As a busy Mum self-care requires intentional choices, even if that means stepping outside your comfort zone and putting yourself first. The key to feeling healthy, looking great, and living a joyful life while juggling a family and a career is making purposeful choices that feed your body, mind, and soul.
Easier said than done, right?
Most mums feel this “damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I don’t” pressure relating to their decision to work or stay home, and almost all mothers, regardless of work status, struggle with feelings of guilt when they take time away from their children to practice self-care. Most mums have a mile long to-do list, and by default, they often put themselves at the bottom of the list. Sometimes, they don’t even make the list at all.
As mums, we have an opportunity to set a great example for our children of how to be kind to ourselves, and in turn, how to be kind to others. As the saying goes, we can’t pour from an empty cup.
But how do you begin? —especially if you’ve been at the bottom of (or completely missing from) your own “to-do” list for a while?
Put yourself back on the list, be patient with yourself, keep your dreams alive, and treat yourself with the love and compassion that you show others.
To help you kick off your self-care mindset, focus on these six simple self-care ideas and activities to make yourself a priority.
Whether you need to exercise more often or just want to shake up your regular routine, choose activities that motivate you to exercise consistently. Take a yoga class. Join a Mum’s and Bubs exercise class. Buy a Pilates DVD to do at home. Add an element of fun, like having dance parties in the living room with your kids or going roller skating.
Good food fuels your body, so make sure you eat and drink high-quality ingredients. Here are some simple ideas to make healthy eating a habit. Go vegetarian once a week, shop at farmer’s markets for organic produce, cook from scratch more often, drink water instead of soda, keep some carrot or celery sticks in the fridge to nibble on instead of reaching for sugary treats and take some time each week to plan your menu so you can make quick, healthy, easy meals.
Don’t let your busy schedule squeeze out time for family and friends. If weekly date-nights aren’t going to happen then try to at least schedule some time to connect on a regular basis. Make the first Friday of each month date night, for example, or schedule a one-Saturday-morning-a-month coffee date with your friends. Make it a goal to invite neighbours or friends over for dinner at least once a month—and plan on pizza and a movie with everyone’s kids, so you don’t feel the need to full-on “entertain.”
You wouldn’t let your kids miss their annual check-ups—so don’t let your own health fall by the wayside! Ensure you schedule annual checkups, appropriate tests, mammograms, skin exams, pap smears, flu shots, dental checks and vision screenings. And book yourself a one hour vacation each month on a massage table and let your massage therapist sooth those tense muscles and ease those nerves.
Mums often get sucked into the “get-stuff-done-before-the-kids-wake-up” mentality. We know from research studies that chronic lack of sleep has adverse health consequences: people who consistently sleep less than six hours experience increased appetite, which causes weight gain and increases the risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Things to avoid close to bedtime? Stay away from food, alcohol, emotionally upsetting conversations, and stimulants (such as caffeine and nicotine). Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine and remember that the bedroom is for three S’s: sleep, sickness, and sex 😉
As a mum, it’s easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day routines of family life: laundry, preparing meals, paying bills, cleaning, kids activities etc. Before you know it, 10 years have gone by and you’re a shell of your former self. The antidote? Pursue hobbies. Journal. Meditate. Stay abreast of industry trends if you left the workforce. Stay connected with your passions and set aside regular time to pursue them.