Guilty If You Do, Guilty If You Don’t: Learning the Art of Self-Care
The responsibilities of motherhood seem never-ending; we work hard to juggle all aspects of our lives, balancing work, family demands and relationships all on top of trying to find time to wash our hair.
Parenting expert, Emmy Samtani shares her top tips for guilt-free self-care
Being a modern mother means living a fast-paced, emotionally charged lifestyle run on little sleep and a lot of coffee. Yet, while the juggle is the same for us all, the challenges we face as a result are unique to each mother.
Still, the one thing we all have in common is ‘not enough hours in the day’, a phrase likely coined by an overworked mother, though I’ve yet had time to Google to find out who.
So, what happens when a quick scroll on the ‘gram’ – you know, that two spare minutes somewhere between finishing bedtime and tidying up dinner – reveals that every mother on your news feed managed a moment to themselves that day, but you didn’t?
Oh, hello, guilt. And according to new research, you’re not alone.
A recent survey conducted by Australian pregnancy multivitamin brand, Natalis, revealed that while 94% of mothers recognise they would benefit from a little self-care, a whopping 96% of us feel guilty for the time we spend on it.
If you’re anything like me, it’s the state of the house and the piling laundry that’s reason enough to park the self-care and bubble baths.
As a parenting expert and busy working mum to three young children, what I’m seeing is a self-care paradox: on the one hand, the self-care movement has been great for highlighting how important it is for us to take an active role in protecting our wellbeing and happiness. Still, on the flip side, it’s become another item on the to-do list.
While guilt is a normal, healthy emotion to feel, it’s crucial to integrate a level of self-care into your lifestyle that allows you to fill your cup, minus the anxiety.
Self-care should not be about shame or comparison but about finding the thing that fills your cup. If, for you, that’s mindlessly scrolling on your phone, or sitting outside in the sun for five minutes to drink a coffee while the TV babysits the kids, then that’s self-care. If you can carve out time to have a long, hot bath or get a babysitter and head out with your partner, that’s great too.
So how should stressed and time-poor mums get started?
Here are my top tips to make self-care a guilt-free affair:
1. Identify your ‘village’ and communicate with them
The adage is ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t receive’, which rings true for self-care. It could be as simple as your partner organising dinner so you can take a bath or asking your mum to watch the kids for a few hours so you can squeeze in a yoga class. Family and friends are often delighted to help out and building a community of like-minded people will benefit everyone in the long term.
2. Switch off your socials
Social media often shows the perfect moments of motherhood, and its unrealistic standard can cause negative emotions like guilt, jealousy or inadequacy. While reducing your use of social media won’t stop these feelings, it can help form a healthier idea of self-care and motherhood. The Natalis study found that realistic, regular self-care practice could be enjoying a coffee while hot (36%) or chasing the endorphins via exercise (22%).
3. Set time in your diary
If you’ve already committed, you’re less likely to flake out. You could be setting aside a meagre five minutes, but this a start! It’s all about practice, so getting into the habit of setting a time in the diary can be super beneficial in the long run. Boundaries and communication are vital during this time. If you have set aside 30 minutes after dinner, your partner needs to be proactive in entertaining the kids and taking charge of any general household tasks.
For more information on the Natalis Pregnancy support range, visit natalispregnancy.com.au/