Me time isn’t being selfish

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I am working through a book with a friend, a personal development type one. The first chapter was all about creating self-care – the author went so far as to talk about extreme self-care and the importance of it. Our first task was to create a time each week which was our time – no work, no family stuff, no housework but a time for us. Sounds simple! But so difficult. We were to learn to write in journals and to record our feelings of creating this self care time, any issues we had with it, any stumbling blocks, any obstacles we came up against while sorting this out.

Well, the first couple of weeks , maybe even the first month was easy – what bliss to have some time to myself. Little bit awkward working out what to do – so much I could do and was ‘allowed’ to do.

But it soon became easy to use this specified time to catch up on work things (because If I am doing work things it means less stress doesn’t it? Or housework because then I can relax some other time in my tidy clean house) We are only 4 chapters in. (This next one is on finance – I am not looking forward to going in depth into finances and money and the issues that raises) But I digress. Self care, let’s get back on track.

Self care – has self in it – like selfish – and it’s not good to be selfish is it – that brings up feelings of putting yourself before others and that’s ‘not nice’. We are busy mothers, we have our little ones to look after, a house to take care of, shopping and cooking and then work on top of that. It can be easy to shove any  of our needs to the bottom of the pile.

But then comes that niggle, that little voice ‘I’m tired, I’m exhausted, I can’t think straight, who am I, where did the me I used to be disappear to’

Remember the oxygen mask rule? I think that gets passed around when your little baby becomes a toddler and you sit with other mums and talk about just being able to go to the loo by yourself or have 2 minutes to yourself or how nice it would be to pick up a cup of tea and for it to be warm rather than cold. But it seems so hard to make that time, in some ways it is talked about as some kind of golden egg, an ideal but not able to be implemented. If one woman says she managed to have some time to herself there are cries of ‘lucky you’ and ‘gosh if only…’ it becomes almost taboo to make some time for yourself. And it is easy to lapse back into putting your needs back to the bottom of the pile.

But the oxygen mask rule is so very important to remember – maybe even worthy of being discussed in antenatal classes and being a subject of post partum care. If you don’t make time for yourself (and it doesn’t have to be long, it also doesn’t have to be one big chunk of time – much of weaving this into your way of life is being creative and realistic about how much and when it can be done).

If we are not to become a ‘shouty mum’, a tutting person, a mutterer under our breath, an exhausted mass of resentful feelings, a huffer and a puffer an ‘oh for goodness sake I have just sat down’ sayer, we need to take time out for ourselves.

So how?

For me it can be as simple as stopping myself mid flurry of multiple tasks to just spend a few seconds mindfully breathing to get back some focus, or to stand at the door and listen to the birds, let my eyes absorb the beautiful colours that nature provides.

More in depth might be to sit with a cup of tea and read a chapter of a book, sometimes even the focus of stilling my mind enough to the slow pace of a book can be hard and makes me realise just how frantic I have become.

Other times it’s putting on some great music and dancing in the kitchen, moving, jumping being free.

Lots of little things I can add into my day to just feel refreshed, rediscover me and slow down. My challenge for this month is to get out in nature everyday, even if it is just a walk round the garden and to just notice all the beautiful things, the buds coming out on the branches, kneel down and really see the colours of a plant.

Sooo – how about you – what small things can you start implementing daily to help you get some me time? How does it feel to work on getting some me time? Do you feel guilty? Excited? Anxious?…. How does it manifest in your body? An ache? A shortness of breath?…… What thoughts come into your head to try and put you off giving yourself some much needed space and me time?…. Sometimes it is necessary to really explore these feelings, examine why they come up, allow them to rise unchallenged and just feel them. Then it is easier to let them go so they don’t govern your everyday life.

I’d love to know how you get on and what you are implementing to get your me time.