The eager eyed amongst you might think this blog ‘time for me’ is a bit of a cop out given I’ve previously blogged about ‘time out’ and ‘self-care’ ) Yes, this will be a bit of a mish mash of those blogs. But given the time of year I think it’s important to remind ourselves that as mums we also need to take some time for ourselves.
I’ve had lots of conversations recently with tired mums. On top of the standard work/family/life juggling exercise there’s now the Brucey Bonus of Christmas preparations. I hear “I’ve never left the kids with them”. “I just don’t have enough time”. “I don’t have enough time to do x, y, z for me”. I feel guilty spending time on myself when there’s so much to do”.
There will always be stuff to do. Unless you take time to top up your little glass of joy you’re going to lose your sparkle and start feeling a bit shit.
The need for self-care
I’d never given any thought to the topic of self-care pre small human. I also hadn’t given much thought to it post small human until neglecting it took its toll. Having come out the other side of the most challenging period in my life juggling a professional career, a small human who didn’t sleep well and my tendency to over commit and set unrealistic expectations of myself, I take self-care very seriously.
To be honest the idea didn’t sit easily with me to start with. I’d made my decision to have small humans. Plenty of women juggle many roles so I just needed to pull my socks up and get on with it. I just needed to keep on keeping going. If I had too much on, I would cut back on ‘my time.’ Stopped doing the things I enjoyed for me. I then started to resent not having any time to myself and there it was the ‘mum guilt’ about wanting some time for myself.
If I then had some time to myself I either 1) didn’t know how to stop and what to do with myself or 2) would rush whatever I was doing as I felt guilty from being away spending time on myself! I was my own worst enemy.
How do you just stop doing stuff?
I’ve discussed this with some of my friends and some have commented that they don’t know how to stop or when they do, they don’t know what to do. We could always find something to keep doing around the house. When does this become unproductive if we don’t factor in some time for ourselves? What’s going to happen if we put the ironing on hold for 30 minutes to have a soak in the bath?
When you think about self-care images of beach holidays or spa days may spring to mind. Although I’m always up for a holiday and/or spa day that isn’t realistic on a regular basis so I look for simpler things to help me reset. For me self-care is: An uninterrupted shower, push the boat out and turn that into a bath with a book. A couple chapters of a book. A chick flick snuggled on the sofa. Getting my nails done. Colouring. Blogging. It doesn’t need to be something that takes a long time. Even 5 – 10 minutes to sit down with a hot cuppa and a couple of hobnobs can make a difference.
There will always be time to be found, you just have to look for it. I recently ran a workshop on ‘Work/Life Balance’ for a group of lawyers. I got them to colour in a grid consisting of 7 days/24 hours. It soon became apparent that they were working far longer than their contracted hours, in some cases an extra day’s worth each work! This is a really useful exercise that’s easy to do if you want to identify where your time is being spent.
I’m currently trying to get Chloe to nap more and as a result I’m spending a lot of time in the car, parked up in various places with the engine running. Initially I thought ‘what a waste of time’ but it’s amazing what you can get done when you’ve got no choice but to sit in a car. Smashed through the life admin today and got 30 minutes of a criminal thriller under my belt. I actually don’t mind this ‘phase’ unless I’m confined and need a wee.
Sometimes I do need to ‘take a day’ and I go off to do something, guilt free and not rushed. I know that the children are having a lovely time with their dad and I will feel fully refreshed.
Last Friday I got my mop chopped. 2 ½ hours that took in the hairdressers having my badger streak dyed back to brown and a small dog’s worth of hair chopped off. That was only the 3rd time I’d been this year and I allowed myself to enjoy every minute of it. I thoroughly enjoyed my new shiny hair do for 24 hours until it was wearing 8oz of milk and an undigested satsuma kindly deposited at great speed by a poorly Chloe. But my little glass of joy was topped up so instead of getting frustrated I enjoyed a hot shower with my favourite strawberry smelling shower gel.
Like many things I’ve blogged about to date it really is a work in progress and is taking time. It is not something that has come naturally to me but I absolutely welcome the difference in how I feel. I feel I’m more patient, calmer and don’t sweat the small stuff.
So just remember that Christmas is for you as well. Take some time to go and do something for yourself, treat yourself to something. If creating lists, checking them twice is your way of dealing with Christmas, go for it but make sure there’s something on that list for you as I’m pretty sure you deserve it.
If you’d like some ideas on how to switch off, find some time for yourself or get some inspiration as to what you could do come and join the private Facebook group for a chat with some other mums https://www.facebook.com/groups/2126378154353824/