10 essential wellbeing tips for Mums

As Mums we all too often spend our time looking after everybody else’s wellbeing without considering our own. Our lists get longer and the days seem shorter. We don’t always have enough support and juggling work and home life can be a challenge. We can also be our toughest critics, setting unrealistic goals with high expectations of ourselves. The good news is that a shift in mind-set and increase in self-care can help to increase our wellbeing.
Stop self-criticism
How hard are we on ourselves? Never living up to our super, high level parental expectations. Forever falling short of the perfect picture of parenthood in our head. How aware are you of this critical voice? How much airplay does it get?  
The solution is to stay aware of what you tell yourself. Instead of allowing this negative monologue to constantly colour your emotional landscape create space by paying attention to its voice. Let the thought pass on by or flip your thought to a positive one.
For example, be aware of telling yourself ‘I am not getting enough done’ and change that thought to ‘I am doing enough’ because you are, more than enough, every day!
Give that critical voice a persona. Name, face, character traits. When it kicks off acknowledge its opinion and choose to send him/her to the naughty step, you don’t have to listen to them.

Change your language
How many times do we think or say ‘I have to’ or ‘I must’ or ‘I can’t’?  This type of language has a negative bias and can make us feel stuck or restricted. This leads to lower levels of satisfaction and wellbeing. A simple way to counter this is to reframe your language in a positive way. For example, instead of saying ‘I have to make the kids tea’ say ‘I choose to make the kids tea’ acknowledging the fact that you have food in the cupboard to put on the table. Being a Mum is a challenge but when your language reflects this challenge as one of choice it can have a profound effect on your wellness.

Don’t compare
It’s so tempting isn’t it? ‘I haven’t lost as much baby weight as x’ or ‘little y hasn’t reached the same reading level as little z what am I doing wrong’ or ‘my meals come out of the freezer half the week and x cooks an Anabel Karmel extravaganza from scratch every night’. It’s a fact that drawing comparisons in your everyday life leads to lower levels of satisfaction and low self-esteem. Focus on your strengths and accept that every child is unique and develops at their own pace. Embrace the difference in yourself and others and stop setting benchmarks from those around you. Work to your own plan, guess what? It works. PS: social media reality does not reflect reality. It is a glossy veneer and doesn’t serve you well in this exercise.

Let go of perfectionism
As the saying goes around children and animals, things don’t always go to plan. The tighter you cling to how things ‘should be’ the unhappier you will be when reality doesn’t quite live up to expectation. This is not a Mary Poppins sing song.  Enjoy the moment for what it is, perfectly imperfect. If a part of you can embrace the glorious chaos of family life and your role in that amazing creation you will feel more relaxed and content (and enjoy the moment).

Acceptance/Release control
Let’s face it children are a variable. All the time. We cannot micro manage every aspect of being a Mum. Stuff is going to blind side you, stop you in your tracks and steer you off course. Resisting this flow can make us feel anxious and low. How can we increase our resilience to this? (particularly if we are used to being in control). Keep your plans fairly flexible, don’t become fixed on a particular outcome and accept when things don’t go as expected. Open yourself up to the possibility that the outcome might be better than you could envisage. Have faith in your abilities and relax a little. Practice letting go and you will find an improved level of acceptance and peace in the present.

Make time to play
Motherhood can be a serious business. Ironically, we have more opportunities to play than most but can be so caught up in keeping order that we forget to laugh and have fun. Its easy to do when you start the day barking like a sergeant major just to get them out the door. Making time to play translates as anything that makes you laugh, constitutes fun (genuine), makes you relax and get a bit silly. Its endorphin releasing and essential for sanity. Yes, go bounce on that trampoline out back if your pelvic floor is up to it.    
 
Put yourself on the list
Not at the bottom because we all know you never reach that far. Taking regular time out to do something you love will benefit you and everyone around you. If you feel guilty taking ‘me time’ remember the instruction about the oxygen mask on an aircraft. Putting yours on first means you can effectively care for those around you. Let’s face it self-care for Mums should be a humanitarian mission. Time is an issue but boundaries are essential. Ring fence a time and activity that suits and let everybody know that you are taking care of yourself (for a while).  

Stop catastrophe thinking
Guess what little Tom isn’t going to end up a crack addict because you didn’t make the school play this afternoon. There are other school plays. When we are busy juggling a myriad of things it can become easy to slip into this extreme of thinking. The sky is not going to fall in if one thing on the list isn’t ticked. We cannot predict outcomes for our children’s lives and we are doing our best. Which is good enough. If you slip into catastrophe thinking or fortune telling, question yourself. ‘Do I actually know this to be true’? ‘How likely is this’? ‘How serious is this really’?     

Connect
Strong relationships and connections are essential for good mental health. This isn’t just logging into your social media every day but getting out to meet like-minded people and joining groups that resonate with you. Connecting with others is a recognized step in feeling happy and well. Meet with a group, phone a friend or visit a family member regularly.  

Eating well
It can be hard to eat well when we are so busy. Grabbing kids ham from the fridge or a biscuit with coffee doesn’t constitute a balanced diet. Keeping blood sugar levels even is essential for energy and mood.  Remember to stop and eat regular balanced meals. Avoid processed foods and sugary snacks. Eat healthy fats for brain health such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil. Watch your alcohol and caffeine intake and keep hydrated. 

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