It’s hard to comprehend how much of yourself is given up and consumed as a parent before you become one yourself.
Even then, I remember with my first baby not really understanding the importance of prioritising my own needs to be able to function properly as a mother. It’s only now, 7 years after having my first child, with 2 kids and having been a full-time stay at home mum and then starting my own business, that I have fully understood how you can run out of patience, run out of love, and run out of compassion when you haven’t looked after your own needs first.
When Mum is running on empty, everyone loses.
It’s so hard to find time for yourself, and to prioritise yourself when there are mouths to feed, train tracks to build, washing to fold, and a husband working full time. It’s also hard to know what you need when you’re running on empty. Is it going to the movies? Going for a massage/pedicure/facial? Going to the gym? Getting someone to help organise and sort out an area of your life that’s feeling out of control? All of a sudden, spending money on yourself can seem frivolous when you’re juggling the family income and expenses.
Before kids I could go shopping when I was feeling off centre, or eat comfort food, and then go to the gym when I was feeling better. After having kids, I no longer have either the luxury of time for those activities, or the luxury of being moody and depressive when I’m having a bad day. I find if I am moody or depressive then EVERYONE is moody and depressive and it quickly spirals out of control.
My kids feed off my energy and amplify it so the whole house resonates with my mood.
I have found that there are 3 simple things I need to do on most days (or at least several times a week) as a bare minimum to keep myself balanced:
1. Go for a walk outside
Ideally, I go for a walk first thing in the morning without the kids and focus on my surroundings, breathe deeply and just be by myself for half an hour. Normally at around 5:30 or 6am, the world is quiet and I can breathe.
This alone time is incredible for helping ease anxiety and stress, and creates a sense of calm that permeates through the rest of my day.
2. Hug someone you love
I always hug my husband, in the morning before he goes to work, and in the evening when he comes home. I always hug my kids, to greet them in the morning, and throughout the day to reconnect and pause regularly. Hugs have so many benefits!
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” – Virginia Satir
For some reason, stretching for just 10 minutes (or less) makes a HUGE difference, and it’s something you can easily do while your kids are around. You can even stretch while you’re playing trains on the floor!
As a mum, you’re often carrying your baby on one side which pulls your body out of alignment. Stretching your arms out and back, or twisting your torso are favourite stretches for me as they seem to help put everything back in line after carrying my baby around.
I also recommend seeing a physio if you’re feeling out of alignment so that you can get specific stretches to help you. Maintaining your health and body fitness is incredibly important to be able to keep up with your kids as they grow!
Of course, if you’re feeling down on most days, and these simple activities don’t help then please see your health professional and tell someone how you’re feeling. You can also call helplines like PANDA to chat about any anxiety or depressive thoughts or feelings you’re experiencing as a new mum or dad.
What do you do to help maintain your balance or to help you pull back up when you’re on a down spiral? Share with us below.