We’ve been on a couple of planes lately and I’m always struck when they remind passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before attending to their children. Jeez. How would that feel? My mind drifts to the chaos of that possible moment, the sizzling cortisol in the air, the lights tracking the way to the exit, the fumbling with the mouth piece. (Is it just me that does this?! This morbid run of the imagination?) And then I whizz off the stats in my brain, more likely to die by a falling ladder, household furniture, waaay more likely to die in the car. A bit of deep breathing… Aaaand we’re good again; oh look they’re showing Wonder Woman! I can’t wait for the meal! It will be so gross but I’m so excited about what it is!
There’s not really a better picture of parental self-care than there is the oxygen mask. Self-care is the life-giving magic in the family home. It is the thing we need to dedicate ourselves to if we want our relationships to be joyous and sustainable. And, just like putting the mask on our own face first, we must meet our own needs in order to meet our children’s needs.
The wonderful Racheous just wrote a post about overcoming barriers to self-care and she made a perfect point. “Imagine your child or friend telling you how they feel guilty about self care or don’t have time. What would you ask them? What would you tell them? What would you want them to know?
Be your own friend. Listen.”
I’ve just had a self-care day, so I’m feeling full up, waiting for Nana and Grandad to bring Ramona and Juno and all the cuzzies home from the zoo. I try and get a self-care day once a month, I spend it solo and I nearly always spend it at a library somewhere with absolutely no agenda but to wander around and read any book that I’m drawn to. I’ve found my very best reads this way, it always feels kinda spooky.
Today I read the whole of Martha Beck’s Finding Your Way. I’d never heard of her before, but I slid it from the shelf and spent the next two hours in this beautiful vortex of flow. (By “beautiful vortex of flow” I mean “sitting on a hard chair at a desk snotty crying in public”) I kind of don’t even want to recommend it as I sort of feel like she only wrote it for me? Haaahaha. Like, you might read it and be all whathehell? I’ve put an affiliate link there *just* in case you are game. Ha.
But one of the things she suggests doing, that I’m going to do, is checking in with your energy levels throughout the day and then doing something according to that energy. That’s the way to find a restfulness in your busy day. So if your energy is fun, share a funny story with someone, or if your energy is low, have a sit. Woah, as I’m typing this out it feels *quite* obvious that we should do this. But I actually don’t do it as much as I’d like! Do you? I just kinda go through the day, doing a bit of good breathing every now and then, but more or less responding to all the things outside of me, rather than that inside me. I don’t want to overthink this too much – surely if we are feeling crazy, we let that crazy out by pulling funny faces at our kids or whatever… but I’m just not sure we do the checking in as often as we should…. and that leads to frustration and impatience and the buzzing feeling of unfulfilment and dissatisfaction.
So, I’ve written a list. It is a mundane sort of list. Because this isn’t juicy secret sauce. It’s just everyday things we can do to breath oxygen into our lives and our relationships. It’s everyday self care. And I suggest you read the list and then do the Martha Beck thing. Feel into your energy and provide self care for where you are right then and there. Some days your self-care might be reading a bit of your novel. Other days it might be having a dance or watching some Youtube.
A note about social media
Everyday Self-care *doesn’t* include scrolling on your smartphone. it might include your smartphone, for sure, for an activity you have selected as being self-care. IE – participating in a group, having a chat with someone, catching up with an old friend’s photo album. All of that *can* be self care but the difference is you are intentionally choosing it, you recognise the way it lifts your spirits in a way that the common, mindless browsing more often than not depress your spirits. Imo. (Would love to hear your thoughts on that possibly controversial note!)
And here we go….
1 minute self-care
1 – A sit down with a cup of tea
2 – A whole body breath (imagine filling your belly, upper chest and your shoulders with air) – this releases pressure on your adrenal glands, it is a preventative stress management technique!
3 – Stare at your beautiful thing (this might be a print of a painting you’ve hung, a collection of photos, a vase of flowers)
4 – Make a green smoothie
5 – Watch a Ted Talk
6 – Listen to a podcast (I love these by Liz Gilbert)
7 – Listen to your self-care playlist (I’m listening to Heavy by Birdtalkers everyday at the moment. So lush)
8 – Read some of your novel
9 – Flick through an inspirational non-fiction
10 – Light a beautiful candle and have a minute’s worth of stillness
11 – Burn your calming essential oils
12 – Waft some sage around
13 – Sort a messy surface out (don’t do this is you feel like all you ever do is tidy! Do it if you want to sort a tiny corner of chaos)
14 – A 15 minute yoga sesh (Yoga Studio is a great app for this)
I felt guilty for two years because I coudn’t do a whole yoga sesh. The stars never aligned. Then I released that. Said F*&k It and now I don’t do any yoga and I feel so free! One day I might but in the meantime I journal as my spiritual practice and I love it.
15 – A short meditation
16 – Creating and repeating your own mantra
17 – A prayer of thanks
18 – A journal entry
19 – Call a friend
20 – Interact with your bezzies snapchat group
21 – Set up a Zoom call playdate with friends that work for you and your child
Like the tidying one, food doesn’t work as selfcare if you feel like you are always cooking. But sometimes making a badass nourishing soup is JUST the ticket.
22- Make some raw chocolate shizzle and keep it in the freezer for treats (I use a simplified version of this)
23- Sit down and eat something and enjoy each mouthful
24 – Eat some almonds and love all that brain nourishing, calming serotonin
25 – Put your favourite singalong playlist on and sing your heart out
26 – Play your favourite song on the ukulele
27 – Get out some watercolours and do a quick splash of colour
28 – Write a haiku
29 – Knitting
30 – Crocheting
31 – Papercuts
32 – Colouring
33 – Dance to your favourite dance tracks
34 – Have a bath
35 – Have a foot spa
36 – Do some power poses
37 – Do one or two of your favourite yoga stretches (mine are cat and python… they might not be the right names… I feel like I just made them up)
38 – Go for a walk (I think this kept me well when I was a new mum – just going for huge long walks.)
39 – Teach your children how to give you a hand massage
Sites of Mutual Fulfilment
This is the ULTIMATE self-care for parents. It is the Holy Grail of parenting! Finding places that are mutually fulfilling for both you and your child. I list some of our in this piece on Sites of Mutual Fulfilment but here are some too:
40 – The library where you can both read/ play/ watch
41 – A gated park where you can read and they can play
42 – A cafe with a play area so you can drink coffee and they can play
43 – Watching funny videos on Youtube (most underrated self-care practice EVER)
44 – A friend’s home where you can chat long and deep with the parent and child can play contentedly with the other child (these are trickier to find than you think, so if you have one NEVER LET IT GO!)
And then, if you can swing it, give yourself a self care date once a month/ once a quarter, whenever you can. Try and get them in the diary so you can get partners/ grandparents/ friends to look after your kinder:
45 – Go to a gig
46 – Go dancing
47 – Go to a craft workshop
48 – Art galleries
49 – Go to a coffee shop and read magazines on your favourite topic
50 – Go to the library and read all the books
51 – Go for a hike
52 – Go for a swim
53 – Have a huuuuge nap
54- Buy some flower and plant them in boxes so you can see them everyday!
55 – Climb a tree
56 – Walk around on grass/ beach/ forest barefoot
57 – Sit under a tree with your back leaning on the trunk and breath it in
58 – Watch the clouds
59 – Swing on a rope swing
60 – Play hide and seek with your children/ friends (we forget to play as adults and it is so important) (you can also play hide and seek with strangers, without them even knowing and that’s quite fun haaaahahaha *laughter that says “that might sound weird but I’m not really honest I’ve only done it once it’s not a regular thing*)
My friend, you are worth this. You are SO GOOD inside. And you are SUCH A LOVING PARENT. You love so hard and give so much and it’s time for you to replenish yourself. To remember what you love to do. In these small minutes each day and in your self-care dates, you will find yourself, and nurture yourself and learn to love yourself.
And you show your children how to love themselves.
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PPS – New video all about homeschooling, quarantine and self care in case you missed it xxx