Guest post by: Lavinia Brown aka BoboMama
Cambridge is a wonderfully small place. I am delighted to host a post specially written for you by Lavina Brown, a local Life Coach. Lavinia came to my antenatal pilates class a few years ago. Now, like many women, she has returned to her work with a change of focus – drawn to helping other mothers be their best selves:
As a life coach for mums who want the most from life – to be the best mama they can be AND to find fulfilment and happiness in the workplace – self-care is one of the most important items in my coaching tool kit.
Why? Because we can’t have it all and do it all, all at the same time, without it.
Ambition is a great thing – especially when, on the whole, we women tend to seriously undersell ourselves – but it needs to be tempered with a reality check:
First, that women are naturally empathetic and often also highly sensitive. If we take on too much, this means we also take on too much of other people’s stuff (emotional and physical) leading only to burnout, depression and disease.
Second, that parenting takes up a huge amount of energy (whether we want it to or not). We simply don’t have the full tanks we used to pre-kids, to expend on what we choose. So we need to be careful about what we commit ourselves to and even more careful about taking time-out to replenish those precious tanks of ‘you juice’.
And that means self-care.
Yes, it’s an overused, slightly wishy-washy umbrella term that could mean lots of different things to different people, but that’s the whole point. Self-care is what makes YOU feel better about yourself, however weird and wacky that activity might seem to others. It could be picking your spots last thing before bed, going for a walk in Nature, indulging your inner neat-freak by colour-coding your wardrobe or learning to fly a plane.
I see self-care as falling into two camps: the nourishing sort (think cups of delicious tea, massage, lying in the sun, reading in bed, chats with your bezzies, steaming hot salt baths) and the revitalising sort (think sports, gardening, dancing etc). It doesn’t matter which camp is your natural self-care go-to, what does matter is incorporating at least one item from either list into your routine, on at least a weekly basis.
And there’s the rub: fitting it in. Actually doing it. Scheduling in time for yourself somewhere near the top of your to-do list rather than at the bottom underneath a myriad of chores.
Why is this so hard to do? Because as a society, we have not been taught to value ourselves over and above what we DO in the world. We have forgotten what it is like to be a human being rather than a human doing and in a world that glorifies the term ‘busy’, we have assumed that to get ahead and achieve our maximum, we should always be switched on.
But is this how we want our kids to grow up? No! So why should we fall in line with this crazy, short-termist attitude to life and health? Why not be pioneers instead?
Let’s see rest as a revolutionary act and start implementing it as though our lives depended on it! (Mama truth bomb: they do).
And if you’re still feeling like self-care is indulgent and selfish, keep my top four reasons to ditch the mama guilt close to hand:
- Just think how many hours you have been ‘on duty’and tally that up against how many you plan to take time ‘off’. There’s bound to be a huge imbalance.
- Remember that giving yourself permission to do something that feels good and gives you joy, is also allowing others to do the same. By expressing your needs and asking that these be met (something we all struggle with as remote descendants of Victorian disciplinarians), you are showing your partner how they too are worth investing in
- Partaking in some self-care without the kids is showing your children that life doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Hard effort deserves celebration – you would celebrate their achievements, so why not celebrate yours, however small, menial or routine they might seem to you at the time?
- Happy Mama = Happy Family (and vice versa) You wouldn’t want to inflict shouty, resentful mama on them, would you?
So, self-care or be square. Your kids/partner/health will thank you for it…
Lavinia Brown (aka BoboMama) is a qualified transition coach for mothers. She supports women to reach their greatest potential – at home and in the workplace – whilst successfully managing the ‘life bomb’ that is kids. See www.bobomama.net for more details or follow her on social media for daily doses of mama medicine: click here for Insta and here forFB