As a first-time mum I can vouch for the fact nothing can prepare you for how hard motherhood is. That’s not to say that I regret it for a single second but it’s easy to lose touch with who you were pre-baby.
When my maternity leave ended I went back to work part-time. On top of working three days a week, I spend 12 hours a week commuting, I take my son to Baby Aquatics and an open gymnastics session for little ones, then there’s the housework, food shopping, soft play and trips to the park. Oh, and I blog. So, as you can imagine, there’s not an awful lot of room for me-time.
I’ve recently come to the realisation that it’s ok to admit that you need a break. And I insist you take one. Regularly. It might seem hard to do – the idea of having a child-free hour once a week sounds nigh on impossible, between work, household chores and raising your bundle of love but, believe me, it can be done. In fact, I’m here to tell you that you can take some time for yourself every single day! Here are my seven simple self-care tips for mums.
1. Get your caffeine fix.
You’re lucky if your child will sit still for more than five minutes at a time but most will have that one thing that will let you drink a whole cup of coffee while it’s still warm. For us it’s Frozen. If I’m desperate for a caffeine fix I pop it on and Jenson is mesmerised for a good 20 minutes. Bliss!
2. Slow down.
There are always days when you can’t help rushing around – baby groups, doctors appointments, shopping – but if you haven’t got a set time to be somewhere just slow down a bit. Grab a coffee (coffee is key!) with another mum after play group and have a good bitch and moan. The children can entertain themselves and that half an hour of sharing your stories with someone else can keep you going for days. I would have been lost over the last two years without the amazing women I’ve met through pregnancy yoga, antenatal classes and Baby Aquatics.
Eventually you get used to being tired all the time but your body will tell you when you need some extra shut eye. Come the end of the day it’s normally a mad rush to get everything done that you couldn’t do while your baby was awake – laundry, dishes, tidy the toys away – but sometimes you just have to leave it and get an early night. You’re no good to anyone if you’re exhausted and have no energy and you’ll feel so much better for it in the morning.
4. Netflix and chill.
It can be hard to find 90+ minutes to watch a film but TV shows are that bit easier. Pick a series to lose yourself in – it’s great getting lost in another world every now and then. Right now I’m watching This Is Us – also handy if you need a regular emotional release! I recommend Gilmore Girls for something more ‘feel good’.
5. Get your hair did.
Always have to take the little one into the bathroom with you? One day a week, when your partner is home, or you’ve got a friend over, take an extra five minutes in the shower and condition your hair rather than just shampoo it. The time it takes for the conditioner to soak in will give you a few minutes to enjoy a breather and some peace and quiet.
6. Be inspired.
If you were a particularly creative person pre-baby it can be difficult to keep up with those passions when you spend every second with your child. There are simple ways to stay inspired, however, thanks to blogs, YouTube and podcasts; there are so many bite-size pieces of inspiration and motivation out there. Have a podcast on in the background while you’re at home with your child or pop on some headphones and watch a TEDTalk while you’re lying in bed. You’ll soon get a fresh burst of creativity.
7. Unleash your inner child.
Believe it or not but you can actually practice self-care while playing with your child. A lot of people recommend a cuddle with a friendly dog but for me there’s nothing better than the sound of my son’s laughter. Let go of everything that you need to get done and unleash your inner child. The days are long but the years are short, so get down on the floor and build that train track, pile those bricks and colour that picture.
Trust me, it’s good for you and your child if you learn to look after yourself a bit more.