A gentle Summer Self-Care Check-In for Mums – follow along on this 5 day journey to help you feel better in yourself.
While tending to my own self care this past couple of weeks, talking with friends and my community on social media, I was reminded how it’s most definitely not just me who has been flagging.
I feel like our generation of Mothers will look back at our journey and this time will massively stand out. The extra time with our loves has been wonderful for many and it has also been tough. Homeschooling when we didn’t choose it as our path has asked us to dig deep. Losing our childcare and support structures has planted it all firmly on our shoulders. Goodness only knows how so many have also been working from home while juggling it all. And that’s before you factor in the intensity of the big feelings flying around your home on any given day.
My children are now 10 and 7 (blink of an eye, honestly) and I’ve felt at times like I went straight back to the days when they were toddler and pre-schooler in terms of how needed I’ve been. The needs are different and thankfully they throw themselves from heights much less than they used to but there have been many days where I could not finish a thought and have hidden in the loo just to have a breather.
I think for many of us the demands on our time and energy have been heightened significantly. And in direct correlation the ease at which we could access our usual or desired self-care practices has diminished.
Is it suprising then that so many Mums on their knees with exhaustion?
If you have school age children, holidays are now beginning. Hurray for slower days without home-learning perhaps but also hello expectation of curating a wonderful Summer when we already feel spent. If your children are littler, perhaps your childcare and support structures have returned in some form but it often feels like a drop in the ocean when you’ve been juggling and plate-spinning for such a long time. For some, nothing has changed at all yet.
I don’t have a magic wand. I wish I did. But with all this in mind and having been working on my own reset, I wanted to offer something that might help set some more Mums back on the path to nourishing self-care and feeling better in themselves.
So I’ve put together a Summer Self-Care Check-In which I’ll be posting on Instagram and on my facebook page next week. Starting on Monday it’ll be 5 days of prompts to help you begin to work out where you are, what you need and how you could move towards tending to your needs and feeling better in yourself. Plus there’ll be a wrap-up prompt on the Saturday.
It’s free and you can use it however you’d like to. There are no rules or expectations and you don’t need to sign up to take part. It’s just for you.
Here some ways you could use it:
Firstly, turn on post notifications for my account so you can be sure you’ll be shown each of the prompts.
Each day, read the prompt and if you’re able to take a quiet 5 minutes to sit with it. You could potentially read it in the morning and carry the prompt with you through the day – I do this sometimes – and see what it brings out.
You may want the simplicity of just mulling it over and doing nothing else – that is completely valid, particularly if you’re feeling time-poor.
You may want to find a trusted friend to do this with. Perhaps sharing which each other what the prompt brings up each day.
You may want to talk it over with another loved one who is good at listening without fixing.
You may find it helpful to journal your response to the prompts, either straight away or at the end of the day after you’ve carried it around with you. When I do this, I allow myself to free-write. Writing all that comes to mind without editing or filtering before it reaches the page.
You may like to join in on social media with an insta post each day or some of the days capturing your response to the prompt. If you do, please tag #selfcarecheckinformums so I can follow along and see how you’re doing.
It need not take a lot of time, but if it’s useful you can expand on it as much as you want.
At the end of the week my hope is that you feel more grounded in where you are, how you’re feeling, know more about the kind of shift you’re needing and how you could begin to move towards that.
A gentle Summer Self-Care Check-In for Mums – follow along on this 5 day journey to help you feel better in yourself.
Do share your experience with me if you’d like to by commenting or messaging; and please generously share with any Mum friends you feel might like to do it too. See you next week!
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It’s easy for our own needs to slip by the wayside as we navigate looking after our families needs – here’s one mother’s approach to rebalancing via a self-care reset.
As we slide towards the school holidays and I begin to feel the load lightening with homeschooling, I’m feeling a sense of emerging from something. In lots of way, the gradual reducing of lockdown restrictions hasn’t made much difference to us with the boys still at home and our day to day not really changing. So the end of term feels like the real shift and one we’re really welcoming.
I’ve been checking in with myself over the past few days, acknowledging the need for a bit of a reset on the self-care front.
After years of learning how to tend to my needs and make good choices that keep me well and in balance, I’m pretty good at knowing what I ought to be doing. I’ve learnt many times over to tend to my own needs before something starts screaming at me (hello lower back, we’re old friends at this hey). But there’s knowing and there’s doing and when we’re tired or the days feel overly dominated by other things, when I’m needed more than I’m not… it just feels really hard to get to it.
The thing that never fails to make me laugh at myself is that I know my own non-negotiables so well that I can somehow convince myself I’m doing them when I’m not? That might sound mad, but take drinking water as an example. I heard myself say the other day ‘I don’t know why I’m feeling like I’m dehydrated, I’m drinking loads of water’. My husband bravely asked ‘but are you actually?’. Hmm, maybe I wasn’t. I guess when some things are such habits you don’t always notice them slide.
Bedtime is another one of those things that easily slides for me. My own bedtime gets later in direct proportion to how busy and noisy our days are. I use the quiet of the evening to rebalance and stretch it out way past the hour that I’m happy with.
So since I’m working on a reset for myself this week I thought I’d shared some of the self care rituals and routines I’m returning to and some I’m leaning a bit further into with the curiosity of ‘what if… how would this feel if I did this?’.
I almost typed ‘the non-negotiables’ and then laughed and got back in my box. I negotiate them plenty, but I know they are the cornerstones of feeling good in myself and present in my days.
Drinking water – it’s such an obvious one, I know, but when I don’t (or when I rely more on herbal tea which ends up not being in the same quantity) I really notice the brainfog and tiredness creeping in. This week I’m back to the 8 glasses of water minimum a day.
Nutrition – I could write a book on this one but I’m not qualified to so I’ll just say this – after years of learning I know what good looks like for me. I never stray too far or I know about it, but the odd things do slip. This week it’s out with refined sugar (once again) and curbing the wheat intake, plus I’ll be making good use of the spinach spilling out of our veg patch with daily green smoothies again. If the idea doesn’t sound that appealing to you – trust me, my kids love them – I’ll share the recipe here in another post soon.
Sleep – there was a time when I had little control over this one since my littles were not great sleepers. Even so, I was often my own worst enemy, staying up late into the evening if I could swing it to bank something of ‘an evening’ and going to bed just when they were beginning to hit the restless part of the night. So so basic. Gone are the days when I thought I was achieving something in staying up late, riding the second wind and feeling like I was winning. I am never winning if I’m not getting a decent sleep. I never was. I was just running on adrenalin so didn’t notice how rubbish I felt. Or just really desperate for some alone time. Something that sticks in my mind from a book I read is that hours of sleep before midnight are worth double in terms of quality compared to hours after midnight. I don’t have a scientific source for that but it does seem to ring true for me. This week I’m clawing my bedtime back from midnight (yes, the need for quiet rebalancing time got really bad) to ten o’clock, or even half 9, with a book. Knowing it’ll do me so much good to get back there. If you’re at a stage with your children where you can make good sleep decisions for yourself, it’s really worth looking at them.
And the other important things
I’ve separated these two lists out to give myself a base line to begin with. I’m certain that having the basics above in place makes it a little bit easier to get nearer to what follows here, even when I’m feeling really time poor. When the basic stuff isn’t happening all that well I can’t really see the woods for the trees. But after those, comes this…
Time outside – between the boys, our dog and the garden / veg patch this one has been fairly constant but with the days freeing up in the holidays I’m holding out for a bit more. Long, whole days outside from morning until bedtime are balm for my soul. I might be more plant than human. Natural light and good air are the best medicine I can think of.
Moving my body – this is feeling like an area of growth for the Summer. I already walk a fair bit but I’m itching to move my body more and I’m open to what form that takes. Some experimenting maybe. The nearby mountains are calling especially. I loved the wild swimming we did recently – more of that please. Also, consistent yoga would be so good. I’ve tried for years to build in a daily short yoga practice and it feels amazing when I do but it’s just not happening right now. An intention for the holidays and perhaps daily is a high bar to reach for. I’d actually be really happy with 3-4 times a week so that’s where I’m beginning.
Finding headspace – two things that do this and I have such a lot to say about the effect they can have on wellbeing that I’ll write a fuller post just on them soon. I’ve started with eliminating noise and I’m finding that by dealing with some practical stuff I’ve been carrying around in my head for too long, it’s becoming quieter in there. Also has an impact on anxiety – I think they go hand in hand. With that happening, I had enough space in my mind to seek out even more space and so I’m a week into a Deepak Chopra 21 day guided meditation programme. I wish I could just sit and meditate silently but I seem to really need the hand holding of a good guide to fully drop in and I’m really wanting to stick to it and do the whole 21 days this time. Last time house guests arrived on day 19 and that was that, dammit.
Creating – Answering the call of inspiration is a form of self care for me and this is something I’m hoping to carve out more time for over the summer. I have things on the go that I dip into in short lulls and snatched moments but I’m longing for a good chunk of time to just make for the joy of making. The list is long and I’m going to have to narrow it down. Maybe the entirely indulgent few hours at a sewing machine making myself a dress from the pattern I’ve had for 6 months will win. It should win, yes?
Self care can sometimes be viewed as self indulgence. As if it’s a negative thing. What would be wrong with indulging ourselves anyway? When I look down this list I see most of it is about meeting our simple human needs to be in a good place – physically, mentally and emotionally. Just as we’d look to do for our children.
The thing is, for a family to be in a good place, every member of that family needs to be having their needs met. Too often that can play out as ‘everybody except mum’. Worse, side-stepping our own needs is often lauded as ‘being a good mum’ and I’m sorry but no. As the centre of our little people’s world we need to be thriving rather than just surviving. Firstly, it’s exactly because they need us so much that we need to take good care of ourselves. We are not infallible and neither should we be. And secondly, it’s because they are learning from us how to take care of all the parts of themselves. Just as we take time over showing them how to brush their teeth well, we can positively instil in them what it means to be a well-nourished, whole and thriving human.
Side- note: If you’re reading this and you’re sleep deprived or in a difficult place, I’d urge you to catch yourself before you take what I’ve just said and make your lack of self-care another thing to feel crappy about. It is so so hard sometimes to do all the things for all the people in your life and still take care of yourself. Above all else, hold yourself in kindness and acceptance. We are always doing the best that we can. And another true statement is that we often back ourselves into corners where because we’re so depleted we can’t do anything to feel better.
When that feels true for me, I pare it all down to this: what ONE thing could I do that would make a difference to how I feel today? What would help me breathe a little more easily and allow me to soften?
A nap. A walk in the fresh air. Ditching something I ‘should’ be doing to do something I know will fill me up a little bit. Calling in some help. Talking things out with a good listener. Drinking extra water. Pulling out my yoga mat / craft project / dancing music despite having no child free time because it’s good to show my littles what makes mummy feel good, calm down or light up. Or some other simple thing that would work for you.
Starting with one thing that feels possible one day can lead to one thing each day – like a gift to yourself – which in time can add up to taking a whole lot better care of ourselves. But today, if it helps, just focus on today.
I send out an occasional newsletters to my lovely subscribers list and they often seem to come out of me like a letter to a friend. I thought it’d be nice to share excerpts of these here sometimes. To get the full version at the time I send them, with info about retreats and offerings as well, you’re really welcome sign up via the home page.
I’m finding these days of lockdown / post-lockdown (I’m not entirely sure what this time even is) that how I answer this question depends on the very moment of the day I’m asked it. It changes moment to moment some days. Is it the same for you? If I’m out on a long walk in the sunshine with my boys or watching them play or invent things in the garden or the schoolwork went well it’s one answer. At other times it can be the complete opposite. Like you, I’m just having to roll with it day to day and moment to moment.
Yesterday I was thinking how the constants right now are that I’m tired, time-poor and I don’t get to finish many thoughts. This is motherhood in general, yes? But very much heightened right now. The other constant is that I’m incredibly grateful for our health, the time I’m getting with my loves and the opportunity to slow down and take stock. It’s ‘both’, ‘and’.
The swing between emotions seemingly at different ends of a scale – between frustration and joy, struggle and gratitude, overwhelm and happy moments – can itself be exhausting, giving us that dizzy-making rollercoaster feeling. For me, it presents as a brainfog that somedays I can’t shake. Do you ever have that?
What helps me is to ground myself and check in with my feelings; acknowledge what the heady mix is formed of and separate it all out to make better sense of it.
Some ways that I go about re-grounding are: literally going and standing on the grass in the garden with bare feet and taking a few slow, deep breaths; taking the dog for a walk on my own to just be with my tangle of thoughts; sitting mindfully for a few minutes and letting everything begin to settle – breathing, thoughts, emotions, energy.
My check-ins will sometimes be the unravelling of thoughts and feelings while taking that walk. An extra-long shower sometimes helps (not always possible when you have little ones at the door though, hey). Journalling – writing down how I’m feeling and what I need – has been really helpful recently.
The June date of the Mother Wild retreat has just gone by. The group that would’ve been in the woods together were, of course, all at home without the break they’d been anticipating and we were all sorely missing the magic of the woods and of that that time away. I made them a couple of virtual gifts to help support them to ground, nourish and connect with some elements of the retreat while still at home – one of which were some simple journaling sheets. If you’d find them a helpful way to check in with yourself, watch this space – I’m going to make them available as a free download soon.
These are stretching and confusing times and we’re all experiencing them in the unique way that our own situation presents to us. As Mothers we can have a tendency to expect ourselves to be ‘fine’ when it’s entirely normal in times of change or stress to be not fine. I think the key is to check in with your self (the self-inquiry of: how are am I really?), to allow whatever comes out to come out, to soften towards yourself and lean towards a few simple things that help you feel a little more grounded and able to breathe a little slower.
What are the simple things that don’t take up a huge amount of time, but help ground you and slow your breathing? Could you weave any of that into the next few days perhaps?
Sending solidarity hugs to you x
https://mothernurturemotherwild.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/MNMW-logo-2.png00mother_adminhttps://mothernurturemotherwild.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/MNMW-logo-2.pngmother_admin2020-06-28 15:26:212020-07-06 15:34:34Dear Mama - an excerpt from my June Newsletter