Calling all mums! Do you feel like you get enough me-time? Sadly, often the answer to that question for many mums is usually a big “no.” From the moment you have that new baby in your arms, you’re juggling a thousand things a minute. That doesn’t leave much time for self-care.
In this article, mum of two Clio Pope has come up with some ways you can squeeze some much-needed ‘you time’ into your hectic daily life.
Self-care can be easily forgotten
Being a mum means …
I get it. I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old. I’ve been on duty for 13-hour “shifts” every day since lockdown and childcare went out of the window. And I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband is completely down with the whole working together as parents thing. For other mums I know, their partner leaves the childcare mostly, if not entirely to them.
But even in my fortuitous circumstances, the arrangements in the home are typical of the UK at large. My husband works all week. I work flexibly and fit childcare around my job. You only need to read articles about mum’s shouldering the majority of the childcare and housework in lockdown to see that this is a common issue.
This is not an article on mental health, but …
Although this article isn’t about mum’s mental health per se, it’s interesting to see how these things tie together. Studies reveal that 70% of mums have experienced mental health problems during or after pregnancy. And this isn’t just down to the disproportionate split of childcare. A trend that’s only been highlighted by Coronavirus but has been a reality for much longer. It’s also the emotional load we experience.
So, what can we do about it?
Here’s the good news. Being aware of all this stuff is step one. You are not alone. Secondly, finding ways to make things easier are within reach. One big way to do this is to schedule more me-time as a mum.
Some of this will come down to clever planning, recognising mum-guilt, and negotiating with your partner (if you have one.) It can also be hard to remember or engage with your passions and hobbies after becoming a parent. It’s about reconnecting with those and finding space just for you.
Here are five ways you can do that, starting today:
Bath time isn’t just for babies!
Image by https://unsplash.com/@avasol
I used to love going out. For almost five years, staying in has been my new going out. I used to feel guilty about that, but now, I honestly just relish the time to recuperate. And a day of being covered in sick (early baby days,) to yoghurt, to who-knows-what-that-is makes a bath even more attractive.
Baths are a great place to read a magazine, soak your aching feet, and pamper yourself all in one go. Indulge in face masks. Read your kindle and try not to drop it in the water. Pour yourself a glass of wine to prop on the edge if you fancy. Just make it all about you. Even if it’s just for twenty minutes.
There’s walking. Then there’s mindful walking
Image by @yirage
Speaking of twenty minutes, that can be all you need to reset in the middle of the day should things get too much. When my babies were little, I spent hours traipsing along with the pushchair. In all weathers, I may add. The fresh air cleared my head, even on those difficult days.
But even better, try and get out alone or with a friend, without the kids, if you can. Just a small window of time outside the home will give you a super-boost. You may even want to try mindfulness while you’re out. There are mindful walking meditations, or you can find a quiet place for 10 minutes and sit down for a guided meditation.
Schedule a cuppa
Anyone else get to mid-morning and realise the kids have had breakfast, a snack, and a fancy updo (courtesy of you,) and you have even got round to drinking a glass of water? We talk a lot about routines for our little ones but forget to schedule in things for ourselves.
Something as simple as a cuppa and a chapter of your book can feel blissful during the chaos. If you have a pre-toddling baby, stave the mum-guilt, and set them on the playmat for 10 minutes while you have a coffee. They’ll be fine! And if your kids are older, find a time in the week where this is possible. It might mean negotiating with your partner to get a few minutes alone. But it’ll be worth it.
See friends, solo
Hooponopono (Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash)
You might not always fancy a night out, but it’s still good to see friends. If you’ve gone through a hard time pre, or post-baby, they can help you remember what it’s like to be yourself. This one can feel hard sometimes. In the beginning, you might come to the realisation that you’ve been talking about sleep training for half an hour in a sort of daze.
But if that happens, stick with it. True friends love you no matter what. And our sleep-addled brains can make us feel a bit discombobulated at times. Either way, seeing people outside your family unit will allow you to come back to the home refreshed and “more you.”
Get creative. No, not by watching the CBeebies app …
Meraki (Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash)
Did you have a hobby or a passion before you had kids? Well now is the time to indulge in it again! Even if you didn’t particularly, you might want to try something new. Journaling is a powerful way to help your mental health. Or, you might want to start writing a children’s book, knitting, or mindful colouring.
Whatever you choose to spend time on, remember this is just for you. It’s something you can lose yourself in and maybe even explore your thoughts and feelings at the same time. You may have to hand over child supervision to do this one, but that golden twenty minutes may be all you need. Or, schedule it in at the end of the day to soothe your frazzled mind.