I can hear my child crying. My husband is babysitting so I could relax and spend a few minutes indulging my secret wishes and desires: shower on my own or lying on the floor looking at the ceiling. Bliss. Why instead of enjoying my free time I am listening intently and trying to decipher what is wrong and why she’s crying. Is she hungry? In pain? Wait a minute! I am off! I am officially off duty for another 5 minutes. Back to Zen.
It is easier said than done. As mums, our default setting is on our children’s needs. Especially when they seem in distress. Our brain is hardwired to hear them at night when our husbands are snoring louder than the kids are crying. We can tell when they are hungry or grumpy for no reason. Sometimes we anticipate their fall and jump out with our arm outstretched before they hit the ground. That’s what being a mum is all about - being there for your child, 24/7 or even more.
But not being able to switch off at all might have dire consequences for our mental health. According to this article on Motherly - a burn out amongst mothers is higher than amongst corporate office workers. That statement made me double my efforts to ensure I rest when I can.
Resting for mums is not a luxury - it’s a necessity. In order to help our family we need to help ourselves first. We need to ensure that there are a few minutes in a day where we are not mothers, wives, cleaners and cheerleaders but humans who need a bit of 'me time'. Even 5 minutes can make a difference. But we cannot spend those precious minutes scrolling our phone aimlessly getting even more fatigued. Because our gadgets can make us more tired, the researchers quoted in this article call it 'technoference' - technology interfering with our lives.
I’ve compiled a few daily routines and rituals. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just my take on ‘me time'. Feel free to drop me a line with your daily rituals.
Shut that door.
Sounds simple, right? But if we don’t - someone might barge in and our special ‘me time’ will quickly turn into a playdate in a different room. With scented candles and a glass of wine but a play date nevertheless.
Invest in noise cancelling headphones.
Consider putting earphones in if you stay in the same house as your family. This advise might sound over the top to some, but the walls in modern houses are very thin, so you will thank me afterwards. Noise cancelling head/earphones are amazing! They are as useful at home as they are on the tube or on the flight with a screaming child sitting next to you.
Turn the music on.
Whatever you feel is needed. I don’t believe there is such a thing as suitable music for relaxation. Different people relax listening to different genres. I, for instance, can only relax when upbeat music is playing - give me Abba or Lady Gaga anytime and I won’t be able to stay still. Calm music makes me edgy for some reason... You choose whatever works for you, it’s your time.
Master breathing exercise.
Simple deep breathing exercise can help us to relax. Relaxed body is less tense, so it lets go of stress a bit. Theresa Cheung in her book '21 rituals to change your life’ mentions that deep breathing can even make you happier. A quick rest from constant 'mum, mum!’ can calm you down. Imagine if you could also leave that room feeling happier! A bonus!
Do something that makes you happy. Even if it’s for 1 minute only. Be it a quick yoga pose, a cheeky cup of hot chocolate, read a poem out loud while doing a headstand, cat videos on youtube or daydreaming! Whatever it is, as long as you enjoy it - it count as self-care.
“The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.”―James Joyce, Dubliners
Doodling or colouring.
Try it. You don’t need more than a few minutes to doodle something down. Free doodle, don’t overthink. If you need ideas - Pinterest with have plenty. But you might want to save a few ideas on your phone prior to that not to waste any of your precious seconds on scrolling.
It does not matter what you do during your well deserved 'me time' - as long as you spend this time doing what you like and enjoy. The goal is to feel a little bit better afterwards. Happy Mum, Happy Baby, as Giovanna Fletcher would say.
Do you manage to have any time for yourself at all? What are your favourite ‘me time’ rituals?