True self-care is so much more than Netflix marathons and bubble baths.
As mothers, it's ingrained in our being to put others first, as soon as our children arrive. We want the best for our loved ones, which often means our needs come last to our kids, partners and even our pets.
There has been so much talk lately of self-care and the need for mothers to prioritise looking after themselves. Suggestions hover around mothers taking time out by relaxing in a hot bath or catching up on a favourite Netflix show. But are such pursuits enough? Is taking half an hour out of our busy weekly schedules really going to tick our self-care boxes? Short answer: no. Self-care goes way beyond bubble baths and screen time. Looking after oneself need not be reserved to alone time activities, either. There are many other, even more effective things mothers can to do to look after their physical and mental health:
As mothers, we have less time for ourselves than anyone else, which is why it is perfectly acceptable to say no without feeling guilty about it. This can be as simple as saying no to a night out with your friends because you're just too tired (besides, they'll understand), not volunteering for the kinder or school committee or only attending one social activity on the weekend instead of several.
There will always be another opportunity to help out at school, or catch up with friends, so don't push yourself if you can't fit it in. Don't commit to anything you don't want to because of pressure - saying no is one of the most important forms of self-care, especially if it means you have time to exercise or get an early night to catch up on sleep.
Switch off from social media
Have you ever heard of the phrase "don't compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else's highlight reel"? We see influencers, celebrities and even friends who show the best of their lives on social media, and hardly ever share their struggles.
This is no good at all for our self-esteem, and is why switching off from social media every once in a while to concentrate on our ourselves and our own family is actually a form of self-care.
Eat the right foods
Self-care for mums is often associated with eating, but not always with the right sort of foods. For example, some might say eating a box of your favourite chocolates after the kids have gone to bed is a form of self-care. Of course "everything in moderation" should be the mantra here, and the odd treat is perfectly fine, but it's important not to rely on comfort foods as a way of relaxation.
Buying or making nutritious healthy foods can often fall by the wayside but by eating well, you are practising self-care by nourishing your body. This need not be complicated, but if it means your grocery bill is a little higher because you buy some extra fruit or the more expensive type of yoghurt, you shouldn't feel bad about that.
Get a check up
It's a fine line between being busy and being burnt out, and many of the signs of mental health slipping, are physical symptoms that we mums ignore or downplay because we have too much to do to book an appointment for ourselves. It could be a simple visit to the GP for blood tests, a trip to the physio or a counselling session that could help to re-set your body and mind, so you shouldn't put it off.