If you said ‘self-care’ to me post-child I’d have said, ‘Er yeah, ok, where do I have an hour to get to an exercise class, read, watch a film…?!’. I loved nothing more than sitting quietly and reading a book, in the bath = even better. I thoroughly enjoyed gym classes, I liked ‘pottering around’ at home, getting a pedicure, taking the dog for long walks, meeting friends and family, rolling out my yoga mat... Sure, back then I’d take an hour or two, maybe more on any of those activities; didn’t we all!?
Each parent has their own unique circumstances….some parents can fill their self-care cup and re-energise while their other half watches the kids, some may call in babysitting help, some cannot. Ultimately, there are always ways to touch-base with our hobbies and self-care practice, even if it looks NOTHING like it did many moons ago! We MUST get clever and time savvy post-child and tailor our practice, and that’s what I did. Well, I did once I’d figured out the following:
I could feel it bubbling in the pit of my stomach, rearing its unwanted head and trying to make me self-sabotage any attempt at self-care. It takes on different forms and guises and affects us in a multitude of ways, but I would still place a large bet on the fact that most of you know exactly what I am talking about. How does guilt show up for me? Anxiety,nerves, restlessness, excessive worries about leaving baby and dad at home, possible self-sabotage…
Here’s a true story; I once rushed home after a pedicure KNOWING FULL WELL I’d smudge the varnish BUT thinking, ‘heck, you deserve that, who cares if your nails now look like they’ve been painted by a 2 year old, fancy leaving kiddo at home and trying to treat yourself – how selfish!!!’. We preach to our little ones ‘be nice, treat others kindly, love yourself’, yet internally I was not modelling that to myself!
I basically GAVE UP reading until fairly recently. How ridiculous does that sound? I became a victim, stating ‘I can’t even read anymore, I shouldn’t read anything enjoyable, I’ll have to wait until my kid is a teenager, oh poor me, and how I loved reading…’. See how that didn't serve me?
Why oh why do we feel so guilty (conduct your own experiment if you aren’t sure) despite knowing that we are a MUCH better version of our selves (parent, friend, significant other…) if we get sometime to do a few things for us? Why, why, why do we not tend to our own needs???
TIME IS JUST A NUMBER.
So, how did things eventually turnaround for me, and what does myself-care practice look like now with a pre-schooler home midnight to midnight?
So what if I loved hiking for 3 hours, NOW I am going to love walking in my neighbourhood with baby in pram, baby in carrier, toddler pushing her doll buggy…that lasted 15 minutes you say? Ok, I’ll take it.
So what if I was a total bookworm devouring a novel in aday, NOW I am going to read a few chapters at night (with red filter activated) while baby sleeps, toddler jumps around bed, child states ‘I am not tired and I won’t lie down’ [Charlie and Lola-style])…that only lasted 1 chapter you say? Ok, I’ll take it.
So what if I threw myself into a 1 hour practice of yoga uninterrupted, NOW I will do a few poses while baby is next to me rolling around, I'll do yoga with my pre-schooler or attempt a 10 minute yoga video while she watches her Kiddy Yoga show...that only lasted 5 minutes you say? I’ll take it.
My imperfect self-care practice is PERFECT for me.
Give your mind a helping hand.
Ultimately, a lot of my change of heart and change of perspective comes from pivoting my thoughts away from guilt, lack, and excuses, towards abundance and gratitude. What does that mean? It means that I can look at the smaller things as actual, real, proper, true self-care (see 1 minute list below); I could not do that before. As a natural by-product, I am then lighter, happier, more abundant and present for my daughter and husband. I can also find a bit more inner peace and I'm more accepting of day-to-day delights and obstacles, because I have given myself some self-care! I am less negative, a little more rested, more fun, less tetchy….oh, and I have, for that day, severed my ties with Mrs. Guilt. Does it work every day? No, but a practice is just that......keep practicing.
1 minute (to 5 minute) self-care practices that work for us: