From the moment we wake up, we jump straight into starting the day full speed ahead-working, child-caring, housework, driving our kids around, helping out with homework, putting the kids to bed, then we spread ourselves out on the sofa, watch Netflix and sometimes binge on snacks. The next day, we get up and do it all over again. A common thing that I hear from mothers is that they don't have time for themselves. Does this sound familiar to you?
"I don't have time to work out."
"I don't have time to read a book."
"I don't have time to listen to music."
"I don't have time to take a long bath."
"I don't have time to get a massage."
As mothers, we are continually taking care of our family needs first and leave very little room for ourselves. This kind of neglect can manifest in many different ways. We get overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, easily irritated, and such emotions can cause us to have sleeping difficulties, emotionally eat, feel less motivated, less patient to deal with things that don't go our way. Sometimes in worst cases, it can lead to burnout.
It took me a while to carve out time for myself, between looking after my family, housework and working on my coaching practice, time is minimal. Before when I only had my son, I used to go to a yoga studio twice a week while he was in daycare. I always left the yoga studio in a good mood, and I was much calmer dealing with my son.
Now with two kids, it was also not easy to do something for me in the beginning. Every time I started doing yoga, my daughter would climb on me and ask for boob, so I had to stop and breastfeed her. Or sometimes my son would say he wants to do "his" yoga videos first, but then I will reason with him and ask him, "Do you want me to be a peaceful mommy or an angry mommy?" And he would reply, "A peaceful mommy". It works almost every time! Now, whenever I turn on my yoga videos, my kids would watch me do yoga, and sometimes they even join me.
When the lockdown happened, pandemic panic mood swept in. I was worrying a lot about the future of my family and the safety of my parents in Singapore. I found it hard to focus and get anything done for myself. But after the first month of coping with the new normal, I realised that there was nothing much I could do about the pandemic other than carrying on with life. That's when I planned a schedule for my family, and I decided to set some time to move. Since then, I managed to do 10 mins of yoga in the morning three times a week and 15 mins of HIIT workout twice a week. I also started taking naps in the afternoon with my daughter to rest when I needed it.
I learned that when I take the time to fulfil my needs, I can show up and be a better mother and wife! I noticed that I am more patient to deal with my kids, I don't lash out when they mess up something, and I'm much calmer when they have a tantrum. I'm also less resentful and critical of my husband when he does things differently from me, like the way he cleans up.
I believe it's possible to implement some self-care routine for yourself, here are 5 simple tips:
1) IDENTIFY WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY- Is it nature walks or running? Long baths with candles or reading a book? A nice massage, facial or pedicure?
2) ASK FOR HELP- Ask your partner, family members, older kids, or helper to look after your kids, consider placing your kids in daycare while you take this time for yourself.
3) BE SPECIFIC & START SLOW- When do you want to take the time? State your days and times. Start with one day of the week and slowly work your way up.
4) SCHEDULE IT DOWN- Set a calendar reminder every week and share it with your family. I have a notification to meditate every day at 9 pm. Even if I don't manage to do it every day, I still do it five days out of seven.
5) GET SUPPORT - Join Facebook groups to motivate you, rope in a friend to join you on your activities or work with a coach
A great way to think about self-care is when there is an emergency on a flight; they always recommend that you put the gas mask on yourself before you help the person next to you. So the next time you think you are selfish to want some time to recharge, think again.
Your needs matter too, Mama.
Questions? Let me know in the comment section below.
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