Self-care for busy mums: What happens if you ignore it (Part 1)

Self-care for busy mums_ Why you can_t afford to ignore it

Self-care has become a buzzword….we all know we should be practising it. But as busy mums, trying to juggle so many different roles, with an endless to-do list, self-care often gets pushed to the bottom of the list.

So why do mums ignore self-care?

Two of the reasons are:

1. Feeling guilty

Mums often feel that taking time out for themselves is somehow selfish and so good old ‘mum guilt’ sets in.

But why is this?

Perhaps it’s the cultural messages some women have grown up hearing – that they should put other’s needs before their own, and that a woman’s role is to nurture and care for her family.

Many of us may also have grown up watching our own mothers sacrifice their own needs for others: Self- care wasn’t even in their vocabulary.

And whilst things are changing, many mums still feel guilty, even if they are surrounded by supportive partners or family.

It’s almost as though you have to choose between caring for yourself or your child. So if you choose self-care, you end up feeling guilty, but if you neglect yourself, you end up feeling resentful.

So my question is why can’t we do both?

2. Not having enough time or money

The other things mums often say is that it’s expensive and that it’s not realistic to fit it in.

This is partly due to the misconception that self-care is about pampering, such as having a spa treatment, a manicure, or a weekend away. And whilst these are great if you can manage it, most of the time it’s just not possible.

It also becomes yet another thing you haven’t managed to achieve.

So it’s understandable why you would give up on the whole notion of self-care.

What happens if you ignore self-care?

 Neglecting your needs can affect different aspects of your life:

  • Impacts your physical and emotional wellbeing

Over time, neglecting to take care of yourself can lead to increased stress. This can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to issues such as colds, stomach ulcers, weight gain, and problems sleeping.

Your emotional energy may also be depleted, leaving you feeling unfulfilled, shouting more often and even feeling resentful towards your kids.

  • Impacts the whole family

Stress is contagious and can create tension and conflict in the home.

When you’re feeling drained, you’re going to be more reactive to situations at home. Conversely, if you are feeling rested and recharged, you are more likely to respond from a place of calm, which in turn makes your kids happier and more cooperative.

Untitled design-3

So if you take care of your own needs, you will actually be better equipped to manage those uncontrollable challenges that motherhood can bring.

  • Affects your experience of motherhood

It takes a lot of energy to be a mum and by neglecting your own well-being, it becomes an even bigger challenge. It can also mean that you do things half-heartedly which can affect your ability to enjoy motherhood.

You don’t get to turn back the clock. Before you know it, they are all grown up. So when you are in the midst of a long, tiring day, remind yourself that ‘the days are long but the years are short.’

  • Model unhealthy behaviour

 Your kids are watching you and learning from you. They will remember more of what you do than what you say. So your lack of self-care teaches your kids that it’s ok to neglect yourself.

Ignoring self-care is sending out a message that you don_t matter.

This applies especially to your daughters. As they see their mothers take care of their own needs and value themselves, they are more likely to respect their own self-worth.

  • Leads to burnout

 Putting yourself at the bottom of the list may work for a while, but in the long run, it can lead to feelings of utter exhaustion, illness and burnout.

Prolonged stress could lead to adopting unhealthy strategies to manage this stress, such as emotional eating, excessive drinking or overspending.

If you continually ignore self-care, just like a car with no fuel, you will eventually break down and then everything grinds to a halt.

png

Don’t wait until you’re depleted, before making yourself a priority.

 

In my next blog, we will look at ways of making time for self-care, without adding to your jam-packed to-do list…..

In the meantime, if you would like help in making self-care a greater priority in your life, you can contact me.

Next blog: Self-care for busy mums: How to find the time (part 2)

Do you compare and despair? The 5 A’s to help you stop

compare and despair-4

  • Do you feel deflated whilst scrolling through social media, and end up feeling rubbish for the rest of the day?
  • Do you feel resentful towards other people’s achievements?
  • Do you criticise others to make yourself look or feel better?

This is compare and despair.

It’s human nature to compare. We all do it. And as motherhood doesn’t come with a manual, it’s understandable that we look at other mums to see if we are doing ok. However, when it leads to continually feeling that you are not good enough, this can be damaging and destructive.

So how can you avoid playing the comparison game?

 Here are the 5 A’s:

1. Awareness- recognise that you compare and despair

When you do catch yourself making comparisons, admit it to yourself. Recognise the harsh, judgemental thoughts you have about yourself or others. But don’t beat yourself up about it; otherwise, you end up feeling bad about feeling bad! Instead be kind to yourself.

2. Acceptance acknowledge your desire to change

Recognise that by accepting how you feel means that you can at least begin to address it…Awareness is the first step to change and acceptance is the second.

3. Avoidance stay away from your triggers

Start to become aware of situations or certain people that cause you to compare and despair. Is it possible to avoid any of these triggers? For example, if social media is a culprit then limit your time on it. Or better still; use that time to make genuine emotional connections with others in the real world.

 4. Assumptions test what’s real

Whether it’s face to face or on social media, most of the time we only see what other people want us to see. Maybe you can recall a time when you were shocked to hear about friends, who appeared to ‘have it all’, announcing their divorce. Or when you hear about celebrities ending up in rehab.

Let’s also take a closer look at ourselves. Does your social media truly represent your life, or do you pick and choose the best bits?

How many selfies do you take before picking the most flattering one? How many times have you posted a smiling happy photo, which was completely opposite to how you were actually feeling at the time?

The truth is most people have no idea what is really going on in our lives and the hidden battles we may be facing. So why do we assume everyone’s life is better than ours? Is it possible they are doing the same?

What we end up doing is making assumptions about other people’s lives, based on a snapshot, and measuring ourselves against unrealistic standards. Is it any wonder then, that we feel like we can never match up?

5. Action- how you can compare without the despair

  •  Change your focus 

One way to accept unpleasant thoughts is through the practice of mindfulness. By pausing and focussing on your breathing, enables you to acknowledge your feelings and gently change your focus.

  •   Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t

No one knows your child like you do…you know what works and what doesn’t. So stop trying to keep up with what other mums are doing. Instead, take in the information, and then make choices that are right for you and your child.

  • Compare yourself to yourself rather than others

If you look hard enough, there will always be another mum out there who is more patient, has more material possessions, has a more attractive partner, has better-behaved children and so on. So if you continue to compare yourself to others, you will always come off worse.

So instead look back at all the things you have done for the very first time and everything you have achieved…from potty training to surviving your child’s first day at school. Not to mention what you do every day to keep your child safe and loved. Appreciate every little achievement.

  • Use comparisons as motivation to change

Comparisons don’t have to be all bad: you can use them to inspire you to make changes.

Perhaps you admire how calm another mum is with her child. Instead of feeling envious or resentful, ask yourself, what realistic changes you can make to control your anger. Or better still; ask the other mum how she manages it. She may see it as a compliment and be happy to share some tips.

The key here is to transform comparison into admiration and feel motivated to make changes, without putting yourself down in the process.

The 5 A's to help you stop compare and despair-4So don’t waste your time focussing on what everyone else is doing. Instead, use that energy and turn your focus inwards and nurture your own wellbeing.

I hope this blog has been useful. If you need any further support please don’t hesitate to contact me.