Whether your baby is newborn or in their teens, there comes a time in a mum’s life where she wants to return to her pre-baby self. Devoting time, money and energy into raising the most well-rounded, nourished and loved little people can leave you feeling a little ‘blah’. But how do you make time for ‘you’ when the washing is mounting, the dishwasher is relentlessly full, deadlines demand attention and connecting with your partner is relegated to bottom of your ‘To Do’ list?
Whether you’re a working mum, a stay-at-home mum or somewhere in between, your whole family will benefit from you making an investment in you. And yes, it’s another thing to do before you flop face-first into your pillow at night. And yes, you’ll feel guilty taking time for you when the vacuum calls with its siren song. And yes, you’ll wonder whether every other mum has felt as exhausted, flat or unmotivated as you (the answer is a resounding YES, by the way). But by saying YES to some dedicated me-time, you’ll also say yes to regaining your mojo – breaking free of the ‘mum’ tag, indulging in the things that bring you simple joy, and rediscovering your relationship with your friends, partner and self.
Where to start? Think simple pleasures – top up your tank with nourishing food, adequate rest, and easy indulgences to boost your glow.
Nourish your body with whole, slow foods where you can. You spend valuable time and money on quality foods for the kids (whether you’re blitzing organic broccoli for bub or making super-food smoothies for your picky teen), but how often do you invest the same in yourself? If your staple diet consists of the kids’ leftovers, anything you can eat one-handed on the run, or the carbs-and-caffeine rollercoaster, you’ll never feel your best. Quality protein, green leafies, slow-release carbs (quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice and oats are great; that choc-chip muffin at morning tea, not so much), plenty of water and some quality dark chocolate will nourish body AND soul, and ensure you’re not running on empty.
Can’t face two litres of water a day? Take a tip from The Body, Elle MacPherson, who strategically stations 500ml water bottles at key points around her home (think kitchen, laundry, bathroom, bedroom), to remind her to drink up regularly. Or try mineral water with lemon or lime, or top up with herbal tea (especially when it’s too chilly to face another glass of iced water).
Supplements can also help. Zinc, magnesium and chromium deficiency can cause cravings – a naturopath can check your levels, put you on the right path, and get your nutrition – and body – firing again.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.” It’s common advice, often unhelpfully doled out to the sleep-deprived mum who is running on pure adrenalin. Yes, sleep is gold for the soul (and the skin . . . and the body . . . and the mind!). But if you can’t switch off, or baby sleeps at 10am and you’ve got a full schedule to get through, or you’re back to work and don’t have the luxury of a daytime nap, you’ll need some other options to switch off, unplug and recharge.
Can’t sleep? Just lying down for ten to twenty minutes with your eyes closed and deep breathing can be enough to make it through the afternoon. Or try Viparita Karani – otherwise known as Legs-Up-The-Wall pose. Deeply restorative and restful for your legs, back, spine and head, it calms the mind and quietsthe nervous system. Simply lay on the ground with your sit-bones as close to the wall as possible, rest your legs up against the wall and hey presto, you’re doing yoga without even trying.
Can’t relax your mind? Try colouring in. Yes, really, it’s a thing. Mindful meditation through colouring in for adults is now a movement, with classes, social groups and a wide range of colouring in books available. If your head is full of deadlines, To Do lists and worry, try this one. Focusing solely on the act of colouring in boosts clarity, calms the mind and improves creativity.
Can’t calm down? If you’re in constant ‘Go’ mode, a soothing yoga class or meditation is the last thing you’ll want. It’s time to get active. Get your headphones on, turn the beats up loud, and start striding out. Whether you’re a runner or a walker, alone or pushing a pram (or scooter, or dragging the dog!), getting outside and active can sometimes be as restorative as a nap. Just don’t push it too hard or you’ll end up more exhausted than when you started.
When you’re feeling washed out, the last thing you want to do is look it. Quick fixes to get your pre-kids glow back?
- Dry shampoo. When your everyday hairdo is a topknot and you can’t remember the last time you actually had time to blow dry your hair, dry shampoo is mother’s saviour.
- Cheek / lip tint. Most brands, from Clinique to Maybelline, now make some form of ‘chubby’ stick – a combo cheek and lip tint. Crayon-style and easy to apply, a soft pink or peach will add life to your face, even if you’re flagging on two hours’ sleep. And since you can even grab one from the Beauty aisle of your supermarket, you can boost your glow next time you’re doing the grocery run.
- Eyebrow and eyelash tint. Brows make your face. Groomed, defined brows make you look younger and ‘finished’, even with not a scrap of makeup on. Tinted and curled lashes make up for a night up with the kids, and avoids the ‘panda-eye’ situation confronting you in the bathroom mirror after yet another night crashed out with your makeup on.
- Make a date with your partner – or your friend, or yourself. There’s nothing like dressing up, spraying on some fake-bake, spritzing yourself with your favourite perfume and heading out for an adults-only adventure to get your glow on. Coffee date with your sister? Girls’ night out? Dinner for two with your partner? Whatever the occasion, just get up and glow.
Making regular time for you will pay huge dividends – happy wife, happy life? And happy kids. Happy you. Happy family. Enjoy.