Mum of two, FIONA S GILES, believes self-care is essential for any parent.
I hurt today. In a good way, I promise. You see, it’s Tuesday, and I take a ballet class every Monday night. I have danced since I was five. It is the one constant love in my life that is truly good for me (as opposed to, say, chocolate or musicians). So, on Monday nights I work hard, and on Tuesday I hurt. I also feel energised, positive, and strong – a feeling that lasts several days. I’m less snappy at my children and more playful with them.
In the relentless hustle and bustle of caring for my two children (aged one and four), as well as the cleaning, tidying, laundry, and cooking (of which I do the lion’s share), playcentre committee responsibilities, the life admin of dentists, playdates, birthdays and so on, plus eking out time to write for a living, this one-and-a-half hour class a week is my sole selfish me time.
It’s my time to be with other adults, without children, and focus on my own needs and abilities. Even on days the baby had me awake all night and I can barely summon the energy to tie my hair up, I come back from class buzzing.
Studies reveal I am not alone in my opinion. A recent study showed that mothers with less time for self-care are more stressed. We all benefit from time alone. It helps us unwind, it aids in problem-solving, it increases productivity, and improves our relationships with others.
Despite this, there is a cultural stigma that mums should want to spend all their time with their children. Dads don’t get the same flack for their weekends away, basketball league, or game nights that mums get for wanting just a minute in the day to pee alone. I don’t know why in the 21st-century it is still news that mums need a break sometimes.
Take your 10 minutes a day, or two hours a week (or both if you can swing it) and make that time all about looking after you. Yoga in the morning, a face mask before bed, a child-free trip to the coffee shop. It doesn’t have to cost much. Can your partner, friend or relative watch the kids while you head out? Can you trade babysitting time with another parent? Can you book half the day off work to pamper yourself or see a movie or sit at the beach and eat chips? Whatever you do, put it in the calendar. Once it is written down it is harder to talk yourself out of.
So have a think. What boosts you up? What is going to help you feel recharged and ready to take on life again? You could take 10 minutes to paint your nails, 40 minutes to go for a walk, three hours to have dinner with a friend, a whole evening to binge on Netflix, or book an all-day pampering package at a spa.
Whatever you do, you deserve to take time for yourself to reflect on the awesome mother that you are and return to your family happier, calmer, and even more awesome.
Fiona S Giles is a writer based in rural Canterbury. She lives with her husband and two children on an 11 metre house-bus. She is a playcentre mum, a book hoarder, and a Pinterest fiend. When she should be writing you will find Fiona either cleaning, baking or watching Netflix. But never running.
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