It’s taken me quite some time to realise the importance of self-care with two young children in tow. Like many other women with young children, I disappeared into Motherhood for quite some time, emerging only now and again for snippets of self-care - a walk here, a coffee date there, a dinner every so often. With one child it was easier not to notice I was neglecting something that had been second nature to me my entire life. However, with the arrival of Louie and more hands to look after than I had myself, it became evident I needed to invest more time, more frequently, in nurturing my own self-care. Now with Louie weaned and especially with the arrival of a new decade, I’m giving myself permission to enjoy doing more of the things I used to do all the time! This is much easier when you emerge from the early stages of caring for a toddler and baby. I recently had my second only trip away from both children overnight and it reminded me, that you can’t take care of others wholeheartedly unless you take care of yourself first. It’s important to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. That self-care is a priority for every single one of us. And, while you can run on empty and keep going for quite some time, it’s much more enjoyable if your cup is full!
As a mother, or someone with family or friends to care for, or someone with many balls to juggle on a daily basis, it is easy to feel guilty about taking time out just for you. But it’s so unbelievably important. It allows us the space and time to connect with ourselves and others, to enjoy different experiences, to learn and to grow. But ultimately self-care is about investing in your own health and happiness so that you can not only give entirely to yourself but also to those around you. It’s about finding things that restore you completely. They don’t have to be extravagant or expensive but things you enjoy doing and that make you feel good. And most importantly are things that you can do frequently! Frequently for me means normally around three times a week at the moment, which is enough for me to feel restored.
While I mention above that many of us can feel guilty for taking time out for ourselves, it is important for our future generations to see their role models investing in their own interests and health on a regular basis. It should be part of our longevity and a gift we should teach our young along with other lifelong values such as empathy, kindness and work ethic to name just a few. For me, like many others, the juggle of self-care is balanced between time with my family, caring for others and sorting things that need to be done in somewhat chaotically organised home!
If you need a little help to “fill your cup”, I’ve popped a few ideas below…
Go for a solo nature walk along a favourite bush track
Or pick up a friend and go for a walk together
Pack a picnic and your favourite book and spend some time reading at a local park or nearby beach
Make and take a thermos or pick up a coffee to watch the sunrise (Rarangi here in Marlborough is beautiful for this!)
Book a massage or nail treatment
Book a haircut! (If you’re anything like me you’ll need reminding to do this one!)
Take some time to enjoy your favourite movement, whether it be a gym class, walking, a yoga class, a swim or simply time to meditate and breath. This can be daily or of course a few times each week depending on what works for you.
Curl up on the couch with some homemade baking and read a book you’ve had sitting beside your bed for a long while
Visit somewhere you haven’t been for a while but that brings you immense joy. For me this is a few treasured places beside the ocean.
Nurture relationships by going out for lunch with friends or having a dinner date with your partner
Run a bath, light some delicious smelling candles and enjoy a long, warm soak
Put on some music, pour a glass of wine or kombucha and cook a favourite meal or one you’ve been wanting to make for ages with no time pressure (quite the revelation when you’ve been making dinner to be ready before 5.30pm for a few years!)
Plan a weekend away with friends to relax or to take part in an event such as a walk, run, half-marathon or fun-multi discipline event. This will provide a training goal to work towards also!
I'd love to hear from everyone as to how they are filling their cup and what their favourite restorative pastime is!