Are you in need of some serious selfcare as a mum? Does your wellbeing feature as a priority in your schedule? I’m guessing not. And I can relate, as mum of a six and four-year-old a lot of my time is spent in a state of slight agitation or exasperation at the sheer immensity of the challenge of keeping these little humans whom I love more than life itself alive, happy and thriving.
Here are my top tips for boosting wellbeing with some easy self-care practices you can fit into a busy day of mum duties and juggling homework and life. I’m not talking about the odd spa day here and there, these are thing we can do on a regular basis to feel happier and find more balance. I think of these super strategies as the 6 ‘m’s to managing motherhood! these 7 magic ‘m’s are: Membership, Meditation & Mindfulness, Movement, Media Time Management, Mental Break, and Massage!
Being a mum is a tough job and I’ll be honest my stress levels have never been so high. Having survived the physical marathon of pregnancy, attempted breast feeding, babywearing and cloth nappy wearing (and washing) AND sleep deprivation over literally years we are now into battles with food fussiness, hours to settle to sleep at night, school runs and constant sibling squabbles.
Now don’t get me wrong with motherhood comes the immense rewards. Intense love like you’ve never known before and moments of sheer joy that make it all worthwhile. But I think it’s common that for many mums there is an inevitable slide in our standards of self-care. Be it through lack of time, financial resources or even just the shift in focus from ourselves to being responsible for caring for these little new extensions of us, that takes precedence over everything.
Plus, physically it can be impossible to get even 5 minutes to yourself unless the little darling is sleeping right? by which time we collapse in a heap and either immediately fall asleep ourselves or binge on Netflix till far too late just to savour no-one demanding anything from us. I mean you can’t go to the loo in peace, oh no. God forbid you try to shower alone, all hell breaks loose!
So, hair appointments don’t get booked, the makeup routine becomes about speed and hiding all your stuff so that the mascara or lippy doesn’t end up smeared all over your child’s face, the wall and into the carpet. And a luxurious soak in the tub just doesn’t cut it for relaxation because inevitably a small person will wake up and insist on joining you. (Although to be fair me and my girls love bubble baths together, but they are NOT relaxing lol).
But NOT honouring your own needs physically, emotionally and mentally erodes your core sense of self and your health. And it’s not only detrimental to ourselves but to everyone in the family too! You get ill, grumpy and shouty. Or at least I do.
So, given these difficulties what can be done to maintain and even excel in the self-discipline of self-care once you’re a mum!? Because that’s what it is. Discipline. It’s the easy option to not bother, to tell ourselves we don’t have time, money or you must put everyone else first.
Here’s 6 strategies you can try!
1) Spa Membership
Well OF COURSE this one’s going to be first on the list. I am the Spa Diva after all and it’s my all-time favourite thing to do (as well as fun times with my kiddiewinks of course) And this particular version of Spa attendance I could literally enthuse over for hours. But don’t worry I won’t (I’ll save that for another post 😉 ha-ha!) In my opinion a spa membership is one of the best ways you can prioritise your mental physical and emotional wellbeing.
Yes, I know it’s an expense that feels a like a luxury but is it really? Let’s look at other areas of life, how many of us spend close to £100 a month on a tv package subscription? …. hell, in my opinion Netflix has the best kids channel selection anyway and enough box sets to keep you and your partner not missing the premium channel services. So why not save that extra money and put it towards a membership where you can go once or a few times a week even and enjoy some nurturing, warm, soothing space, time and peace for yourself to restore your superwoman powers and live to fight another day as a happier calmer mum.
I was at a Spa the other day and chatting with a lovely lady in the changing rooms who was a local member. She made me chuckle in complete solidarity when she said she was in getting her few hours ‘me time’ before the school run for fortify her to cope with the weekend!
Often a membership where spa access and a discount on treatments is only £30 -40 more a month than a standard gym membership and honestly worth every penny! If you’re lucky you might even have a sports facility at a local college that includes a spa if the college teaches beauty therapy. Rare but a gem if you have one nearby.
Check out hotels with sizable gyms and spas that may (if they have switched on management) offer memberships that include spa access. I’ll do a post on what to look for and choosing the best membership for you soon, you can sign up for the email notifications to get new blog updates on my home page 🙂
2) Meditation & Mindfulness
Meditation has been scientifically proven* to reduce anxiety, decrease stress levels and improve our ability to remain calm, focused and compassionate. All essential when dealing with our kids whom we love dearly but let’s face it they can be so annoying it drives us to distraction! Even starting with just 5 minutes a day can give you a little boost and has an accumulative effect I find.
I love guided mediations on YouTube and the wonderful website from Natalie McNeal Soulseconds.com. There are also loads of apps that can help you discover and build a mediation practice that works for you. Before I go to sleep is the easiest for me and I find deeply relaxing. Great to help you let go of the day.
Mindfulness is a bit of a 2017 buzz word but what does it really mean and how can you use it? Often, it’s practiced through meditation and again there are apps around. I’ve just learnt about this one for mums called but more simply than this, to me it means stopping to take some time to focus on the moment, living in the now, looking around and being deeply grateful for what we have. Letting go of regrets of the past or worries for the future and just BEING now.
I tend to do this when I take the girls to the park. Luckily, they are old enough now to run around and play quite independently so I can just listen to the wind in the trees and watch the clouds go by. And often on the way to and from the park we play the grateful game, which goes like this…we take turns to say, ‘I’m so grateful for…..and then list a thing, person, opportunity, experience or other blessings in our lives that bring us joy!’ the girls are so good at this game, it’s humbling to hear what they come out with. Give it a try.
Moving your body, especially outdoors in nature is a wonderful way to improve your wellbeing and make you feel great almost instantly. And finding exercise that you enjoy and actually want and look forward to doing is the key to doing it regularly for anyone. Some people like to run or Zumba or swim.
I love yoga and stretching generally, which is great for mums particularly as you can do it at home with the kids around. Yes, they clamber on you and it won’t be the deepest calmest meditative practice, but something is better than nothing and you are teaching them good ways to use their body too! We like Cosmic Kids on Amazon Prime for story telling sessions where they really get into trying the poses and it gives you a mini workout too.
Finding little slots of time to move your body takes effort but the reward is a boost of yummy endorphins that can match a G&T or wine without the calories (although I’m not saying don’t do those too, I love a good Chardonnay).
Scheduling exercise into your weekly routine with a class or something that takes you away from the house is ideal for giving yourself a break from mummy duties as well as keeping healthy or getting back to being pre-pregnancy fit.
If you don’t have partner or family who can look after the kids, there are gyms around with creches so that’s an option or maybe arrange a regular playdate with a friend and take turns to go off and do some solo exercise whilst the other has the kids.
5) Give yourself a Mental break!
In short, I advocate the following strategies:
Go with flow. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Screw what anyone else thinks & quit the mummy guilt!
In several ways you can lessen your stress levels by managing what you are thinking about and acting upon. It’s easy for me to say ‘care less about what others think. But try considering ‘Does it matter?’ more…. i.e. if your kid has matching socks on for example. If you have to take 20 minutes of trying to find them and not to mention, then the battle to get them on.
In our house it’s mismatched, sockless (unless it’s -degrees out obvs!) whatever works to get out the door, I try to go with the flow. This is said as a former perfectionist when it came to baby outfits with my first to ‘don’t give a damn about matching stuff’ with the second.
Let go of the little things that you may perceive to make you ‘look’ like a good parent or not, because most of the time they really don’t matter.
Let go of stress that’s not entirely necessary because plenty of it comes with the territory anyway so don’t add to your own load. ‘Judgy ‘people aren’t your friends anyway so why worry what they think!
As for mummy guilt: omgosh! it sneaks up on you when you know with all rationality there’s no need but, yet we suffer with it over the slightest thing right? I embarrassingly once cried at preschool drop off when realised I hadn’t made my daughter an Easter bonnet and still feel a bit bad about that to this day. But these things happen.
We care so much it hurts our hearts to ever think that our actions or inactions might negatively affect our children’s wellbeing or happiness. And most of the time the kids are fine, or it’s easily fixed or forgotten. So, you feel it, we all do, but let it pass and let go, try not to dwell or fret. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique. also known as tapping) can be a great tool too for working through any type of worry to reduce negative emotions or anxiety.
5) Media Time Management
Have you got a cell phone habit? I’m guilty as charged as many of us are. The thing is what your kids want more than anything is your attention and our smart phones are at risk of robbing them of this. Cue that mummy guilt! But it’s an easy fix, I always feel way better when I make myself get on the floor and give undivided attention to playing with my kids, even for ten minutes.
Pick something non-boring that you can take the lead on and get involved with. My 4 and 6-year-old love a family game of Disney Princess Guess Who or to organise all the Shopkins into colours and take turns in giving them funny names. It’s good for the soul to be a kid again sometimes and your little ones love it!
Set yourself certain times of day to check and enjoy a bit of social media and put your phone away the rest of the time. Also, time them when the kids aren’t likely to be needing you and asking for things. I know these times can be few and far between and age dependant this can vary as to when / how.
If you still get nap time breaks great, if not pre-empt the wants and requests and set them up with snacks, drinks, toys or other entertainment or their meal if they can eat nicely, you should hopefully be able to grab a few uninterrupted minutes to catch up on your favourite platforms.
Often as mums to small clingy children we can get ‘touched’ out! but don’t discount the theraputic benfits of some healing touch to actually restore your sense of self. Getting regular massage treatment is so good for you physically and emotionally it’s worth considering building it into you regular selfcare routine. And there are so many types to try, why not challenge yourself to trying a new type every month for fun and to discover your favourite!
Be it a traditional Swedish full body massage, a yoga inspired Thai one, flowing Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, my favourite hot stone massage or other holistic treatments like Indian Head Massage or Reflexology …
it’s going to be balancing to body and mind and beneficial in many ways. Massage is scientifically proven to boost your immune system, reduce anxiety, stress and depression, reduce inflammation and pain and improve sleep quality. **
Also doing massage in the home is amazing for bonding and teaching your kids about positive touch and relaxation. Let them give you head tickles and back rubs for fun, massage their hands & feet when you’re having cuddles or to help them sleep. Baby massage is amazing and teaching classes to new mums was one of my favourite businesses! Not all babies love it, my first didn’t, my second did but keep trying over time as there are so many applications for it over the years as they grow.
I hope some of these ideas help you look at your own self-care from a new perspective, I’m sure many of you are already trying some of these practices at least occasionally, so I encourage you to do them more and really work them into your daily and weekly routine.
Spa on Mummas you’re doing a great job and you deserve it!
Love, light and bubbles,
The Spa Diva xx