Simple self care when caring for young children

Self care. 

We all hear how important it is, right? But who has the money for a massage? And if we did have the money, who would look after the kids? 

When we hear the words "self care" we often imagine luxurious spa days, massages, manicures and fancy hair cuts. This is what media and advertising would like us to think self care was, and for some people who enjoy these kinds of things, it can indeed be a form of self care.  However, I am a woman of simple needs. A home body who is most comfortable in leggings, a soft dress and a cardigan. If, like me, you have a bunch of small children to care for, have mobility problems, or are living with a tight budget these kinds of costly 'self care' experiences are totally unattainable.
And to be honest, while it is important we get a chance to step away from the weight of our responsibilities from time to time to breathe deeply and be alone with our thoughts, the kind of self care I find most helpful is in the small daily habits. 

During this seemingly never ending season of COVID self care is incredibly important. Lots of us are tired and the world feels heavy and uncertain. People are facing unemployment, reduced hours and financial hardship. They are trying to work form home while homeschooling/home educating small children, which for any one who is in this position, it is a near impossible task. And then there are those who are most at risk of getting sick or are sick. The burn out and exhaustion people are facing is very real and many people are teetering on the edge.

So what does self care look like in this heavy, time poor, cash poor, uncertain season of life? 

For lots of people, their time is stretched so thin trying to juggle all the balls that self care can only exist in small pockets of time. With this in mind, I thought I would share a few things I find helpful.
Actually taking 5 minutes to sit down to drink a nice hot cuppa, preferably somewhere sunny or where you can look out to nature. 

If drinking a cuppa alone isn't an option, create a ritual of 'tea time' and serve the kids sweet camomile tea or warm milk in their own little mug and drink your 'tea' together. It might take a little time to get in routine, but at the very least I found it had the affect of making me feel like we are vaguely civilised. 

Listen to the essential news and then turn it off. We know COVID is crap and horrible. It's important to keep up to date, but it serves no purpose to us to down our selves in it by listening to the news all day. Popping on some favourite music or an uplifting podcast is much more beneficial.

Breathe. Take 5 slow deep breaths. Stop and do it throughout the day when you feel that tension settling in your chest.  

Embrace your inner cat and stretch if you're finding yourself sitting for long periods of time. 

Pack away toys and rotate them so at the end of the day you don't have to clean up an insanely messy area. 

Take a walk around the yard along or with the little person in your life. Take the time to look at your plants and even pulling a few weeds. If you get to clear a little section, perhaps you can plant some cheerful flowers or herbs. 

Take a moment to pop on a podcast while folding the never ending rounds of washing. Or don't fold it and chuck it on the spare bed and make a game of the kids finding their clothes every morning. what ever works. Just don't beat yourself up over it either way. 

Pop on a show/movie for the kids and actually lay down on the couch while they watch it, rather than using that time to catch up. Because really, when it comes to a house full of small children, one is never actually caught up. 

Have a hot shower, change into clean clothes and actually use the moisturiser that's been relegated to the back of the cabinet, forgotten in the midst of teaching children to wipe their own bottoms and brush their teeth. 

Change your sheets and dust your bedside tables to help create a clear, relaxing sleep space.

Open the windows to let in the fresh air.

Give some love to your indoor plants. Get rid of dead ones and replace them with hardier options. Don't beat yourself up about killing them, think of them like a bunch of flowers. They gave you joy while they were alive and even the best gardeners have things die on them. It's all trial and error.    

If social media is sucking my time and energy I will delete them off my phone and plug my phone in so it's not right next to me to avoid mindless scrolling. 

When it comes to bath time, pop a few drops of lavender oil in the bath and some magnesium salts to aid in a restful sleep for the big and the small people in the house. 

Try to cook a nourishing meal in bulk every few days. Less cooking, less dishes and it saves money and time. If you can make it a one pot meal where all the veggies are incorporated even better. And if you're too tired, scrambled eggs on toast is a perfectly acceptable meal. And two minute noodles, whilst not being the best option, will fill tummies with no fighting just fine. My kids love when they get two minute noodles for dinner. I figure if you serve fruit and yoghurt for dessert and you're looking at a pretty balanced meal. 

These little daily rituals are the kinds of things that fill my cup when life feels heavy. They are not grand nor impressive, and part of me feels a little silly writing such a list. But these things exist as small reminders to breathe and to remember the way we spend our minutes is the way we spend our days and as such, our lives. I know from my own experience it can be all too easy to throw myself deep into mothering, and then find myself drowning under the weight. Having forgotten that I too have needs that need to be tended too.  

So dear readers, what little rituals do you find helpful in your day to keep you steady? Is there anything in this list that resonates with you? 

Much love,
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