If you have a baby at home or young children, chances are that you don’t get much time to yourself or haven’t slept a full night in, well, you can’t remember how long! Self-care is towards the bottom of your to-do list and you’re feeling the effects. You’re tired, weary and your life resembles something like groundhog day. Blue Mountains Mums have compiled a few ideas that might help you to regain balance in your Mum life and restore your sense of well being.
It seems obvious, but taking time for a walk a few times a week (or every day if that is possible) will do wonders for you, and your children too. Pop the kids in a pram or on bikes or scooters and head out the front door. Even better, take advantage of the amazing bushwalks we have in our local area! It’s often easier to stay at home (it takes a lot of effort to organise getting children out the door!) but the boost of vitamin D and exercise will do wonders for your mood and vitality.
Breathing and mindfulness
Breathing is a simple and effective strategy for when we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Taking three minutes, three times a day to stop, breathe and be mindful will lower your stress levels and train your mind to focus, rather than being scattered in ten places at once (which makes us feel overwhelmed).
Here’s how – Choose a number. Take a slow, deep breath in. As you breathe in, imagine the number coming slowly towards you. Hold that breath for a moment and slowly breathe out, picturing the number floating away from you. Repeat at least three times. Before you get out of bed in the morning, breathe. Mid morning, breathe. Late afternoon, before crazy o’clock begins, breathe. Make yourself a cuppa and take three minutes three times a day to stop, close your eyes, breathe, then get on with your day with renewed calmness and focus.
When you’re tired, busy or just need a break from making dinners that require a bunch of pots, pans and equipment, consider a simple and nutritious dinner once in a while. Often it is the most basic dinners, that children love the most. Baked beans and avocado on toast, savoury pancakes, scrambled eggs and frozen veges, tomato soup and macaroni – these ‘level one’ meals are the ones kids often appreciate the most.
One ‘go to’ meal, when pushed for time, is a ‘bit of this, and a bit of that’ – as long as there are carbs, protein and fresh food, it’s all good! A few ideas for this dish: chickpeas, toast, avocado, baked beans, cucumber and carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes cut in half, ham or salami, cheese cubes, apple slices, nuts (for older children without allergies), mac n cheese – voila! A healthy, delicious dinner on a busy night. Even better, there is minimal washing up! Win win!
Hire a cleaner
If this is something you might be able to afford once in a while, getting a cleaner to come in for an hour or two for a little extra help and reprieve with the bathrooms and floors, will give you that little extra rest and a chance to spend more time with your children.
If you are fortunate to have family close by, ask if they might take your children for a few hours (or a full day) once a fortnight for you to take time out for yourself. Call it your self-care day. If there is no family close by or available, perhaps you might pair up with a friend to give one another a little reprieve occasionally. Avoid filling your day up with the thousands of jobs you need to do but instead, sit down in your cosiest chair with your favourite book, a blanket and a cup of tea and just be. No guilt attached. Draw, knit, bake, exercise – whatever relaxes you. Fill your own tank and your family will also reap the rewards.
It is so easy to isolate ourselves when we are busy raising children. We might feel nervous about joining playgroups or meeting new people, but it is essential to connect with other mums in a similar stage of life. Playgroups give us opportunities to talk to and encourage one another. We are fortunate in the Blue Mountains to have so many wonderful playgroups to choose from, from bush playgroups, church playgroups, and community playgroups. Check out our comprehensive list of playgroups in our Community section.
Churches are a great hub for young families to connect. Many churches have thriving children’s programs on a Sunday morning that you can register your kids into. Churches love to serve the local community and welcome you and your children.
The Blue Mountains City Council have developed a comprehensive guide of community services to help you and your family to access services, enjoy your local community and find the support you may need during times of transition.
In this season of raising children, when our days are filled with equal measures of beauty and challenge, it is important that we acknowledge and validate our feelings, rather than dismiss them or judge ourselves. If you need extra support, visit your GP for a referral to talk to a mental health professional. Talking through problems and anxieties enables us to better care for ourselves and our family.
So, today, give yourself permission to take good care of yourself. Making your wellbeing a priority does not make you selfish nor should be laden with guilt. Putting a few simple strategies in place will enable us to be more present for our family and soak up mindfully these precious (and often very full-on!) days with our children.
If you have any further helpful ideas to improve the wellbeing of Mums please let us know in the comments below.