By Ruth, From Bright Mama: Self-Care Isn’t a Dirty Word
I went to an event recently centered all around self care and taking life (in particular parenthood) a bit slower. It was all the ideals that I aim for and wish I could achieve but 99% of the time feel like I fall completely short of.
Self care, for starters, often just feels like yet another thing to add to the never ending To Do list. But, not just another thing, a very selfish thing. Why when there’s so much else to be doing should I prioritise something for myself, an airy fairy bit of ‘me time’ when really I should be cracking on with raising two small humans.
Holly De Cruz (The Yes Mum) said a little nugget of wisdom that’s been playing on my mind since.
re name and re define self care as just space.
For me self care has always had to be something pretty indulgent and often costing money – a massage, a child free day of brunch and all other food related scenarios, a long bubble bath etc.
But space is simple, and therefore easier to attain. For me space is the absence of everything. All the stuff and business, to remove it for a moment and to allow space. To. Just. Breathe. Space mentally and physically. To remove yourself from a situation even if for literally a minute. To go and sit on your bed and to breath, to focus just on your breath and to give yourself a moment of nothingness.
I do think there’s different levels of self care though, I’m still going to try and fit in a manicure whenever I can because I just ruddy love them! But, over the last few weeks, this frame of mind has helped me move away from the mentality that you have to go, go, go until you’re running on completely empty and then to crash and burn in to some desperate self care. But to just be aware of your needs in small, manageable ways every day.
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like we live in a society competing to see who’s the most tired, the most worn down, who’s running on the least sleep. And that to say you took some time out for yourself is somehow a sign of weakness.
Spoiler: it isn’t weak and it isn’t selfish. It is absolutely, unavoidably essential. I’ve noticed my patience with the children be a whoooole lot better on the mornings when I drag myself out of bed early to get 15 minutes of Yoga in before they wake up. Or to close my eyes for a few minutes at lunch time, or even just to look around me and breath in the air when I take them to the park rather than marching on, head down.
Taking time for YOU is something that you do for THEM. I am a much better parent for it. I’m more present, I find myself savouring the moments with them after I’ve taken a minute/morning/day away. My patience is better and my perspective is realigned.
If I don’t take the time to look after myself I find myself resenting parenthood. I am obsessed with and adore my babies but I start resenting everything that they come with: the relentless, tiring, repetitive work of being a parent. But once I’ve taken a moment to breath/drink a hot cup of tea/listen to my favourite song/have a manicure/go for a 10 minute run/hide in the bathroom my mindset shifts back to them. All the good that comes from them. All the joy I find in raising them. And I somehow find the strength to attack the less fun side of wiping avocado off the wall.
Because really we are modelling life for our children. If I’m teaching them about looking after themselves but not doing the same for myself they’ll see that.
We also talked at this event about being present and what that means these days. How little stuff our children need and how much of us they want. There’s a quote I heard years ago that’s always stuck in mind.
If you want to make your children happy halve the amount of money you spend on them and double the amount of time you spend with them.
So true. So scarily true.
I feel so challenged about my lack of ability to be present. I am constantly multi tasking, looking at my phone, the clock, on to the next thing. I so want to simplify our days, to sit and play with Jet (even though his choice of activity at the moment is always play doh which stresses me out. The colour mixing. don’t get me started on play doh colour mixing) but I want to show him how important he is by just being. But to be properly there for him I know I need to take those moments for me too.
He doesn’t need big holidays, piles of toys, exciting days out. He just needs me. And I think along the way, I forgot that I am enough.