I recently had this article published in a local magazine, and so I thought I would also share here for you.
Sometimes as mums, we take so much on our own shoulders that we move from coping swimmingly one moment to being completely overwhelmed by life the next. Whether you’re already feeling stressed out, or want to avoid it in future, here are my top self-care tips for stressed out working mums.
1. Build your village
As the African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child”, yet with aging parents who work into later life, along with the trend of moving away for work, many new parents lack the traditional family support of the past. Making friends with local parents, finding and choosing childcare that fits with your schedule and a reliable babysitter can help fill this void.
Action 1: Who can you call on? What other help do you need?
2. Get your body moving
When we feel like we’re running around all day, the thought of donning spandex and getting to the gym can be a step too far, but exercise doesn’t have to be that formal. Instead, put on a “party song” and dance around your kitchen to ease the stress of the day and release those feel-good endorphins.
Action 2: What’s your favourite party song?
3. Say no
External and internal expectations about what we should or shouldn’t be doing as working mums push us to live up to impossible standards for ourselves, making us feel stressed, sick and not good enough. But we don’t have to go along with them, we can say no. Stay in your PJs if you work from home, order take-out on a Tuesday, don’t bath the kids every day - cut yourself a bit of slack.
Action 3: What are you saying “Yes” to, when you’d rather be saying “No”?
4. Talk it out with friends
Sometimes the best tonic talking. About how ridiculous everything is, how your kids are pains in the you-know-where, about the people in work with their snidey “part-timer” comments whilst they watch cat videos on Youtube. The bar scene from Bad Moms comes to mind. If sorting childcare to get to a bar is too much hard work, invite some friends over and talk it out over a glass of wine in the kitchen, whilst the kids fight about what movie to watch in the other room.
Action 4: Who can you invite over to get it all out?
5. Just do it
Sometimes we put things off until we feel like doing it and that can make us feel like we’re lazy or bad people. We might NOT feel better if we wait for another hour, and actually getting off our behinds and doing things now might kick ourselves into gear and give us what we really need.
Action 5: What have you been putting off? And, check out Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule on Youtube.
6. Have fun as a family
Feeling bad about missing out on our children’s milestones is a normal side effect of mum-guilt. I find planning weekend day trips or teaching your kids things you did as a child and making new memories together is a fab way to lessen this feeling, and deciding on your next adventure as soon as you’re back from the last helps you make it through the weeks or months in-between.
Action 6: Which memories from your childhood would you like to recreate with your children?
7. Rest when you need to
Make sure you also plan downtime for you and your kids. We often live our lives at 100 miles per hour constantly ticking off to-do lists, but we all need a bit of time to do nothing in particular. Along with resting you can keep your energy levels topped by getting enough sleep, eating your greens and getting out in nature.
Action 7: How could you schedule more rest into your week?
8. Set boundaries at work and stick to them
So many mums I’ve spoken to feel they bring too much “mum” to work and too much work to home to be fully successful in either place. If we want to change the way things are in the workplace, we need to be honest with our needs, and the fact we have children, so if you can’t make a meeting, be honest and find a time you can make.
Action 8: What are you putting up with at work, where do you need to stand up for yourself or your family?
9. Be honest about how you’re feeling
If you are feeling a bit off, there may be something hanging around in your brain that you haven’t quite processed, taking up headspace and energy. Whatever it is, get it out of your head and onto paper. As soon as you see it in black and white, you can start to process whether it’s worth worrying about and what you can do about it.
Action 9: How are you feeling today? Is there something in your head you need to work through? Get it out of your head and into your journal.
There are always going to be good days and bad days. That is life. On the good days, celebrate your win. On the bad days, don’t be hard on yourself and do what you can.
PS: Although this article talks about Mums, this could be exchanged for Dad or parent, but what I mean is the main carer, the one who takes the majority of the childcare tasks upon themselves and in my experience and that of the people I interviewed, it was the mum.