Self care for mums can come in in many different forms, and as a busy working mum, with some mum experience under my belt, I can tell you three things:
- All mums, be they full time at work out of the home, part time working, working from home or full time at home, need self care.
- Self care, like parenting, comes in different forms and what works for one mum won’t work for another
- It is not selfish to look after yourself as a mum. You cannot be a good mum if you are not looking after you. And no one will do it for you, as hard a fact as that is to face.
Mum life is busy. Whether your children are little or even babies, or moving into their teen years, you probably find, like me, that switching off and time to look after yourself, is often at the bottom of your pile of to do’s.
I learned very early on that if I don’t make sure I get time to look after me, then I can’t be the best version of Mum that I want to be. Whilst I am very fortunate to have a supportive husband, if I am not proactive in my own self care, it won’t happen. So I need to make sure I look after me.
For me, the things that make me feel rested, relaxed and refreshed are simple. They might give you some ideas for yourself.
Alone Time in Peace & Quiet
Never forget about the happiness that comes from spending time alone. Go for a walk, hide in your bedroom reading a book or sit outside in the garden and enjoy some peace and quiet. Whatever it is, make sure that you’re somewhere you won’t be bothered and can completely check out for a few hours. Doing so will make you feel refreshed and like a whole new person when it’s time to get back to your daily tasks. This can be challenging when you have small children, or your partner isn’t around to facilitate alone time. But when my husband was working long hours and weekends, I found that being really strict about bedtime for the children was the key to getting some time for me. I would make sure they were in bed and that I had a few hours for myself before I went to bed. Even if it meant just collapsing on the sofa to eat a meal in peace and watch something that wasn’t kids tv, it helped. Or a long hot bath and a hair wash with a small glass of wine. Now the kids are older, I can escape to go for a swim, or take a nap without worrying what they are up to.
Don’t feel guilty for wanting to pamper yourself. It’s necessary if you want to function at your best and feel good each day. This doesn’t have to be expensive or excessive. Planning a hair cut every few months, making sure it’s in the diary, and that your partner or spouse knows they are fully on duty for a few hours, or making an effort to book in a massage or manicure, or even a spa morning, will help you feel more human. If you are not into spas or massage, then do what you love and makes you feel good. I love going on course to teach me how to cook or bake, so that’s what I do when I need some basic self care and time to relax.
Nights out with your spouse or a friend
Whether you stay in watching movies and drinking wine or go out on the town, spending quality time with your girlfriends is important. You need relationships and connection in your life besides your family. It’s what keeps you healthy and happy. The time with your girlfriends is a great opportunity to exchange stories, laugh and encourage each other with your current endeavors. Even if you’re tired, it may be good to force yourself out of the house to be with your friends. If you can organise a babysitter, and go out with your spouse or partner, that’s also a great way to maintain your relationship with them, too.
Exercise is good for you
I hate exercise but I make myself do it. I swim, and I also use a cycle machine at home. When the children were younger I walked everywhere and then used to go for a run when the husband came home from work, to release tension and help me feel good. it sounds simple but looking after your body really helps. Exercise is good for your mental health, even gentle regular efforts will make you feel a bit more human and less stressed.
Eat, remember to eat
I was very fortunate that the husband was great at making sure I ate, when the babies were little and my hands were full, but there were times when he was working and I was at home all day, that I would forget that I needed to feed me too. You do not have to eat what your children eat and you don’t have to always eat with them, although family mealtimes are always a good thing. I would eat my lunch when they were napping, and I would always make sure I had healthy snacks and a good cup of coffee for that afternoon slump we all know comes when you are tired and possibly not getting enough rest. Your needs are just as important as your children’s and taking time to eat is not selfish. And yes, it’s perfectly ok to have a stash of treats you like, hidden away from the kids and to take five minutes to enjoy those, when the kids are not looking.
Have a good routine
Maybe that doesn’t sound like self care for mums but actually it is. Routine helps, it keeps me sane, and also as a working mum, it means life flows smoothly, or at least vaguely so, and you don’t feel that you are juggling chaos. Routines and what works are so varied for each family, but find what works for you and stick to that. Other people don’t pick up your pieces, so don’t let them dictate how life should run for you, you know your kids and family life so your routine should be what works for you and them.
Basically, self care for mums is something mums have to be responsible for. If you don’t look after you, who will? Even if you have a supportive partner and kids that sleep well, mum life is tiring and you need to look after you. It is harder when there are small humans relying on you but it can be done. And it’s not selfish or wrong to expect to be able to look after yourself in whatever form that takes.
What self care do you put in place to help you be the best mum and person you can be?