Caring for your kids can be enormously rewarding, but it can also be utterly exhausting. It’s easy to fall into the trap of concentrating all your attention on your little ones and neglecting your own mental, physical, and emotional health.
It’s fantastic to be a committed and caring mom, but it’s also important to look after yourself. Think of it as a bit like putting on your own oxygen mask first in an airplane, before attending to others. By paying attention to your own health and wellbeing, you will be able to stay fresh, fit and ready to enjoy life to the fullest.
A Healthy Body and Mind
Exercise is a super stress-buster. Whether it’s tai chi, tennis or trampolining that floats your boat, try and make time to stay active.
Exercise offers a time of release from the tensions of the day, as well as a welcome distraction and a time to heal. It also burns off the biochemical and physical changes caused by the release of stress hormones into the body. Your blood pressure can drop, and you should feel a whole lot better. Activity also stimulates your body to release lots of feel-good hormones, endorphins, which decrease pain, give a sense of wellbeing and help you get the sleep you need.
The problem is after a busy day with the kids, you probably feel like curling up in a ball with a glass of wine, not going for a run. But exercise doesn’t always have to be about going for the burn. Sometimes you can take it gently; a walk or swim with the family or some yoga can all help you stay fit and fight stress.
When we’re stressed or struggling, it’s easy to grab the food we crave, instead of the nutrition our bodies need. Sugar, caffeine, and fast-food highs disappear quickly, leaving our mood and our resilience as low as our blood sugars. That doesn’t mean that these foods are banned, we all enjoy the odd bar of chocolate, glass of wine or pizza. But if you can, try to choose complex, slow release carbs, lean meat and plenty of fruit and leafy green vegetables and healthy fats from fish, avocado, and nuts to nourish your body. The bonus is, if you eat well with your kids, they’ll also pick up great habits for life.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
No one is perfect. If you’ve been grumpy, disorganized or forgetful, then understand that you’re only human. It helps to accept that everything doesn’t have to be practically perfect in every way. Research has shown that perfectionist moms are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, so be kind to yourself. And, while we’re on that subject…
Take social media with a grain of salt
Comparison really can be the thief of happiness. Give yourself a break, remember that the Mommy Bloggers and Instagram moms with crafts, cashmere and cupcakes are just reflecting a moment in time. Often it’s a bit of a façcade, no one really knows what exists behind the beautiful images. What you see on social media can be a long way from the whole truth.
Let go of guilt
It’s sad but true that many moms suffer guilt and stress because they are working and away from the children because they are not working and money is tight or because they’re not juggling the demands of home and work well. Because, because, because.
Try to accept that you have made the best choice in the circumstances. Scientific studies suggest that mindfulness meditation may ease psychological stress. It is a simple form of meditation in which you focus your full attention on your breathing following the air in and out, this allows you to dispassionately observe any negative thoughts and eventually let them go.
Sometimes being a mom at home can be isolating. Or if you’re working full time, you may miss the input of others who are going through the same things. Try and make time to socialize with friends, family and work mates, a chat and a giggle can soothe stresses and help you view problems from another perspective.
We know that people with a close social network get emotional support that helps to protect them during difficult times. If you’re finding it difficult to get
out, then set a time to face-time a loved one, or try a parenting forum like Mumsnet, for a virtual get-together and a hand-hold twenty-four hours a day.
Time for rest
Remember we all need time to relax and recharge the batteries. See if you can get a little time away, to exercise, see friends or just sit quietly with a coffee and a good book. Is there a family member, a crèche or a nursery that could help out?
It’s not selfish, it’s sensible. After a break, you will return to your kids, with increased patience, tolerance and energy to face all the challenges as well as all the fun of family life.
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