As busy mums it's all too easy to forget about looking after yourself. There are so many demands on your time, and they really are demands - from the newborn/baby/toddler who wails every time you put them down or leave the room, to the pre-schooler who requires your attention to watch them dance, listen to them sing and come and colour with them. In addition, you have cleaning, laundry, nappies, bedding, cooking, feeding and more, more, more. Just when are you supposed to fit looking after yourself in?
Here's the deal. YOU HAVE TO.
It's so easy to forget to do simple things for yourself, especially if you're home with the kids all day... even showering, brushing your hair and getting dressed can slip down the priority list.
But here's the thing. If you do that then you start to feel as though you're not important. By not prioritising YOU, you are suggesting that you don't matter.
And you do.
Your children/partner/husband need you, but they need you to be true to yourself first. You have to make time to see to your own needs.
Let's face it, your baby might cry for a few minutes, but their world is not going to collapse if you go and spend ten minutes in the shower - if you need to, then put baby in the bouncy chair in the bathroom where they can see you. Ask people for help if you need some time to yourself.
Here are Mel's self-care rules:
- get enough sleep - if your newborn is keeping you up all night, then make sure you get a nap during the day. Older babies and children need to learn to sleep through the night too so that they and you get enough sleep.
- wash, dress, hair and make-up - the make-up is optional, but if putting on a bit of blush, a bit of lippy and some mascara makes you feel more human, then do it. At the very least, take the time to shower, brush your hair and get dressed in a way that makes you feel comfortable and happy with yourself.
- eat healthily and drink plenty of water - when you're sitting on the sofa with a baby attached, and particularly if you've not had enough sleep, it's very easy to fall into the trap of endless cups of tea and choccy biscuits, as well as convenience food in the evening. When your children are older you may choose to cook only what they eat rather than face a battle to get them to eat their veggies. Eating healthily keeps you in tip-top form, improves your energy levels, and helps show them a good role-model to follow too.
- Exercise - Pop baby in the sling or buggy and go for a good brisk walk daily. Once you've got toddlers you'll struggle with a brisk pace, but a walk is still important. Play football or tag in the park with older children. Better still, get out a couple of evenings a week for a swim, run or exercise class that's just for you - no children attached. When the weather's horrible, put on an exercise DVD and get fit at home. Babies love to watch mummy jig about, and toddlers and pre-schoolers will try to join in. Sit-ups are much more challenging with a toddler climbing all over you, but they are fun, and at least you're getting some exercise.