It’s very easy for a busy mum to be so focused on all the things that have to be done, and caring for everyone else, that they make little time, if any, to look after themselves.
But, looking after yourself should be right up there at the top of the list, shouldn’t it? After all, what happens if you don’t? What happens to a car that you don’t regularly service and keep topped up with oil, water and fuel? Eventually it breaks down.
So, if you find yourself feeling guilty about making your own health and wellbeing a priority, remember that you’ll feel even more guilty if not looking after yourself eventually leads to everything falling apart!
Here are some steps you can start with in caring for YOU –
Once you’ve committed to looking after yourself, start. Don’t put it off. Think about how you can make some changes. Any changes obviously need to fit in with your lifestyle. Start with small things. It’s better to set yourself smaller goals that you’ve a good chance of achieving (and even surpassing) so that you feel motivated, than to set yourself massive goals you may fail to achieve, and feel despondent about.
You could start with:
- Small diet changes – maybe cutting out sugary snacks
- Drinking more water
- How about doing a brisk 30-minute walk every morning, straight after the school drop-off? Or attending a gym circuit twice a week
Just start with something.
Be Kind to Yourself
We’re usually our own worst critics and very good at putting ourselves under pressure, putting ourselves down or focusing on what we haven’t achieved, rather than how much we have. But it’s time to stop!
Would you criticize your best friend? Would you tell them they’re not good enough? No, of course you wouldn’t – so it’s not fair to do it to yourself!
And don’t compare yourself to others. Just focus on being you and being kind to yourself.
Learn to Say No
You can’t do everything and you need to focus on what’s important. You have to focus. Reduce the clutter. Keep it simple.
Your self-care is always a valid excuse to say no. Don’t over-explain or defend your decision. Be graceful and honest. You might say something like: “I’m sorry, but it’s just not possible for me to do that,” or, “I’ll have to decline but thank you anyway.” As you practice saying no, it will get easier. Start now!
Get prepared in the kitchen
Cut out excess salt, sugar and fatty foods. I know from experience that when you’re busy it’s easy to grab the nearest and quickest foods to snack on for an energy boost, often making poor choices. Stock up on healthy foods and snacks that you can nibble on whenever you feel you need some fuel. Set aside a few hours one day a week to cook healthy, nutritious food for you and your family. Great healthy snacks include:
- A handful of unsalted nuts – I buy bags of almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts etc. and keep them in my drawer. Nuts are packed full of potassium, calcium, zinc and vitamin E but remember to control the portion size – 10-15 per serve!
- Bliss or protein balls – I always have a whole lot of these made up in the fridge. The children love them to and they’re the perfect balance of protein and fats.
- Half an avocado. This is delicious, filling and contains nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals.
- Blueberries & yoghurt – Always check the label as some yoghurts are very high in sugar.
- Vegetable sticks with hummus – Vary the colours of the veg for the maximum number of vitamins and antioxidants. Hummus is packed with vitamins B and C, zinc, phosphorus and iron.
- Popcorn – It’s best to buy your own organic popping corn from the supermarket and cook it in a pot with coconut oil and sprinkle some sea salt on top!
Make it a priority
Commit to making it a priority. Decide it is important to look after you. What’s the first thing the air stewards say when they are showing you how to put on your lifejacket in case of an emergency? ‘Put Your Own Life Jacket On First, Before Helping Others’. In other words, you need to take the necessary steps to make sure you are around to help others, by putting your own life jacket on first.