Mum’s Manual to Self-Care

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Number #3 is exceptionally essential

In 2014, an advert for the world’s toughest job went viral. The position of Director of Operations was advertised in newspapers and online platforms, and they narrowed down to 24 candidates for real interviews. Some of the requirements included:

  • Must be able to be constantly on their feet and bending over.
  • Frequent self-exertion required – must maintain a high level of stamina.
  • Starting from 135 hours a week, but the candidate is expected to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • No breaks or holidays available.
  • Requires excellent negotiation and interpersonal skills.
  • A degree in medicine, finance and the culinary arts required.
  • Associate requires constant attention, and at times, the candidate would be expected to stay up with the associate.
  • The position will pay absolutely nothing, and there will be no benefits.

Of course, the first reaction from the candidates was just how inhumane this job is. The interviewer rebuttals by revealing that billions of people globally already hold this position; mothers.  While this was a campaign for Mother’s Day that year, the message rings true till today. Mothers dedicate a lot of their love, time, resources and energy to those around them; often at the expense of their own wants and needs.

For many mums, self-care is one of the hardest things. Unfortunately, they have the notion that making themselves a priority is akin to selfishness. On the contrary, it’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself, family and society at large.

The truth is, if you want to take care of others, you have to be in a good place first. Failure to do so results in burn-out, exhaustion, illness and anxiety; among others. And here’s the big veracity, you do not exist purely to serve others. You’re still a multifaceted individual, who doesn’t deserve to be at the bottom of their own to-do list. Here’s how you can start bettering yourself:

Put Me-Time in Your Schedule

Schedule time off in your calendar to make it a very real scenario. Once it’s in the diary, it should be adhered to and not rescheduled unless it’s an emergency. Some self-care activities you can indulge in during this time includes going for massages or walks in nature, creating something with your hands such as painting or writing, meditating, or trying that new restaurant you’ve been hearing about.

Prioritize Sleep

Most mums, especially new mothers, sacrifice their own precious sleep to make sure everything gets done or taken care of. It’s not just your mood that takes a dive, thanks to chronic sleep deprivation. Constantly draining the energy required to get through the day, starts to take a toll on your health. You increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and depression.

Give Up the Guilt

Spending time and resources on yourself is easier said than done. There will be a little voice in your head telling you, you shouldn’t be doing this. That you should be busy doing something or helping someone. Take note of this internal dialogue also known as ‘mum guilt’. Remind that voice that doing things for yourself will create the positive energy you need to support your loved ones.

Treat Your Body with Love

Start with nutrition. Listen to what your body needs and feed it accordingly. You’ll find that once you stop relying on sugar and caffeine to get through the day, and switch to a healthy nutritious diet, you’ll start to feel really good. You’ll find that your energy and vibrancy lasts longer throughout the day. This also means factoring in exercise regimes that keep you fit and able to keep up with your youngsters.

Keep Those Appointments

You always make sure that your kids make it for their dentist appointments and general check-ups. So why don’t you even schedule your vital annual exams? Moreover, why do you ignore all your body signs and refuse to seek medical attention when you fall ill? The more you put off your health, the more likely things could take a bad turn; making things worse. Your health is a priority.

Protect Your Identity

Mother’s tend to forget who they used to be before having children. Remember, the children will leave the nest eventually. When this happens after years of sacrificing your identity, you’ll be left with a shell of your former self. So, identify the things you like to do. Write them down so that you can refer to them, should you start to only identify as a mother. Read, journal and pursue your passions, but also plan more adult outings. Mums tend to disconnect from their old circle of female friends when they get their first child. But it is important to work and maintain these female friendships.

Practice Self-Compassion

Don’t compare yourself to other mums out there. First, you need to ditch the quest for perfection to the curb. Stay informed with emerging parenting information and advice, but don’t feel compelled to follow or act on it if it doesn’t work for your family. And most importantly, stop saying unkind things to others about yourselves or entertaining mean thoughts. Everyone is imperfect, makes mistakes and struggles with something. You’re doing the best you can; believe that!

Be Honest

If you need assistance or are overwhelmed, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Receiving help doesn’t mean you’re weak. If anything, it gives the people around you the opportunity to express their love for you and your children. Having self-care and mummy apps on your phone isn’t’ cheating either. Lastly, learn how to say no. This complete sentence will aid in building boundaries that will prevent you from stretching yourself thin.

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