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

embrace-self-care

Author

When Becky Holland isn't writing, she's chasing her rambunctious two-year-old, sweet pea six-year-old, and newest "baby" Emerson, a mischievous cocker spaniel puppy. She loves early morning jogging and boxing classes, her best friend (who happens to be her husband), reading as many books as she possibly can, and of course - cake. Despite her early mornings, she often finds herself writing peacefully into the wee hours of the night. You can find her writing on Huffington Post, Mamamia, and Mamalode.

3 Comments

  1. I completely agree! I use yoga and meditation for some me time almost every day. It helps me be my better self for everyone else. Great post.

  2. Karyn Kong Reply

    GReat article Becky, all us Mums need that reminder so we know it’s okay that we have needs to be met too, otherwise we can’t do what we do on a daily basis.

  3. Swati Ahuja Reply

    Fabulously written, and such a heartfelt reminder of what we so often intentionally or otherwise forget! And if I am inclined to take delicious slow warm bath today, this is the reason.

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