If you follow me on social media at all you may have noticed that I've taken on a 42 day self care challenge (thanks to Rebecca Home - Postnatal Doula), 42 days being the number of days often talked about in terms of the most crucial period in postpartum care. Obviously I’m a little beyond 42 days postpartum (roughly 1260 days beyond if we are counting) BUT self care shouldn’t be something we only focus on at specific times of our lives. Sure, there will be points in our lives that self care is going to be especially important, pre-conception, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause to name just a few) but for us to thrive as individuals, families and communities we need to move our care further to the forefront of our lives.
So yes, self care shouldn’t just be for a 42 day challenge (or just for 42 days postpartum) but given so few of us are practiced in hearing our own needs and then ensuring they are met, it’s a great opportunity to start to practice daily self care and work on creating some healthy habits for our own wellbeing. To be honest, it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. With my youngest just becoming a little more independent, or at least accepting that his dependance can be on others as well as mummy, I’ve excitedly dived in to teaching yoga more again, creating Blissful Mothers (which had been in my head for almost 5 years), but in that excitement I kind of forgot that I also needed to leave space for self care. So here I am, accepting the 42 days of self care challenge, and sharing both what my self care looks like over the 42 days AND my discoveries with you as I go. I’m only 1 week in but I tell you, I’m excited about what further discoveries may be made.
As a side note, but an important one… during the postpartum period, to be honest, I'd love us to talk more about community care for new mothers rather than new mothers having to worry about caring for themselves, but part of self care is asking for help so it comes a full circle. If we work on our self care then in turn we become stronger at asking for the help we need as we prepare for postpartum.
So week 1 of the self care challenge in summary looked pretty much like this:
Day 1 - I made space for relaxation and fresh air by walking the school pick up rather than using the car and then left for my yoga class early so I had around 30 mins of time for me before teaching. I spent a little of it reading a new book I’m super excited about then spent 10 mins in a couple of my favourite restorative yoga poses. Classic self care - tick! It felt good to be consciously making these choices to support my wellbeing rather than allowing the flow of my day to be dictated by habit.
Day 2 - This may not seem like obvious self care and I’m grateful to @kimmorrison28 for the inspiration. Clutter has been a frustration for me for some time and little by little I’ve been reducing the clutter, paring things down, getting rid of the unnecessary. There’s still work to do but I feel like I’m well in to the journey. That is, until I look at my Inbox!!!! OMG. E-mail management has never been my strong suit and in my pre-kids days I was organised enough for it not to matter. My inbox has not escaped the impact of my hoarding tendencies, and my frequent (enough) international moves requiring visa applications requiring ridiculous detail like what I had for breakfast 10 years ago (not really but you get the gist) haven’t helped my willingness to delete and be gone. Like many I have, over the early motherhood years especially, signed up to newsletters for parenting approaches that resonated with me, or healthy living, eating, moving type topics. They come gushing in daily and I resolve to read them ‘later’ and of course rarely (honestly almost never) do. So on day 2 of the challenge I unsubscribed to a heap of them AND deleted the many, many thousands of e-mails sitting in my inbox from those lists. Let’s face it, if I want to read something in the future, I can just search for their website….and in the meantime, I can benefit from a clearer inbox and focus on the e-mail communications that matter.
Day 3 - On day 3 I slowed down enough to sit down and read an ACTUAL paper book. As a parent it’s easy for multi-tasking to become pretty constant and for ‘me’ time to radically reduce. Cue the introduction of audio books in to my life, to address the issue of the growing pile of unread books sitting on my shelves. Audio books are the perfect accompaniment to washing the dishes or hanging out the laundry. As time has gone on I have even been known to ‘audio book’ with my headphones on whilst the boys take their own sweet time to fall asleep, whilst still requiring the company of ‘Mummy’. As great as audio books are for ‘maximising your time’, which has it’s place in self care (in my opinion), it is not the same type of self care as sitting down on your comfy chair, with a cuppa, reading a book with real pages, in relative peace and quiet. So that’s what I did, for the first time in ages. I sat and read a non work related book and absorbed each word. Taking my time, not rushing, not doing anything else (aside from taking an occasional sip of tea) and it was B L I S S.
Day 4 - I spent time doing something I L O V E ! On this day it also happened to be work but thats pretty great right?!? I love yoga and I love sharing it with others so I teach. My teaching has been a really important part of my self care through early motherhood. When we become a mother we go through significant changes both in terms of our day to day routines, shifts in hormones, physical and emotional changes. It’s easy to lose our sense of self. Having something that we love (aside from our children) can be a really important part of self care. It’s so easy to become so absorbed in everything baby, then toddler and so on, and forget what makes us happy, what fulfils us. That’s not to say that you can’t feel fulfilled by mothering, at the same time, it doesn’t have to be our EVERYTHING. For me, yoga has been a continuing passion. Sure my practice (and my teaching) has ebbed and flowed as my family has grown, but it’s helped anchor me. Today was a busy day at home, getting ready for the week a head. The weekly trip to the local Farmers Market in the morning then preparing food for the various specific diets gracing our house at the moment all afternoon, but my time teaching is time where I get to give in a way that’s very different to my role as a mother.
Day 5 - My moments of self care included buying some $10 book ends so that my little library is more ordered and easier to access (even Hubby said the small change brought him joy!!), chopping some veggies ready for tomorrow so I don’t have to rush in the morning (future Anne will thank me for that) and whilst I was at it, I chopped a batch of mango and banana and set them to ferment overnight so that I could make a sunshine smoothie bowl later in the week. They may not seem too much like the self care we hear about but they are small steps I take to ensure my needs are better met than I’ve previously allowed for. To round off for the day, once the kids were in bed, I took time to brew a beautiful pot of @littlewildingco dirty dandy chai (I usually just make a cup) and sat down to enjoy it in peace and quiet.
Day 6 - Having dropped my phone on the floor a few times the previous day (and in fact this continued for a few days ) I took it as a sign so , listening to the universe, my focus was to minimise social media for the day. I wont pretend I didn’t struggle, at the same time, nor did I miss anything by not having my phone near me. What I did gain however is being more present and creating more meaningful connections with my family. Not ground breaking discoveries by any means, but practicing what I would no doubt preach to other women through my work = Necessary.
Day 7 - This was the launch of the Sunshine Coast Baby Magazine 2019. I rarely go out in the evenings, though as my kids get older it now feels more possible and enjoyable, so this was a real treat. The most important self care element for me was that, despite it being an early evening event, I set no expectation of me rushing back to be home for the boys bedtimes (something that previously I would have felt I ‘had’ to do. I said goodnight to them before I left and said I would see them in the morning (in reality whatever time in the middle of the night they decided they needed cuddles). It was so lovely to be going somewhere without a pull to home being there for the entire time. I organised a car share so got to catch up with a fabulous friend on the way too which extended the fun!
So that was week one. Another five to go! I’m not sure what’s to come. I imagine some ups and downs in the world of self care knowing my usual modus operandi, BUT the most significant observation during the week was that as I started taking these small steps to self care, I found myself starting to make better decisions about how I committed my time. I started holding boundaries around other things in my day. I found I had a greater ability to interact with my children in a way that ensured their needs were met WITHOUT my needs being forgotten. BOOM!
I’m committed to sharing my 42 days with you warts and all, in week sized chunks. It’s taken me a while to get week one posted so week 2 may appear before a week in your time elapses but I’m recording things as I go and I’ll be as consistent as I can without impacting on my self care of course!.
How's your self care? What are your passions? Do you know what fills your cup? What makes you happy? Do you make time for it? If not, maybe this is the week to start, one small step at a time.
Until next time…