous – both physically and mentally. So, take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and see what reflects back – do you like that version of you? As a mum, taking time for yourself is not a luxury, it is vital. The good health of those that you love, truly starts with you.
Soul Sister Health