Worn out by motherhood? Here are some simple things you can do to bring the skip back to your step.
Firstly, I don’t think anyone should feel obligated to be sparkly all the time. Even the most positive people or the happiest of relationships have days when everything’s a bit blah. Beating yourself up for sub-par sparkle will only serve up more meh.
Women in particular have to factor in all those hormones that cycle around, tipping you off your happy bike with tedious regularity. Waning enthusiasm is part of human nature, and if we didn’t have the droopy days, the good ones wouldn’t be so good.
In the video below, psychologist Collet Smart talks about strategies we can take to prevent parental burnout.
Taking control of your time, including periods of self-care, is very important for mothers to consciously and actively prioritise. We often think of self-care as a luxury when in fact, without it, the whole family suffers. Mum’s self-care is not a selfish act. It is not healthy for a frayed, exhausted mum to keep pushing herself to do more.
Yes, there will always be things that need doing, so how do we learn to prioritise and incorporate periods of self-care?
- Schedule self-care into your weekly or monthly activities.
- Keep it practical, simple and doable. Self-care involves activities that you find good for your body and your soul. Those things that bring you joy.
- Make a mental (or written) list of both short and longer activities that you can realistically add to your time schedule. Anything from five minutes to an hour or half a day.
Here are some examples of self-care, but if you feel like you are still too short for time, read on for author Meg Bignell’s 10 easy self-care tips that won’t take up much time:
- Once a week, light a scented candle (meant only for you) to use while you take a bath after the kids are in bed.
- Listen to your favourite music for 10 minutes after you have dropped the kids at school.
- Sit with a cup of tea on the patio in the morning before everyone wakes up. Savour the stillness.
- Make sure you eat well.
- Get your body moving. Go for a solo walk around the neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon or lock the door, put a short movie on for the kids and do some light stretches.
- Swap childminding with a friend once a month so that you can each have a few hours to go for a massage, have a long nap, go shopping or read a book uninterrupted.
- Keep connected with a good friend of two. Sharing our lives with girlfriends is a healthy stress release.
- Plan in advance for one or two longer periods of time to yourself each year.
- Pick up a hobby or activity you love but have neglected.
10 easy self-care tips
Here are 10 strategies Meg deploys if she feels her bundle dropping.
This one’s obvious. I’m still trying to make up for the sleep deficit that comes with having three children under four, so if I slip behind on the snooze hours, everything suffers. Clean sheets help, but don’t get too fussy about sheets or other things in the bedroom department will suffer. It’s a tricky balance.
2. Get your hair done
Sure-fire instant sparkler. Unless (as I recently experienced) someone overdoes the toner and you walk out with lavender-coloured hair. “Mum! Why is your hair purple?” Go to the eyebrow bar after your hair appointment for an extra sparkle-
3. Wash the car
A grubby, smelly car makes me feel dysfunctional.
4. Don’t buy those single-seater recliner chairs unless you’re moving into a nursing home
Passion killers. Those chairs eliminate the possibility of any late-night couch snuggling and are the step before separate beds. Stay on the couch with your partner when you watch telly, side by side, preferably touching.
5. Be a decent person
Don’t lose yourself to forced selflessness, but if you stay kind, do the right thing, be honest, don’t succumb to unnecessary gossip, read to your children and leave the loo tidy for the next person—you’ll feel better about yourself. Self-respect shows in people’s faces—you can see it in the mirror and reflected in the people around you.
Relevant: 3 things you probably overlooked when it comes to self-care and loving yourself
6. Stay engaged
Do stuff. Connect with your community, read the papers, listen to music, read books, go to the theatre and to your local agricultural show. Ignore the ironing and fill yourself up with things to talk about.
7. Go outdoors
I’m very lucky to live on a farm with space for a garden so I’m always outside, but recently I walked the Milford Track in New Zealand with my husband and a group of friends and it was the best. You can’t help but feel alive and sparkly and passionate when you’re immersed in such beauty. (And when you’ve left the children behind.)
8. Leave time for your favourite things
Writing, gardening and singing are my things. If I can’t find time for them I am irritable and unpleasant and very un-sparkly.
9. Wear sparkly shoes
I have a pair of blue sequined Converse Chuck Taylors. I’m way too old for them and I’m pretty sure they don’t incite passion in my husband, but when I wear them I always have a happy time.
10. It’s ok
Don’t worry if you’re not REALLY CHEERY and BUBBLING with JOY all the time!!!!!!! (See how unsettling it is.)
Print a few copies and fill one out each day (or week) to remind you to find things to be grateful for in your day.
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