Discover micro self-care when the kids are back at school, Lou Murray

Parenting can be one of the most rewarding, but also most demanding, jobs in the world. Juggling home and work life has always been a challenge. But over the last 18 months, the demands upon parents have reached a WHOLE NEW LEVEL.

Juggling childcare and working from home has been one of the hardest aspects of the whole pandemic for many families.
Many went into survival mode, trying to protect themselves and their family through an unprecedented public health crisis. For many of us, our own health, well-being and self-care were put on the backburner. “What self-care?” I hear you ask!

When you’re a parent (especially a parent working from home and home-schooling kids through a pandemic!) self-care is often put on the back burner. While this may feel necessary since you are the ‘caregiver,’ taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it’s essential. Self-care is self-preservation – not a treat. It’s about keeping yourself well physically, mentally and emotionally so you can better navigate the challenges of parenting and to help ensure you can be the best version of yourself for those that need you.

When kids return to school, although there are mixed feelings for many of us – a lot of parents (read: most parents) will be breathing a sigh of relief that FINALLY, they have a little more breathing space.

If you haven’t a clue where to start when it comes to self-care, or you’ve simply forgotten, don’t worry, because these things can be learned, and can develop into healthy habits. So make this back to school period a time for you to embrace self-care strategies to minimise the effects of stress and burnout.

Time is still precious for any parent, which is why we love the concept of MICRO-SELF CARE! Let’s be real, it’s not feasible to soak in bubble baths for hours or go cloud-watching when you are navigating the chaos of parenthood. So, the trick is to practice self-care in super short intervals, little micro moments, so you can easily fit them into your jampacked routine. Start with just 10 minutes a day and build it up from there. You owe it to yourself to give yourself those 10 minutes.

Sounds good? Here are 5 of our favourite micro-self care tools for parents that have ‘no time’ for self-care….

1. BREATHE
I honestly believe that energy boosting breathwork can be better than caffeine. Use the power of breath to create an incredible feeling of energy, clarity and focus through your body. Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders. If you’re not breathing optimally, you’re robbing yourself of energy. The way you breath may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired. This is because proper, controlled breathing ensures an optimal oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. This is vital for high energy and mental alertness levels. Since oxygen is the breath of life, it’s rocket fuel for the body and mind. Oxygen is a form of energy fuel for the body.

Do this simple breathing exercise twice a day or whenever you feel yourself losing steam:

  • Deeply exhale with a whoosh sound
  • Deeply inhale through the nose for 4, hold for 7, exhale through the mouth for 8
  • Repeat for 4 breaths

2: CUP OF CALM
When you start feeling a little overwhelmed, this is a great ‘2-minute’ self-care tool. Mindful meditation doesn’t need to take a long time, just 2 or 3 minutes can be enough to give you a little space to slow down, press pause, re-connect and re-energise for the rest of the day. So if you are feeling a little stressed, just a couple of minutes to practice this ‘cup of calm’ mindful moment …
Make yourself a cup of your favourite warm drink and sit down. Notice three things in this moment – the colour of the drink, the weight of the mug, the feeling of the chair. Then consciously breath into your shoulders, try and relax them down a little and enjoy your cuppa – savouring the flavour. Return gently to the senses whenever you notice the mind straying into thought. Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyse what’s happening.

3: SAY NO MORE!
Do you often feel like you’re pulled in a million different directions trying to please everyone? You might even feel guilty about saying no to certain requests from family members, children, work colleagues or friends. But you shouldn’t! It’s okay to say no sometimes, and to not take on extra work on your plate when you don’t think you can manage it or it will stress you out. Remember to look after yourself as much as you look after others around you, or you could be in danger of burning out.
‘No’ is such a small word yet so hard to say! You can say no and still be a good friend, colleague, sister, person. Sometimes you’ve just got to take care of YOU.

Saying no is empowering. Saying ‘no’ is a massive self-care gift to yourself. Even saying ‘yes’ to things you are ‘meh’ about means you will be out of time and energy for the things you want to give a big fat YES to. So if it’s not a hell yeah – it’s a no. Design your life around the good stuff, make space for that first so that the not so good stuff slowly slips away. Here are a few ways you can say ‘no’

  • While my heart wants to say ‘yes’, the reality of what’s on my plate right now makes this a ‘no’ for me at the moment. Thanks for thinking of me.
  • I am really touched by your request, and although it’s hard for me to say ‘no’, it is so necessary. I’m grateful that our relationship allows me to be honest about where I am.
  • This sounds wonderful and as much as I would love to be involved, I can’t give it the attention it deserves right now. I am cheering for your success!
  • No, thank you. (sometimes it can be as simple as that!)

4: DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Gratitude is a fantastic little mindset makeover tool and something that you can practice throughout the day as you go, so it doesn’t add anything extra to your ever-mounting ‘to do’ list. Just try and slow down just a fraction, just enough to briefly ‘press pause’ and just try and be in the moment of whatever you are experiencing and mentally note down what you are grateful for in that moment.

So for example – a child’s laugh. Just be in that moment and mentally note down how grateful you are for that magical laugh. DONE! That’s it. Try and rack up as many of these as you can throughout your day. This micro self-care tool will help you embrace the everyday magic amongst the chaos and whirlwind of motherhood. Magic moments, are all around you if you can just try and tune into them – and if you can you are going to feel more positive, happier, grounded, calm and in control. You will shift your mindset into a positive ‘high vibe’ zone – and you will start to actually subconsciously train your brain to see more positivity all around you and in return this will attract more positivity into your life.

5: THOUGHT SHAKE
Do you sometimes need a thought shake? If you are feeling a bit low or a bit flat, seek positive inspiration from others. It helps to shake your thoughts up – replacing any negative chatter in your head with positivity instead.

This might mean grabbing a quick coffee with a great friend, listening to your favourite music, listening to an uplifting podcast, or reading an inspirational book. If you choose a book or a podcast; set an alarm for 10 minutes, read/listen away and then you will come away feeling much more positive and ready to get on with the day again.

Sometimes our minds just need a little break and a good dose of positive high vibes to reboot and help us keep going! Learning to be in-tune with your mood and noticing when your mood starts to dip, and then having some simple tools to hand that work for you is a real gamechanger.