Realistic Self-care For Tired Mums
Our Wantirna naturopath and reiki practitioner, Kirsten Parkinson, on being a mother in today’s world.
Most conversations I have with people these days start something like this:
Me: “Tired” **grumpy zombie face** YAWWWN
Does this sound familiar?
It’s no wonder mums are so exhausted. Our lifestyles mean we’re often tired and burnt out well before we’re even pregnant. During pregnancy our bodies are depleted of nutrients, we struggle to sleep and we think there’s no way we could POSSIBLY be any more tired than we are right now (HA!).
Then after having children, society expects us to carry on as we were before – working, rushing around after everyone, cooking, cleaning, remembering to buy toilet paper – with the added luxury of being chronically sleep deprived. Not just for a few weeks or months like I naively believed pre-baby, but for YEARS!
This is why self-care is more important than it has ever been, and it’s going to look quite different to how it looked pre-children. One of the keys to effective self-care as a mum is implementing small, achievable things that are going to make a long-term difference.
I would be lying if I told you I spring out of bed every morning, drink my green
smoothie, go for a quick run followed by some yoga and an hour of meditation. No. I’m mum to a one-year-old who wakes a bazillion times per night and sits on my face when I try to do yoga. Strong coffee is my elixir of choice every morning and it’s a good day when I manage to have a shower and brush my hair.
When it comes to managing stress and fatigue, mums have a unique need for strategies that are relatively quick, easy, and can be done with a toddler sitting on their face. That’s why I LOVE working with tired mums, helping them to build some realistic self-care into their daily lives to prevent burnout, improve their energy and lift their mood so they can go from being a tired, grumpy zombie mum to being happy, relaxed and able to enjoy their time spent with their little ones.
Here are a few simple self-care things you can do every day that will make a difference in the long-term:
Go for a walk, even if you really don’t feel like it. Exercising lifts your mood and helps to stave off depression and anxiety. As an added bonus, the baby might fall asleep in the pram or carrier.
Breathe. Spending weekends at meditation retreats might not be possible right now, but taking a few moments in your day to breathe deeply can positively impact your mental health. If your kids won’t let you sit still for a moment, try lying on the floor while they play next to you or climb on you, or focus on your breath for a few minutes while you feed the baby.
Have a hot shower every day. Spend a bit of extra time in there if you can and make it a little bit luxurious. Light a candle, use some fancy soap and nice moisturiser afterwards. Buy your own fluffy bath towel and keep it hidden from everyone else so it stays nice. It’ll feel a bit like you’re at a day spa – just kick the bath toys out of the way.
Go to bed early. Even though it is nice to have some alone time with your partner at night after the kids are finally in bed, an extra hour or two of sleep can make all the difference to your energy levels the next day. The dishes and piles of washing can wait until tomorrow.
Plan ahead for some alone time. Enlist the regular help of someone to look after the kids for a couple of hours, whether it’s a family member, your partner or a babysitter. My mother-in-law has my daughter every Wednesday while I’m at work, and my husband sets aside a block of time every weekend so I can have a bit of me time. When I’m feeling tired and crappy I look forward to offloading the baby and plan out what I’m going to do with my (albeit short-lived) freedom.
If you’d like some personalised one-on-one help to improve your energy and reduce that all-encompassing mum fatigue, I offer naturopathy and reiki consultations on Wednesdays. You’re more than welcome to bring your kids along too.