Mum Central contributor Becky Holland implores fellow mums to care for themselves. Because if you don’t – who will?
In the last 12 weeks my husband lost his job, we moved towns, started new jobs, sold and bought a house and started house renovations.
The New York Times says that moving and job loss are in the top five causes of anxiety and stress.
I am always on the go with a toddler who loves to be involved with everything and a very independent six-year daughter in a motorised wheel chair who loves to explore. Adapting to a new life and cherishing the old has been and is a day to day challenge.
As a mum I often put myself last because it is easier, but I shouldn’t. It is extremely important that I make time for me as I have my own interests too. But, finding that time to give myself some self-love not only saves me but makes me a better mum and wife.
Self-care is not selfish; it is a matter of survival.
There were days when the tears would flow and everything in my life seemed unbearable. When I moved I left behind my support network and I had to learn all over again who to ask for help. I began to question everything. Am I raising my kids in the right way? Am I doing everything wrong? I used to be so capable. Negative thoughts plagued my mind, normal activities made me cry and everything hurt. Life doesn’t stop. The to-do list just grows. Kids need to get to school, dinner needs to be cooked, and the dog walked. Then I want to spend time with my husband, but what about me? Where do my needs fit into my life? I was lost in all of this traffic. I realised I needed to put myself first and there was nothing selfish about needing to do that.
Self-care reduces stress and anxiety.
Moving to a new town and trying to find new schools especially one that supports my daughter in a wheel chair has been overwhelming, let alone a toddler who is asking to go home to his old room. I found it too easy to grab chips or chocolate when I’m feeling stressed. But instead of allowing myself to enjoy a treat, all it would do is give me another negative to focus on – my poor food choices and how I want to be healthier. So now when I can feel the anxiety starting to build, I am choosing to eat a piece of fruit or take the kids for a walk and enjoy the sunshine. It’s the perfect distraction from the situation that was bothering me, and I also feel far more rewarded for doing something positive for myself.
Self-care helps me to be present.
Some days I focus on my phone or my iPad in a desperate attempt to escape the daily chaos, and that’s fine in the short term, but I discovered that rather than turning on the screens or the Internet, I could choose to take an hour to focus on the now. I want to play with my kids, run around and be silly. Being present and doing something fun is beneficial to my attitude and how I view my daily life. Disconnecting in order to reconnect is so important because I want my children to look back on their childhood and remember the times mummy was silly with them and made them laugh. I have noticed I have been happier and more content children when I disconnect on a regular basis and that makes me feel happier.
Taking care of my feelings matters.
When I am sleep-deprived or haven’t spoken to another adult all day, I find sometimes that I get angry and snap at my kids. I’m sure a lot of mums can relate to this scenario, but that doesn’t make us bad mums – not by a long shot. What it does mean is I need to ask someone to support me by allowing me to spend some time doing something I love. I like writing down my feelings, painting and being creative, and I find if I have the time to do these things, it helps me manage those pesky feelings and my emotional health in the long term.
Self-care is about self-love.
Sometimes, I just have to give myself some love and that means telling myself I am doing an awesome job. I need to appreciate myself and when I do, it boosts my confidence and my emotions. I have found by writing out positive affirmations and quotes then sticking them in the kitchen or on my bedroom mirror reminds me I am doing an awesome job or pushes me through a moment of “I can’t do this”. Sometimes a kind word just helps me make it through and talking to a friend who can listen and remind me of the good things I am doing pushes me through those dark days.
Self-care can be about just being me
For just a little while, I want to be me. Not a mum or a wife, but me. I want to take slow walks, read a book, take a long shower and wash my hair. Most weekdays I rise before 6am and sneak out of the house and go to the gym or for a run. I listen to my music and I let it out. It is easy to forget who I was before kids and marriage. By taking a walk alone, a coffee uninterrupted, sitting in the garden or working out at the gym I rediscovered who I was but how I have grown and now I flourish
Ways you can self-care:
- Pick up a regular hobby
- Join a community group or club
- Practice meditation or yoga
- Learn to ask for help
- Eat healthy
- Have a warm bath
- Read a book
- Meet a friend for coffee and a catch up without the kids
- Find the time to be by yourself and do something for you
- Pamper yourself with beauty treatments
- Take a walk or do some regular exercise
- Think positively and proactively about all you have achieved