One of the things I wanted My Slow Motherhood to be, as both a blog and Instagram profile, was a space to share wellbeing tips.
Motherhood has taught me the importance of caring for my wellbeing. Partly motivated by the fact that as mothers, and as parents, we often put ourselves to the bottom of the pile which can leave us empty and exhausted. And also motivated by the fact that my first few months as a parent were filled with anxiety, doubt, more tears than I could have imagined and an overwhelming sense that I was not the mother I wanted to be and I wasn’t coping. I’ll share more of that story another time but it took me getting better to realise how bad my mental health had been in that time. It gave me a real heart to walk alongside others experiencing the same, to advocate for mums making time to care for their wellbeing and to share tips I have learned since I have worked in the wellbeing sector.
W E L L B E I N G
Wellbeing has become a bit of an all-encompassing word that people use to promote skincare or a night at the movies and, in the case of parenting, the things that should be normal parts of life like having a shower and eating some food.
If you asked me today what my definition of wellbeing is, I don’t think it would be perfectly formed but for me it’s more of holistic thing than a one-off spa treatment. It’s about taking care of all of you – mind, body, emotions and soul. Space to Breathe’s Wellbeing Triangle is often what I’d come back to.
So some of my wellbeing tips will be about helping you to learn and understand what it is that you need to be well. Some of them will be little reminders of how valuable you are and why you deserve to have time and space for you, your mind, your soul. And others will be super practical, actionable things you can do today to help in moments where you don’t feel like you’ve got anything to give.
P R A C T I C A L W E L L B E I N G
I’m starting there today because yesterday this was me. Mondays are my life admin day and it’s not something I take for granted. We’ve structured life in a way that means I can have a morning a week where I get some of the house jobs done, I can get through some washing and cleaning uninterrupted, I can batch cook some meals. Whatever fits under that banner, usually happens in those few hours I have on a Monday morning.
But yesterday E was ill. And just like that life admin Monday disappeared.
And I didn’t want to begrudge that. Part of the reason we have structured life how we have just now is because I want to be around for the kids. It means I pick up the sick days, the doctor’s trips, the impromptu early pick ups when the children are poorly and the school library trips. I chose that and I want to be there for those things.
But when I have a plan for my day, I still find it hard to make the shift. I still feel the frustration, the ‘today is my day, my headspace’. I find it hard to get the right balance.
I G E T T O
Which is why it couldn’t have more helpfully timed that sometime in the last couple of days the wonderful Anna Mathur [a mum and psychotherapist who shares the most helpful tips!] shared a video about ‘I get to…’.
I first learned about ‘I get to’ during the covid pandemic. I’d been to an online seminar by Action for Happiness where they had a conversation with positive psychologist Shawn Achor.
During the conversation he shared about how the practice of gratitude has a powerful impact on our happiness levels. In a tough, crazy year, he got us to take the opportunity to reframe our thoughts. Instead of holding out for Covid to end and thinking ‘Once Covid is over I’ll be happy because…’, he simply got us to think ‘Because of Covid I get to …’. It’s not something I would have ever thought to do but I was able to come up with a strong list of things I was thankful for because of covid. Things like doing a family walk every single day; laughing out loud during Jonny’s 30th Birthday Zoom Taskmaster, which never would have happened otherwise; learning so much more about God’s love for me because I had the time to dig deep into the Bible. These things don’t take away from how hard and awful a time it was for people, but it does help me to realise that, even in the darkest of times, there are things I can be grateful for.
Yesterday wasn’t an awful moment, it was just a shift in circumstance. But Anna Mathur’s post reminded me that instead of thinking about the things I wasn’t able to do, I could be thankful for what I was doing instead. And here’s my list from yesterday.
Because E wasn’t at school I got to …
- notice all the funny things that E says and laugh out loud with her
- enjoy one-to-one time with my girl which doesn’t happen often any more
- do life at a slower pace for the day
- play a new game with E and have my mind blown with how good she was at it
- help E create her Christmas card design which I would have struggled for time for otherwise
- be available for her because my work and life routine is flexible
- have the car to pick up S which meant we all had a long afternoon together playing and colouring
- practice slow motherhood and remember that this is what I have chosen to do just now
And I still didn’t nail the balance of doing some of the jobs vs spending time with E. I still find it hard and get it wrong. But in the midst of a change there was lots of joy to be found.
Next time your situation changes out of the blue, you find yourself in an ongoing hard situation or need a shift in your mindset, give ‘I get to …’ a go. It’s so simple yet so helpful. Sometimes you’ll have to keep doing it throughout your day as a reminder. Sometimes you’ll do it in a quiet moment at the end of the day and be reminded of what’s been good.
However, and whenever you choose to do it, I challenge you to give it a go and see what you can list!