As a parent are you in joy in yourself?!
Make time for self-care, for me-time, and you might find the rest of the family enjoys themselves more too.
Super-Tired Super Mums (and Dads)
There’s no denying that parenting is demanding and life can be tiring. Whole days can evaporate without a minute to draw breath or grab any ‘me time’.
Wild Daddy and I got together in our mid-30s and planned to have 3 children in 3 years…..WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!!!
I was so comprehensively poleaxed by the fatigue of motherhood that I couldn’t even consider trying for another baby until Caroline was about three. Massive parental sleep deprivation seems to be one of the pitfalls of modern society.
Parenting outdoor kids can be doubly exhausting. They might not sit in front of screens as much as other kids and what they do get up, they seem to create extra work; muddy, wet, sandy stuff, mountains of wellies, messy artwork, paint-stained carpets, mucky fingerprints, even snail trails in the bath.
More work for us super-frazzled wild parents!
This is a great mantra for parenting and life, especially for new Mums! Check out aircraft cabin decompression instructions: –
“Remember to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.”
In basic terms, you are no good to anyone if you pass out!
Apply this to family life and it simply means looking out for Number 1. Properly.
Ensure your own needs are met, with respect for your nearest and dearest and you’ll better meet the needs of your children.
I call it Oxygen Time and happily, lots of it involves time outside in the wild, even if that’s in your garden or a green space on a tea break at work.
Make Time for Oxygen
Oxygen is nature’s elixir of life – without it we die – so Oxygen Time serves as a great metaphor for the moments we allow ourselves to keep our bodies and minds active, healthy and alive.
Whether you can squeeze in a minute or a weekend, there are plenty of things to help you feel rejuvenated and invigorated.
Here are some ideas to help restore energy and balance in family life. You could reap huge rewards in your interactions with your children, and everyone else.
There are dozens of ways of taking care of ourselves as women, men, parents. Here are just a few of my favourites.
Walk – in fresh air; up and down the street, in a park or to school/work occasionally instead of driving. Gentle activity and exercise is good for the mind, body and soul. Just 5 minutes can make all the difference.
Smile – Charles Darwin first suggested links between smiling and happiness but don’t take his word for it, just do it
Breathe– don’t hunch, imagine raising your ribcage a tiny fraction and gently breathe, widening your ribs rather than lifting your shoulders to inhale. Find some happy air to breathe in
Move your body – stressed-out wild animals often shake, stamp or leap around to clear stress hormones after fight, flight or freeze reflexes. Do the same! Shake, jump, trampoline, run upstairs. Or put on a CD and dance wildly for 5 minutes, just get active
Gardening – this gets us into the fresh air, directly connecting us with nature and also gets good bacteria into our systems which is another reason that gardening is great for immunity. If you’re not green-fingered sit outside anywhere with your favourite cuppa
Look – find a view and soak it up. Staring into the distance relaxes the eyes, especially after close-up work. Try bird spotting or cloud gazing
Go barefoot – 5 minutes spent barefoot on grass helps relax and ground the body, connecting us with our natural rhythms. Try a barefoot walk at the beach.
Tea and a book – brew a herbal tea and read a chapter. Pukka are currently one of the few companies producing plastic-free teabags. Yes, plastic is everywhere; one of my pet hates. More on that here
Grown-up colouring – I re-discovered the relaxation of colouring when Caroline was old enough to start it and I have not been surprised since, at how quickly the market for grown-up colouring has expanded
Meditate – a calm mind = a happier outlook. A wise man once said “If you can’t make time to meditate for 5 minutes a day then meditate for 15 minutes.” Headspace is a great App or try CDs at home, set up or join a group
Yoga – many yoga poses are based on animals or grounded in nature
Write – journalling is a great way to relax. Choose a topic and write for 10 minutes without stopping, whatever comes into your head
Sleep – set an alarm, find somewhere quiet but don’t worry if you can’t nod off, just enjoy the solitude
Bathe – bring the ocean inside with a relaxing sea salt bath. I use Tidmans, Epsom or magnesium salts
Take a Shower – being a parent of the wild you’ll be outdoors lots and therefore showering lots too! Make this a mindful experience during even the briefest shower. Close your eyes and come up with a mantra e.g. ‘as I cleanse my body, so purify my mind and help me this day my……to find’ inserting whatever word comes to mind and letting it be your thought for the day. Mine is often ‘patience’!
Mindfulness – the link between all the above is mindfulness – taking a few moments to breathe, think about ourselves and make a brief, 5-minute change to our day.
So what’s stopping you? Close this blog right now, choose something from the list and take some Oxygen Time for YOU. Your family and children can only benefit.
Having personally struggled to claw back me-time without feeling guilty for ‘neglecting’ family life, I can honestly say wild (relaxed) Mums & Dads rock!
For more scientific research on why getting outdoors is good for both our mental health and our children’s development read 11 reasons to get into the wild now.