I promote self-care through my meet ups and in my daily life. I aim to practise it every day. But sometimes, even I will admit that it is really hard. The last fortnight or so, both my kids have been ill and not sleeping. My son’s clinginess reached new heights – if I stepped more than 2 steps away from him the wailing began! Evenings weren’t even evenings, just a continuation of the day because neither kids were sleeping properly. Trying to find the energy to juggle part time work too while feeling sleep deprived and run down is never fun either is it?!
I’m sure you can relate to this. Of not having that much needed time for yourself. These times that we know are just a phase. Except they don’t seem like a phase when you’ve been up half the night then somehow have to find the energy and mental strength to do it all again the next day. For me, it’s that voice in my head that tells me, you can’t cope with this, this is too much for you, how are you going to get through the day? That voice shouts the loudest when I’m tired and my self-care reserves are low, so I believe it. But the truth is, I can cope, because I do. I mean the evidence is there, that I cope but somehow I find it so easy to buy into that negative voice. And we all do. Maybe that voice is my body telling me that I need help and I can’t do it all on my own, rather than doubting my ability as a mum.
How can we get through these especially tough times?
In amongst all of the chaos, we still need to find the time for self-care. And that will look different every day. And it’s supposed to, I mean every day is different and brings its own challenges. For me, in the end, I realised my kids would scream if I was there and scream if I wasn’t there. So I left my husband to it and went out to HotPod Yoga, went out for dinner with my friends, and went to an event that I’d booked weeks ago (not all in one night obvs!). And I’m glad I did, because, I had the chance to destress, relax, catch up with friends, to be Jenna and not mummy, and to meet new people too.
Being realistic and accepting your situation helps. I’m someone who has a history of setting unrealistically high expectations and then inevitably gets disappointed when those expectations aren’t met. Then out pops that negative inner critic…why couldn’t you manage to do that, what is wrong with you, if only you had organised your day better, if only you had have done everything quicker…sound familiar?!
Can we change this relentless inner critic? We can try to recognise our emotions and let ourselves feel them, instead of trying to numb them. We can try to say to ourselves- OK, this situation isn’t great and actually it’s making me feel drained, overwhelmed, all my patience is gone and actually I’m not enjoying motherhood much at all right now. And that is OK to say that. That thinking this doesn’t make us a bad mum or mean that there is something wrong with us.
I mean I would be a liar if I sat here and said I love every part of being a mother. I don’t. I love my kids and I do my absolute best for them, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be truthful about the very real emotions that I feel – often all at once and throughout the day. Boredom, relentlessness, frustration, loneliness mixed in with joy, excitement, laughter, contentment and love. Boredom when I’m sitting on my phone pointlessly scrolling social media while Peppa Pig is on repeat in the background, love when I see how excited my daughter is at getting on the train, joy when my son says a new word, frustration when my daughter is just not listening to me….these rollercoaster of emotions that we have, often from the moment we wake up, all day then throughout the night too, it’s no wonder we are drained and exhausted.
And that’s why self-care is so important. Turning those moments into self-care. Reading my Kindle or listening to a podcast with a cuppa while the kids are watching TV, booking myself on to an exercise class that I enjoy so I’ve got something to look forward to and to get those endorphins flowing (a great way to combat all of the stress in your body). Reaching out to a friend to arrange a catch up, so that I have that connection when I feel lonely. Taking 3 deep breaths when my daughter isn’t listening to me and walking away, instead of getting myself more and more annoyed and adding fuel to the fire. Asking for help. Getting some fresh air even if it’s just going out into the garden.
Can you find a way to give yourself permission to be kind and compassionate to yourself? In amongst the caring you are doing for everyone else, don’t let yourself get lost and put to the bottom of the list. You deserve to show yourself the same kind of love and care that you show to others.