Back in 1996, to have someone say ‘You love yourself’ was pretty much the worst slating you could get from the mean girls at school. Not that it was much of an issue; at fifteen years of age, self confidence wasn’t exactly something I was filled with, nor many of my friends. Perhaps that’s where as a generation we went a little wrong.
Because to be honest, aside from the positive, life coach, inspirational women I follow on social media, in real life, at 36 years old, I still don’t think it would go down too well amongst my peers to be seen to love myself too much.
But let’s not get self love confused with arrogance here. It’s not about walking in to a room with your nose in the air, looking down at others; it’s about being in tune with what you need as a person to feel happy, content, healthy and prioritising your wellbeing.
As I raise two daughters, who I want to have a body positive, happy and content attitude as they approach their tweens, teens and beyond, I realise that leading by example has to start at the grass roots level. I need to break the mould and start embracing some self care, some positive outlook at my body shape and what my body has achieved, and also learn to accept the person I am, and be a little kinder to her.
Making me time
It’s hard at first to connect having space from your kids as being good for them, but I’ve come to realise to be fulfilled and content, you need to make time for the things you love. That may mean taking up a hobby, or joining a group totally external to your family commitments. It may be a form of exercise, a new book to get lost in or just a night down the pub with your girlfriends, but whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries and let off steam, is definitely time well spent. We all need to feel like ‘us’ and you need to take charge and make it happen.
Pump the endorphins
That fifteen year old me would have laughed in the face of the thirty six year old me when she discovered a love of running. But making time to get outside in the elements, some clear time to reflect on my week, thrash through my thoughts and frankly look up in wonder at the blue skies or down at the yellow lichen on the pavement has been a revelation. I don’t know if mindful running is a thing, but I guess to me it’s a little like meditation; a time to be present in the moment as opposed to getting on with the next item on my to do list. Plus, the post run glow is incredibly uplifting; be it the endorphins or just knowing you’ve made time for yourself to do something good, I like it.
I’m not for a minute suggesting that you need to put additional pressure on yourself to look like a magazine cover, far from it. Years of being a stay at home Mum with no real reason to ‘glam up’ during the day left me feeling a little bit ‘meh’. What I have discovered is that a little bit of time to put on an outfit which makes me feel less Mumsy, or do my hair in a way that makes me feel less ‘just rolled out of bed’ does wonders for my mood. (Massive shout out to the sparkle queen Women with Sparkle Sally – follow her!). Add to that elements of fun; colour, accessories, patterns and florals and there’s a definite spring in my step. Of course clothes still have to work for me, but practical and fashionable don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And for the record, there is still plenty of room for onesie o’clock.
Love your body
I realise for some of us that’s easier said than done, as years of pining to be slimmer, bigger, firmer, taller, bigger boobs, smaller chested, are hard to undo. Society has put some demons in our minds and in order for us to raise a generation of body positive young women (and for our own happiness) we need to start realising some of us were never intended to have a Kate Moss figure. Just one look at your own Mother could probably tell you what your genetic make up had planned for you.
Acceptance and pride in what our bodies are; the amazing vessel that carries us through this incredible journey called life could bring each of us so much more contentment. So what do you say, start loving that beautiful booty a bit more and let the never ending unreal expectations to just lose ‘a little bit more’ go? Pass the hob nobs, I’ll dunk to that.
…And treat it right
Those folk who talk about drinking more water, more veg, less junk. You know what, they are actually on to something. When you’re feeling a bit poop, a binge on all the chocolate, wine, chips [insert guilty pleasure here] is an all too easy trap. In both long and short term, we all know this ain’t no fix. Try a different approach and use the good stuff to make you feel more, well, good. It works!
When it comes to booze, many of us (like me) love a drink here or there. It’s an easy path to abuse after a testing day at work, with the kids, all of the above, but I’ve tried to adopt an attitude of drinking to celebrate as opposed to commiserate. Like, for example, Friday night, wedding, party, barbeque, cheers guys!…but less on the ‘wow that was a really shit day I need a drink’. Of course I’m not perfect, and I break my own rules now and again, but as a general philosophy, I like it’s simplicity.
R & R
Fulfilment comes in all shapes and sizes, and whilst we are all under pressure to be in so many places ALL the TIME, I’ve realised there is joy in missing out. Down time as a family either at home or in an understated form; a picnic, a walk, a trip to the garden centre is as important as the days packed end to end with social events. Busy Mums need rest and recovery, so when you can find those simple moments, grab them with both hands.
Make time for your relationship
I’m not talking in a 1950’s ‘pop on a pretty dress when he walks in the door’ here. (Hell No!). But if you’re parenting as a team, it figures to make sure you have decent team building events. Reconnect as him and her (or her and her, him and him) so you can regroup, have a giggle, and remind yourself who you were before you became Mum and Dad. Date night comes in many forms, and even if you grab a quick breakfast together, turn off the TV for a game of scrabble, head away for a weekend or just go for a quick pint after parents evening, you’ll never regret making that time for each other.
Ask for help
No wo(man) is an island. Even if your family infrastructure doesn’t demand help, that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Whilst we all display a super strong ‘managing okay’ front, no one will know we need a little TLC if we never ask for it. Find your village and get them involved – even if that is a friend you can plan a child swap with, a relative you can lean on for help with the kids, or even to ask the hubby to take a day off for no real reason other than to man the fort while you do something else from the usual grind.
Indulge in the simple things
Many of these self care examples require a little bit of planning, jiggery pokery, beg stealing or borrowing. Sometimes that just isn’t practical, is it?
But, there’s nothing stopping you lighting some candles in the bathroom, having a hot indulgent soak, listening to chilled tunes with a slab of chocolate, a glass of wine and a book. Heaven right? So what are you waiting for…