Ok, so I know the title doesn’t make a lot of sense but I’m pretty sure all my readers out there are clever enough to work out what my fractured saying is alluding to. To be honest I don’t really subscribe to the idea that we (as humans) let-alone self-sacrificing Mothers are ever number 1, in-front of or above any other person, but after many years (16 in fact) of putting myself last when it comes to basic human needs, I do subscribe to the idea that every now and then we need take some time to make our needs a priority.
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up and carried away with making sure every person in our family has been taken care of, that we have no time left for ourselves, so we start to wear out and break down (see ‘Mum Life Burnout: 5 ways it can effect you and your family‘). Our spirits start to wither and wilt like a flower in the noon day sun and then our family gets a watered-down version of the Super-mum they know and love.
I read a blog post the other day by Nicole (sorry couldn’t find a last name), Writer of the blog ‘The Mum Reviews‘ entitled ‘7 self-care ideas make you a happier mum‘, which I found interesting. Her suggestions on how to take care of yourself as a Mum are as follows:
1. Buy yourself little treats that help you slow down and appreciate life.
2. Carve out kid-free time whatever way you can.
3. Style your hair, do your nails, wear perfume, makeup and nice clothes whenever you want (or not).
4. Have reassuring rituals and routines, but break them sometimes.
5. Use your skills for something other than parenting.
6. Exercise. Seriously, this is non-negotiable.
7. Don’t sweat the petty things.
I agree wholeheartedly with all these suggestions. Even if you can’t find time for all of them, picking one or two a day can help you feel less like your the wheels on and old-fashioned horse cart and more like your the jet engines on a rocket ship, when it comes to running your household. Was that an odd analogy? Well…too bad, I like it so I’m leaving it in. I do have a few suggestions of my own however which I’d like to add to the list (Making it 10):
8. Have one space in the house that is “yours”.
Whether it’s a boudoir (or bedroom) decorated in all your favourite colours and patterns or simply an armchair in the lounge room adorned with your grandma’s crochet blanket, you need a little space that is just for you. Somewhere you can relax in an environment that helps you to recharge. Whether it’s beautiful materials, a vase of flowers, a little window that looks out into the garden or a family heirloom oozing nostalgia that uplifts your soul, find a few things that really make “your place” an enticing place to spend your kid-free time.
9. Spend time with friends.
I’m a big believer in community. Whether your a socialite with a thousand Facebook followers or a withdrawn introverted hermit with 2 cats (and the kids), you’ll most likely find that you feel more ‘alive’ after a bit of social interaction. Sure you have one or two or three (etc etc) children with a million questions and irrelevant “facts” to chatter in your ear all day but spending massive amounts of time conversing with the younger (much younger) generation can be exhausting. If your not lucky enough to have a spouse to offload to at the end of the day (or even if you do), spending just 10 minutes or longer in adult conversation with someone who ‘gets it’ can be a lifesaver to an exhausted, strung-out Mum listening to the 10th hour of “we’re in the wiggle house”.
10. Time to think.
So you may say “but I’m always thinking, all day, every day, about everything!” but what are you thinking about? What to cook for dinner? How to make healthier meals for the kids lunch boxes? How to organize your linen cupboard so that you can find the pillowcases that match your doona cover? My guess is that most of the thoughts that go through your head in a day are about everyone else and the house, am I right? Whilst these things are very important, you need some time to think about what makes you happy or could potentially make you happy. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, prayer can also be a great way to unwind and let go of burdens and things that weigh you down. Taking care of your mental and spiritual health is another vital part of self-care.
So those are my suggestions to add to the list of ways YOU as a mum can look after the one who looks after everyone else. If your not a Mum, then these can be great suggestions you can offer a Mum that you know who is feeling worn-out and overwhelmed. I can honestly attest to the fact that not looking after yourself as a Mother can lead to burn-outs, break-downs and poor physical and mental health, with problems like anger, exhaustion, depression and anxiety. You MUST find a way to take care of YOU, so YOU can properly take care of your family.
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