Embracing Simple – Why you need to stop doing it all!

Have you ever really listened to what your body is telling you? Like really listened? I strongly believe that our body sends us signals all the time and we need to learn to listen to it. As women we have been fed this dribble about having it all, having the career, the kids, the house, the nice car, the weekly yoga lessons we can even have our cake and eat it too. But what happens when we have it all and we are struggling to keep up with “it all”? Do we really need and want it all?

Having it all means juggling 10 balls in the air hoping that you catch each one as they come down then transferring it to the other hand and throwing it up again. Having it all is certainly not easy and it creates so much unneccesary stress on our bodies. Instead of having it all women need to have choices, I want women to choose whether they want that life for themselves or whether they are fuelled by guilt, what others think of them, fear of letting the balls fall or fear of failure. I think women have come so far from the 1950s housewife and I’m so grateful for that but I also feel that there is so much pressure on women today to live up to everyone elses expectations.

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Its about having Choices!

Sometimes letting the ball fall is not the absolute worse thing that can happen to you… it could even  save your life. Let me tell you the story of my incredible friend – Miss Wonder Woman, she would never stop. She had an incredible career which would often mean lots of overtime, she was delving into the property market out of personal interest which meant she was constantly educating herself reading, attending conferences etc.  At the same time she fell in love with a wonderful man which led to wedding planning (God knows that can be a full time job in itself!). She was also single handedly organising a charity dinner in honour of her late mother! And on top of all that this amazing woman bought her first investment property and was spending almost every waking hour renovating. She was doing it all! I was in awe of her I wanted to have her energy and get up and go! But her life came to a grinding halt when at just 32 she suffered a stroke.

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Sometimes letting the balls drop can be the best thing to happen to you…

I was shocked! I remember questioning her saying but your only 32 years old. People don’t have strokes at 32 years old especially incredibly healthy, fit 32 year olds. But I’ve come to realise they do for a number of different reasons. People younger and younger are suffering terrible health problems because they simply don’t stop! They live and breathe stress. My bestie is ok she has suffered some brain damage but miraculously she is still the incredible woman I’ve come to know and love. She has a long road to recovery but she is making progress in leaps and bounds!

We have had so many conversations about her future and what next as we are both so goal orientated. But for now she needs to stop and listen to her body. She hasn’t listened to her body in a long time and has forgotten what it feels like to hear it! In retrospect she says her body was trying to tell her to slow down but she never heard it nor did she listen to it. Just one more conference, one more day renovating, one more hour of wedding planning…

The sad reality of the world we live in today means that we never get to switch off, People can call us 24 hours a day, text messages, emails , phones, Facebook etc etc. We are constantly on the go and trying to do it all. But our bodies are not designed that way, we are not designed to live in “fight or flight mode” to get our shit done. We should not be living off adrenaline and caffeine.

Our bodies, our lives and our children are a gift. Each of us are beautiful, intelligent, unique individuals who matter to so many people, especially our children. There is no one the world like you and there never will be! You are so incredibly special and you are here on this earth to serve your purpose! if you don’t stop you may not be around to watch your children grow up or watch your babies have their own babies. The basket of washing can wait till you have put your feet up and had a coffee. For those mums that have and do it all perhaps you need to question whether having it all is really what you want or are you being guilted in feeling like its what you really want? Could sacrificing your lifestyle mean that you feel less pressure and stress? You only have one life so please enjoy it, love it and be grateful for it! I thought having it all would bring with it happiness but it made me even more miserable. I felt like I was a mouse on a spinning wheel trying desperately not to fall off…

Its time each of us are honest with ourselves and looked internally for our value and worth instead of placing our value on how much we accomplish each day. Slow down and smell the sunflowers, put your feet up and relax without your phone or tablet and just sit. Learn to take the time to just be at peace with yourself as the incredible miracle that you are!

And as always if  you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. Take the time this week to love and self care because you are a wonderful mother and you totally deserve it! You only get one chance at life so lets make it the best life ever!

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Another Christmas without her by my side…

Christmas is by far my favourite time of the year even though I’m running around like a headless chicken in the lead up to it! I love the magic and the spirit of Christmas! I love the excitement the kids generate in the countdown to Santa coming! I love the summer nights, the late night swims and of course all the Christmas food! Its when we make incredible memories together and a time when we show each other how much we love and care for one another.

But behind all of the happiness I find myself encapsulated in moments of sadness and pain. It marks another year of memories and life moments that she’s missed out on. Memories that she’s not apart of and memories my kids will never have of her and that makes me really upset. I know I can’t change it and I can’t bring her back despite me trying but its still painful. l remember thinking after she died when my whole body spiralled into grief; when will the pain stop? They say it gets easier with time but I don’t think it does I think we just learn to cope with it.

I never imagined how grief stricken I would be after losing my mum especially at Christmas. She would make the biggest deal out of Christmas she would cook for days in the lead up, decorate the house immaculately and buy us the most incredible Christmas presents. We would have all of her sisters around with all the cousins and we would spend the day eating, laughing and in the pool! I was telling the my kids the other day how she would sugar coat the plums and apricots, she would make Christmas cookies and pecan pies. We would have seafood, turkey and ham and roast vegetables and half a dozen salads. She loved making sure everyone was fed, happy and merry.

She did it because as a child she never had Christmas not for any other reason than her parents didn’t care. She came from a very abusive and broken home where they were severely neglected so when she had kids she wanted it to be the absolute opposite! She got to experience the magic and excitement of Christmas through her kids and she just loved it!

Christmas has never been the same without her and gets me teary to think she doesn’t get to experience the magic of it all over again through her Grandbabies. I often think if she just held off for a couple of years maybe her Grandkids would have saved her and she wouldn’t have committed suicide. I know I shouldn’t think like that buts its hard not to. She would have loved being a Grandmother she absolutely loved little kids and they adored her she had such a way with them. She was so much fun and never took herself too seriously.

I have so many friends who are in the same boat this Christmas having seeing this holiday season without their parent by their side. And the sad thing is we aren’t old we shouldn’t be losing our parents so young but maybe its because they were destined for great things in the spirit world! We laugh about being part of the one dead parent society; guess you have to find something to laugh about hey.

Even though its sad that she’s not going to be here this holiday season I want to start a special tradition with the kids now that their older to remember her on Christmas day. Acknowledge her and send her love but then dispel my sadness and just try to have the best day ever! Because thats what she would of wanted for me, she would want me to just be happy surrounded by this incredible family that I have created. Making similar memories that I know she probably cherished in her final days here on earth. The only thing you can take with you when you pass away is the love you shared with each and every person that you shared this life journey with. Love never dies, not even in death. The love I have for my mother carries on in me and carries on in the love that I have for my own children.

So on Christmas day remember your mum or your dad or Grandparent or anyone that you have lost, send them love and enjoy a precious memory you had with one another then get out there rip the Christmas paper from your presents and look around at the little faces you share love with, and be grateful for the wonderful memories you are sharing with your babies.

And on a little side note please take some photos of you with your children. I tried desperately to hunt down a photo of my mother and myself on Christmas Day and I couldn’t find one. You would of thought sharing 25 Christmases together we would have at least one but I couldn’t even find one even on her own. Even if you have no make up on, or are still in your pjs from being woken up at the crack of dawn with bed hair let your partner or friends take a photo with you and the kids together. Your kids will look back on those pictures one day when they show their kids or grandkids what their mother looked like and shared with them on Christmas Day.

This has been an incredibly challenging year for me as a mother but it has been so wonderful to share it all with you. So Merry Christmas Super Mamas and I hope you all take some time for you to relax these holidays! I look forward to another incredible year next year with lots of exciting things happening so stay tuned!

Love Jess

Xx

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What ABOUT Me! How to get back some ME time over the Holidays!

This week I was going to talk about dreaming after I wrote about Self Belief and Self Talk last week but instead I decided this week I wanted to write about Why Women struggle with Self Care! Its something I think a lot of us are struggling with particularly coming into the Holiday season which really isn’t a holiday for us mothers at all really is it? Its when we make mad dashes to the shops for batteries for Christmas presents and forgotten ingredients. A time for wrapping hundreds of presents (Why can’t Santa wrap his own presents for goodness sake), creating interesting teachers gifts and school holidays when the kids are harassing me every five minutes for food or saying they’re bored.

I am the first person to put my hand in the air and say I struggle with finding the time to look after me with 5 kids to feed, bathe, run around after and prevent from killing each other!!! There are some days where I honestly have to question why I had kids they drive me absolutely batty!!! And I am so exhausted to the point where I need a new word for exhaustion! My youngest is literally breastfeeding 4-8 times a night and thats between the hours of 10pm and 5am when she wakes me up by sitting on my face or ripping my hair out. Who needs that much boob, honestly! Then I’ve got Polly pee a pants who is still wetting the bed! I used to believe that the key forward in toilet training is to not go backwards, so basically just ride it out letting him wet the bed and just keep washing the sheets in an effort not to go backwards and not put him back into nappies. My views have changed! Last night I had enough I ran to the shops for some spider man pull ups so that I didn’t have to wash his sheets for the 30th night in a row… and sadly I’m not exaggerating!

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Do you feel Stressed these Holidays?
I was also meant to do the mum thing last night and bake some gingerbread men for my sons end of year Christmas party. I was going to stay up late last night after I got home at 8:30 and bake gingerbread cookies. This was all after the shit day I had being stranded on the side of the road because my car broke! Something something about the thing that makes the thing turn that makes the wheel turn broke and needs replacing. Kinda sucks because having 5 kids means you can’t fit into an average car so I’m having to do double trips. So after all that I say to my husband I really don’t want to bake all these cookies and he says to me “Why don’t you just buy something from the shops?” Its not that it didn’t cross my mind its just that I wanted to be that mum who made cookies for her kid for his party.

Then it hit me… why does it really matter. Why am I putting so much pressure on myself and in turn the kids to try and be the “Perfect” mum. No matter what I do I’m never going to please them 100% and in the meantime I’m burning myself out here. I often find myself sacrificing me time for everyone else just to get the last lot of the washing done, or I’ll do something for myself later when the kids are in bed which inevitably never happens because I either fall asleep somewhere or one of kids decides they want to fight me on going to sleep. I love each of my kids dearly but I need to let some things go and I need to tell them No. And guilt well you I think we all need to learn how to just kick that to the kerb, we do not need to feel any sort of guilt for saying No. Lets give ourselves the last piece of fruit for a change, be kinder to ourselves! I know when we have kids we are meant to turn into a martyr or something but things have changed and there is so much pressure on mums today! We are meant to do and have it all but at what cost… our sanity?

The baskets of washing piling up can wait till I have more energy, We can get take away to give ourselves a night off from cooking or ask a friend if she can do a double batch and you will return the favour next week. We need to work together to help take some of the load off ourselves and give ourselves some much needed time back. Here is a list of some ways I’ve found some more time for me:

  • Ask the kids to help you more and YES they can do it you just might have to show them a couple of times. The research actually shows its good for them!
  • Leave the house a mess for the day – we all know its just going to be messy again tomorrow
  • If you can afford it get a cleaner to come in once a week or a fortnight to clean. It has honestly been the best money I’ve spent. She comes in and just does the floors and bathrooms once a week. Its also helped our marriage because I’m not whinging that I do EVERYTHING… well occasionally I might still do it –  hahaha!
  • Get takeaway or another way to save time which I’ve been experimenting with is to make a double batch of whatever your cooking 2 times a week and then freeze the other half. Then you have a meal done next week.
  • Let the kids just watch TV. I don’t like my kids watching too much Tv but there have been moments where they are fighting and screaming at each other that I’ve just had enough. So I let them put on a movie just for some silence!
  • If they miss one week of their extra curricular activity is it really going to impact their future that badly? I’m all for kids doing activities outside of school but a couple of weeks ago we all had a full on week so instead of going to athletics we all snuggled up on the couch with some unhealthy snacks and enjoyed a Christmas movie together. They loved it and surprisingly it wasn’t the end of the world lol.
  • Ask your partner or a friend to take the kids out for the afternoon or the day if they can. And no this doesn’t mean you can spend the day catching up on domestic duties!

You are just as important as your kids and you need to look after yourself this holiday season! I know you probably have a to do list as long as Santa’s nice list but its so important! It will make you happier, healthier and you will feel so much more able to cope with the next week, especially now that the kids are going into school holidays YIKES! If it makes it easier write everything down that needs to be done then do a couple of things everyday so its not too overwhelming coming up to Christmas Day! I did all my wrapping at the beginning of November while the kids were all asleep over two nights and I may or may not have had a sneaky wine to get me through. I literally had over 55 presents to wrap so I’m so glad I don’t still have that to do!

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I know the holidays are such a busy time and it really is all about the kids and making memories with them, but please remember YOU and how important it is to look after you too! If you have any other great tips for creating more self care time leave a comment below. And as always if you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. Take the time this week to love and self care because you are a wonderful mother and you totally deserve it! You only get one chance at life so lets make it the best life ever!

 

Self Talk and Self Belief

Self Talk and Self Belief is probably the number one thing women of all ages struggle with but more so us mothers whose bodies have changed so drastically after childbirth! I know after my kids I hated my body, I hated my breasts, I hated my caesarean scar and most of all I hated my stretch marks. It wasn’t that I was saying these things to myself out loud but I was saying these things to my inner self everytime I looked into the mirror. It certainly didn’t help that theres a full length mirror right in front of my shower! It can be very easy to lose our true selves in motherhood, for some of us, particularly stay at home mums the title mum seems to take over our whole lives. You can develop a tendency to always talk about your children and hide your real self behind them.

I think as women we have a responsibility to our daughters to change how negative and hard on ourselves we can be. It certainly doesn’t help that there is a myriad of media sources that infiltrate our daily lives of these unrealistic women who have babies and the next day they’re back to their pre baby weight putting on a size 6 pair of jeans! We need to learn to be kinder to ourselves, love ourselves and give ourselves a break!

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I want my daughter to be kind to herself and love who and what she is!

I want you to really look at your own life and your own happiness. Your children will be happy if your happy. Have you ever noticed that when your in a bad mood it seems to permeate out to the whole family. There are many ways to regain your individuality as a woman back and I honestly think it begins with loving yourself after giving birth. Loving your body, your soul and discovering who the new you is. It also means getting real with yourself and questioning what stories or negativity you are giving your inner self. A lot of changes not only happen outwardly when you conceive a baby but there are a lot of changes happening internally too.

How Do You Love Yourself? 

Love for one self is multi faceted. It begins with firstly loving whats on the inside then moving outward to our outward appearance. Often we can’t really love our outward appearance until we fall in love with the person on the inside, your real essence. And when I talk about your essence I mean the you you were as a small child, the you as a teenager, the you as an adult. Even though you grew up your still the very same person you were as a small child only your knowledge and maturity has somewhat changed not to mention your appearance. Learning to fall deeply in love with myself was probably one of the hardest things I have done and continue to do. I have always been one to punish myself and I’m extremely hard on myself and like most women I really struggle with my outward appearance particularly after having kids.

To begin to love ourselves internally we need to speak kindly to our inner voice. The way my inner voice used to speak to myself was utterly disgusting and I wasn’t showing myself any love. I was so hard on myself to the point where one day I thought to myself I wouldn’t even talk to my worst enemy like this so why am I talking to myself like this? It just makes me feel even more like shit, now wonder the old girl was starting to feel depressed and unhappy all the time! Have you heard of that experiment where they had two bottles of water and one bottle they spoke to so negatively and showed it so much anger and hatred. The other bottle of water they told it everyday they loved it and they cherished it and said positive things to it everyday. After 30 or so days the bottle that was hated and shown anger was extremely dirty and foul. The bottle that was loved was clear and beautiful. So if we are made up of mostly water you can see the harm we are doing by speaking to our inner self so negatively. So do you speak to your inner self with love, patience and adoration? Or do you talk to yourself like shit and bully yourself?

So now you can see how much damage your actually doing its important to understand that YOU ARE WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE so if you think your fat and ugly then thats what you are. If you think your incredible and beautiful and amazing then thinking that makes it so! Doesn’t that just blow your mind and this is nothing new this secret was published in1959 in the amazing book The Magic of Thinking Big! The way you talk to yourself and the beliefs you have about yourself will determine how you feel and think about yourself. Your mind is an extremely powerful tool you can choose to use it for good or you can choose to use it for bad, the choice is yours. If your constantly saying to yourself I’m so fat, I look horrible then you will always find ways to make that so whether it be eating fast food all the time or punishing yourself by not buying yourself nice clothes to make you feel good. Or not taking time for yourself to do the things you love that make you feel good!

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I think quite often we as women believe it comes across as conceited and selfish to really love ourselves or want to care more for ourselves. When did we all become martyrs and put everyone else’s needs before our own? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has lost a bit of themselves along this journey called motherhood.

How I began my Self Love Journey

I began my self love journey with reading every Louise Hay book I could devour. I loved how simple she made it all. I started with affirmations and the most simplest was “I love myself”. That was so hard for me to say! So everyday in the car on the way to pick up the kids I would play her affirmations through you tube and repeat, repeat, repeat. I probably looked like a complete idiot but it changed my life! As a result I found myself starting to be kinder to myself and giving myself what my body needed. It began with starting to do regular exercise then I began consuming food that nourished my body rather than emotional eating or eating out of boredom. Once I started to feel love for myself on the inside I then began to start loving my physical body – muffin top and all! I still struggle with food but I’m getting there slowly but surely and I’m not perfect but as long as I keep trying thats what matters.

Soon my self talk and love for myself started to snow ball. Before I knew it I was investing in my appearance by actually buying myself clothes that fit me and I even bought some nice bras and went and got a pedicure! I also started to do things for me again, things that I loved to do like painting and writing! I took time for myself away from the kids to regain my individuality as a woman. I’m not only a mother I’m also a woman who has dreams and goals and a purpose! So when I started to really love myself on the inside it began to show on the outside which meant I started to feel a genuine sense of happiness. And what do they say! Happy Wife, Happy Life!

Self Care and love for yourself is a journey and we all have our own journey we need to take but I just want you to know how important it is! Loving oneself is sometimes difficult work but I will honestly tell you it will change your life! When you love someone you want to take care of them and for so many of us mums out there we don’t really love who we have become after we have had our babies. We neglect ourselves because we are too damn busy looking after everyone else that we get caught in this vicious cycle which in turn leads to us not loving ourselves and then not being pro active about our self care. This can lead to us becoming overweight, unhealthy and lets face it miserable. When I realized this I began to burst into tears… I took a stroll down memory lane when I didn’t have kids I did what made me happy, I pursued a career I dreamt about, I had men asking me out and OMG my body was pretty sexy! Not a wobbly bit in sight and perky boobs ohhh how I miss my boobs.

So What Do You Need to Do…

I want you to stop bullying your self and stop those negative beliefs. You are what you think you are and you are an incredible mother and woman who is meant to be on this earth at this exact moment. You are special, you are beautiful and you have a purpose. You are everything to those little humans whose worlds are entirely wrapped up in you so you need to look after yourself first so that you don’t burn yourself out and you can be there for your children. So start today by telling yourself how beautiful you look today and how much you love yourself!

And as always if you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. Take the time this week to love and self care because you are a wonderful mother and you totally deserve it! You only get one chance at life so lets make it the best life ever!

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Connectedness – Do you feel connected?

“I define connectedness as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” – Dr Brene Brown

Feeling connected to other people and our community is another imperative piece of the self care puzzle. Connectedness is knowing that you have meaningful links and connections with people in the world around you and within your own self. It is so important for our sanity as mothers and for our very existence that we all feel like we belong in one way or another. I think when we find ourselves straying too far from connecting with others and losing our connection with our communities many of us risk dancing with depression.

In my experience as a mother connectedness is particularly hard because we tend to stay at home the majority of the time with the kids. And I know when I’ve been on maternity leave or a stay at home mum I feel even less connected with my community and the people I love. Our lives in this day and age get so busy that we find it hard to find the time to catch up with friends and family and we can often find ourselves feeling isolated. I have never felt more alone in my life than when I had my first child. Of course I was never actually alone because my child was always with me but internally I felt so incredibly alone! I was one of the first out of my friends to have children so they weren’t interested in play dates and I was petrified of joining any mummy groups because I was so fearful of being judged as a single mother. So I thought I would be better off just braving it on my own. But isolating ourselves can be so detrimental to not only our mental health but also our physical health as well.

What I realised was that as human beings we are innately designed to be social, historically we have always lived in tribes, family clans and communities. However the way we live today leaves so many of us isolated not only from our communities and our neighbours but also our friends and family. We are taught from such a young age that we need to fend for ourselves and to learn to stand on our own two feet. For some reason many of us wrongly believe that if we ask for help from someone we have failed or we simply aren’t coping with our lives. We even encourage our children not to ask for too much help because you can’t always count on people to be there for you. But asking for help is completely the opposite of what most of us think it is! It is not a sign on weakness it is a gesture of strength because we are not meant to handle everything on our own!

I was so fortunate to witness the beauty and strength of connectedness when I traveled to Tanzania in Africa in 2008 to volunteer with kids for 3 months. It was an incredible experience and a real eye opener but what resonated most was this sense of community and this emphasis on relationships with other people. Generally speaking the people I met held very little regard for possessions and things but what they valued the most was their families, their friends and their community. I remember one morning I was running late to my placement and so I was walking briskly to make up for lost time when this gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and started chatting to me. I found this so incredibly uncomfortable and challenging. He was asking me about my family and where I came from and what I was doing there, I told him I really couldn’t chat because I was running so late! . He said to me “Mzungu pole pole, Hakuna Matata”! Which translated simply means white person slowly slowly, theres no problem.

He was saying that it didn’t matter if I was late we were on Africa time. I asked him what he meant and he began to explain to me that if you see a friend in the street you should stop and you should see how your friend is. You should ask how their family is and how their cousins cousins sister is going! You should talk to your friend about what is happening in their life. You should never worry about the time because your friend is more important than time. There it was I was putting time before people and this notion of social connectedness! I know that many Tanzanians who have come to Australia have really struggled with this sense of connectedness because people just don’t stop for a chat on the street they are too busy rushing to their next appointment!

I was also especially lucky enough to spend a bit of time out in the Maasai village where it was customary for men to have multiple wives and 40-50 children! Could you imagine! They often lived in their own Boma’s which are mud huts surrounded by acacia thorn fences but there would be many Boma’s in close proximity to one another. They believed that it was not just the mother and fathers role to raise the children but that it took an entire village to raise the kids. Each and every person within the tribe had a special role to play in helping shape those children’s lives.  They all supported the children with their sense of self worth and belonging – networks of adults caring for each others children.

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The Kids outside the Boma

When I asked the women how they felt about being one of 5 wives they simply said it made life easier for them because they all helped one another. Yes they helped one another – they weren’t failing at life because they helped each other! In any given day one wife would be doing the cooking, one wife would be watching the children, one wife would be doing the cleaning, one would be collecting fire wood and water and so forth. Watching these women help each and interacting with one another I was so surprised at how cohesive everything was. And they even managed to have a good old chat and a laugh! And despite the language barrier I could tell there was some good old fashioned bitching about their husband!

Now I’m not advocating you go out and find your husband a few more wives though, I have wondered how much easier my life would be if there was 5 of me! What I am saying is that as a woman and a mother you need to see how important getting out of the house and socialising is, not just for you but for your children too. How much better do we feel as women when you have had a good chat with friends over coffee and you feel connected to the world again! Being connected with other people has such incredible physical health benefits and I cannot stress enough how great it is for your mental health too! I know when I’m getting really down and I feel like my depression is starting to resurface I need to take the time to get back into the world!

So call up the gals and schedule in a coffee date or a weekend away! And if you can’t connect with friends or family then you could look at getting involved in a community organisation or doing some volunteer work to feel socially connected that way. And if you can’t find an organisation that you like then why not start your own!

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Self care is not just about taking a hot bath once in a while or getting the husband to watch the kids for a couple of hours to give you a break. Self Care is about YOU consciously taking the time to focus on yourself and give yourself some love back! Its about continually learning how to improve your life so that you can be happy, healthy and the best version of YOU you can be not just for yourself but your children too!

And as always if  you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. Take the time this week to love and self care because you are a wonderful mother and you totally deserve it! You only get one chance at life so lets make it the best life ever!

And Don’t forget I’ve started Thursday Coffee Catch Ups on my Facebook Group so join me at 9:30 for virtual coffee and a chat! Hope to see you all there!

Do Mothers Really Need to Practice Relaxation and Meditation?

Its true that being a mother is all encompassing and time consuming. Us mothers often find ourselves multi tasking and doing what feels like 50 things at once in order to cram everything we need to get done in any given day. There are days where I’m cooking dinner, breastfeeding at the same time all the while helping one or two children with their homework and answering a million unimportant questions from another! Life is busy so when someone said to me Jess you really need to take some time for you and incorporate meditation into your day I was like yeah… like when?

Why Do We Need to Meditate?

Instead of dismissing the idea entirely I decided to look deeper into some of the benefits of meditation and relaxation to ascertain whether it was actually worth trying to cram it into my already busy days and interestingly this is what I found! As a human being we are all wired for survival this stems back to our cave men days when we were probably hunted instead of being the hunter. This is where the nervous system comes into play it basically sends signals to indicate that life is in danger and if the body feels as though it is then it responds accordingly. Obviously our daily life has changed significantly since our cave women days but some aspects of our modern day lives can stimilate this same response particularly stress. Stress and more so daily stress can become very emotionally and physically draining and as a result our bodies natural response to stress is to produce chemicals. If these chemicals are not disbursed then they can have dire consequence and may contribute towards heart problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, headaches and migraines, back problems, weight loss or weight gain, wrinkles and skin problems, depression, nervous breakdowns and even cancer!¹

Without getting to scientific here basically everything in our internal and external environments influences our autonomic nervous systems (ANS). This means that the food we consume, the exercise we do or choose not to do and the many thoughts we have throughout the day all have an impact on our ANS. Why is this important because our ANS is the driving force behind our bodies and we unconsciously control it. It regulates our respiration and heart rates, it controls our temperature and our immune and hormonal systems all without us having to think about it. WOW huh! The ANS is broken down into 3 parts and one of those is the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is the “our life is in danger signal” or our “fight or flight” response, then theres the raw enteric nervous system (ENS) and the opposite to the SNS is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS has the ability to increase our heart and respiratory rates and can release stress hormones and move blood away from the digestive tract muscle. It is also responsible for increasing blood supply to muscles so that we have the ability to fight or flight!

If we are constantly surrounded by stress in our lives what do you think our SNS is doing? Its basically keeping us in that fight or flight mode! And what happens when we are in this mode? Our body holds onto our fat stores thinking we are going to starve, blood is moved away from the digestive tract and our heart and respiratory rates are higher!!! I know right, its all making sense now! My first thought was so thats the real reason as to why I may be overweight!!! Realistically its probably not the only reason, that may have something to do with what I put in my mouth, but I honestly think its an attributing factor! So if we change some of the signals we send to our body so that our body feels safe it therefore allows efficient fat utilisation, increases blood supply to the digestive tract and keeps our respiratory and heart at steady rates.

It is this long term exposure to stress that can take a hold of our bodies and upset the normal balance and rhythm of our systems. Our goal is to have our body move easily between the SNS activation to PNS activation so that we are not constantly feeling like we are on edge all the time.

So given that the body deals with stress and anxiety in this way its little wonder we feel so many symptoms of stress. These can include:

  • heart palpitations
  • headaches
  • cold hands and feet
  • teeth grinding
  • indigestion
  • rapid breathing
  • rapid weight loss or gain
  • skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema
  • biting nails
  • fidgeting
  • clenching fists
  • eating too much or not enough
  • increased alcohol intake
  • talking too fast
  • depression
  • listelessness
  • defensivness
  • anger and bitterness
  • mood swings
  • irrationality
  • worrying
  • poor concentration
  • confusion
  • poor memory

Poor stress management can not only damage our bodies but it can also make us feel exhausted and tired and lead to premature ageing. To fight these symptoms of stress we need to combat it by finding time to meditate and relax. So now you can understand why it is so important particularly for us Super Mamas to find the time we need for ourselves to mediate daily and find ways to relax our bodies. Because if we don’t we are opening ourselves up to a range of health problems and we don’t want to look old, tired and overweight do we? If you want to understand more Dr Libby Weaver is an expert in the subject and has a number of different books on the subject specifically for women these include, Women’s Wellness Wisdom, Exhausted to Energized and Accidentally Overweight. 

So How Do I Meditate?

I thought meditation meant I had to sit on the floor cross legged with my hands in the prayer position muttering some sort of mmmmmm sound. Of course you can do this if you feel comfortable but for me I need to feel comfortable and sitting on the floor just isn’t that comfy for me! I find sitting in my happy place chair and just focusing on my breathing works wonders for me. I know I’ve spoken about creating a happy place area in your home before but its really important and it can be a great place to meditate and relax.

Meditation can be whatever you want it to be but simply its about finding a quiet space even if its just for 5 minutes a day and calming the mind down. I try to do this as soon as I wake up, I always aim for 20 minutes but even if I get 5 minutes before the baby wakes up I feel so much better for it. Do it at a time during the day that works for you, they do say morning is better but you could do it anytime. Even if as soon as you wake up instead of looking at your phone you just lay in bed for 5 minutes longer focusing on deep breathing its much better than nothing.  I have increased energy and I feel better able to deal with the day knowing I have given myself some time and I have activated my parasympathetic nervous system!

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There are lots of resources on the web which explain a number of different breathing techniques and their benefits I liked Dr Libby Weavers explanation on how to breath diaphragmatically which can be found in her book Womens Wellness Wisdom (2016) at p211. She advocates that becoming breath aware creates more energy and impacts your ability to use body fat as fuel via the nervous system. Not sure about you but I could certainly do with using up some body fat by way of breathing!

Relaxation 

Its also just as important for us to find ways to relax. Some ways to help you relax include:

  • Taking a warm bubble bath ALONE, my kids always want in on this one!
  • Going for a walk
  • Reading a good book
  • Watching a movie
  • Calling a friend to have a good laugh – I had the biggest laugh in years this week after my sister encouraged me to buy a few items including swimwear from Ebay! Disaster but so worth the belly laugh!
  • Go for a walk in nature either at the beach or in the bush
  • Write in a journal
  • Go for a nice nutritious meal
  • Just get out of the house without the kids! Even just going anywhere on your own can be quite relaxing!

If we priorities ourselves for just half an hour or so a day to meditate and find ways during the week to relax our bodies we activate the PNS which plays a major role in counteracting the SNS and means our bodies are closer to achieving a normal balance and rhythm. Wouldn’t it be great to have our bodies in perfect balance which would increase our energy levels, make us feel happier which would mean we are better equiped to be the best parent we can possibly be! I think its also worth noting here that nourishing our bodies with great food and doing regular exercise will also help in our endeavours to perfectly balance the body too.

So try meditating everyday for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference in your life it certainly changed mine – I feel so much better for it! And don’t forget to pen in some time to relax this week your body needs it even if its just a few minutes here and there. I will be doing lots of relaxing this weekendI’m off for a girls night away which I am so excited about we planned it months ago. It will be the first night away from my daughter who’s now 10 months old eekkkk! I’m so apprehensive because she’s still breastfed but I need this for myself! I cannot wait to have at least 6 hours straight sleep and maybe a sneaky glass of wine! I will post some pictures on my Facebook so stay tuned!

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Love Her!

And as always if you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. I hope to empower each and every one of you to take the time to love and self care each and every day because you, yes you, are so worth it! You only get one chance at life lets make it the best life ever!

¹Morrison, K. & Whelligan, F. (2009). Like Chocolate for Women. 1st ed. Mooloolaba: Creative Wellbeing International.

Lets Declutter

So that we can better self care I’ve decided over the coming weeks I want to delve into self care and loving the self a bit deeper. I think its important for all of us to understand how important it is and to understand the need to bring a sense of peace and a bit of ourselves back to life! Women who neglect their needs and lose sight of their own dreams and purpose in life can become very unhappy, become resentful and can cascade into depression. And as some of you may know my own mother committed suicide so its something I’m always conscious about in my own self and something I’m passionate about preventing in other women, particularly mothers. I do not want any child young or old to go through what I have gone through so if I can just help one mum out there live the best life that they can for their kids but more importantly for themselves, then job done!!!!

So these are the topics up for discussion over the next few weeks:

  1. Decluttering our lives on a physical and an emotional level
  2. How important is Relaxation and Meditation?
  3. Connectedness
  4. Self Talk and Self Belief
  5. Dreaming; and
  6. Gratitude

Physical Decluttering

Lets get started with decluttering our lives! Decluttering our lives is really about our emotional wellbeing. I remember this woman I used to work with explain to me why she believed she had cancer. She expressed to me that she felt she had attracted the disease because she had bottled up feelings of resentment, anger and frustration surrounding the death of her mother. This literally scared the shit out of me as I had not long lost my mother and it made me really question what I was bottling up inside and for what purpose? I’m not saying this to scare you or preach that its the truth because there are no definitive studies that I’ve found but it did get me thinking…

Women are very emotional creatures and wonderfully so but it does mean we tend to hold onto unnecessary things even things done to us decades ago! I know I do! So I began this journey of decluttering my life. The advice I was reading tended to argue that I needed to begin with the physical decluttering then move into emotionally decluttering. They argued that you begin your emotional decluttering journey by physically decluttering your life, your home, your office if you have one and your bedroom.

Some of you would know from following me on Facebook, October has been our families pay it forward month. So this month we killed two birds with one stone as the saying goes and each of us went through all our personal belongings to try and pay some things forward but also to declutter out lives. We put things into piles of what we would like to keep, what we would like to sell and what we would like to give to charity. Our general rule is if we haven’t worn it or used it in the last 12 months then its probably time to give it to someone else. Granted we do keep all our very special keepsakes which I think are important for our familial roots.

We literally gave away 9 huge garbage bags full of clothes and toys!!! Who knew we had that much stuff! The house feels so much better without it all and often when you rid the old you open yourself up for new things and new opportunities to present themselves. If you find it particularly hard to get rid of things place the stuff you are thinking about giving away in bags and pop them in your garage. If you don’ find yourself scourging around for them in the next month you really need to question whether you really need them in your life?

Getting Organised

Physically decluttering also means getting yourself organised. Schedule a time for your pap smear if your due for it, call the doctor to make that appointment for yourself you have been putting off. Get systems in place to make your life as a mum flow smoother. For me its sitting down for an hour or so after the kids have gone to bed on a Sunday night and doing meal planning for the week. I sit on the computer, I have one tab open to find dinner recipes and the other tab open for Coles online shopping so I can punch the ingredients I need straight into the search. Then I do parcel pick up Monday morning after bootcamp. This way I do not have to brave the shops with 5 kids, a pram and a shopping trolley while their asking me for absolutely everything! Yes I sometimes say yes because I don’t have the energy or the patience to put up a fight!!! I also get to control my budget that week because I’m not drawn to the specials! And I can check my cupboards to see what I have instead of buying the same thing I literally have 10 of!

You may also like to take this time to completely reorganise your home! In doing so you should create yourself a happy place! My happy place is a reading chair in the corner of my room overlooking the water with a small table covered in my favourite books for the month. I don’t get to read them all but at least they’re sitting there! Your happy place could be anywhere in your house but make it a place you feel comfortable and safe in. Try and make it as relaxing as possible and have your favourite things close by.

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Emotional Decluttering

So once you have mastered the physical its time to move on the emotional… which can sometimes be a little more daunting. I began by simply writing everything down, emotional things from my past that for some reason I was holding onto and just didn’t serve me anymore. You could use a journal or just a piece of paper to write them on but remember you need to let it go. There are lots of resources and books on how best to do this but I usually follow this procedure every few months. I begin with writing all the hurts, the things that made me really angry and frustrated onto a piece of paper. Then I go through each of them and I work on really forgiving that person that said those things. I think of myself standing in front of them and forgiving them for what they did to me. I strongly believe the old saying is true in that holding onto things is like you drinking the poison but expecting them to die. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person but everything to do with you.

Most importantly in this process, I want you to forgive yourself! Us mummies always have mummy guilt in one form or another and most of the time its unwarranted! So forgive yourself you were doing the best job you could at the time given the circumstances you were in and the resources you had available. Once you feel you have forgiven then its time to destroy the piece of paper that you have everything written on. Tear it up, burn it, rip it – do whatever you feel you need to do and just let it go! You will feel so much better because of it and if there’s still some stuff there that isn’t shifting repeat the process. Some things are more ingrained than others and need a bit more work.

Once you declutter your life you can begin to live the life you want and deserve! Try to focus on things that matter to you and serve your purpose in life, because each and everyone of us are on this earth to serve our purpose!

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So this week take the time you need for yourself to try to de clutter your life both physically and emotionally – you will feel amazing for it! It will also allow you to feel more relaxed and less stressed opening up more time for you to self care and love yourself. Be sure to check in next week where we will discuss how important relaxation and meditation for us as mummies.

If you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. I hope to empower each and every one of you to take the time to love and self care each and every day because you, yes you, are so worth it. You only get one chance at life lets make it the best life ever!

 

GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN!

Fun!

When was the last time you had fun? When I was a little girl life wan’t about meeting other peoples expectations, running around after people or doing things that I dreaded. Life’s purpose was simply about having fun!

My mum always encouraged us to play, especially outside. She wanted us to make our own fun and whenever we would say “I’m bored!” she would quickly respond with well then I have a heap of washing or cleaning that you can do. Obviously our boredom would dissipate and we would quickly find something to occupy ourselves. Sure we were blessed and had a heap of toys including an incredible cubby house in the backyard but we always seemed to have the most fun when we used our imagination and made it ourselves.

I remember one summer we made the most incredible cubby house on the vacant block across from our house. We cleared paths and lined them with rocks, we put plastic chairs in the trees and we even had a designated toilet area… We would use sticks to make structures and balconies and use water and mud as food. I remember one time we even made our own swimming pool! More of a mud bath really a deep hole behind my neighbours shed which we left the hose running overnight to fill. We would wade in the mud bath then run down the street to our pool to wash off. Was the neighbour annoyed we flooded the back of his shed and probably cost him a fortune in water – YES! Was my mum really p@#$ed off that her pool was a murky mess – You bet! But the point is that we had so much FUN!

One of my favourite things to do would be to jump on the swings. I would thrust my legs higher and higher into the air pretending to reach all the way to the clouds in the sky. I loved the feeling of the wind rushing past my face and my stomach going into my mouth all the while smiling from ear to ear. I always felt so much freedom and joy.

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So Why is it so Important as a Mum to have FUN?

Even though we grow up we all still have that inner child in each of us. One of my favourite authors Louise Hay says:

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is a little child with you who needs love and acceptance. If you’re a woman, no matter how self-reliant you are, you have a little girl who’s very tender and needs help; and if you are a man, no matter how macho you are, you still have a little boy inside of you who craves warmth and affection.”  (The Power is Within You, Louise Hay p. 303)

Its important to remember that despite the fact that we are parents ourselves we still have an inner child in us as well. My mum used to say to me – I’m still the same person I was at 5, 10, 15 and 30. I may know more as I get older but my essence is still the same. Each of us need to embrace that inner child. Think to yourself what did you love to do when you were a child? What brought you joy and happiness? When was the last time you actually did it? Far too often we stop ourselves from having fun because we worry about what other people might think or we simply tell ourselves we are too old to be doing things like that anymore.

All of us, I think particularly mothers need to stop overanalysing things and take the time to entertain our inner child and do the things that brought us joy and happiness as little girls. We need to just get out there and just have some FUN. Life is way too short not to take the time to enjoy it. And you know what just because your a parent doesn’t mean your kids can have all the fun, I bet they would love seeing you smile as you swing through the air with them!

So this week I did just that I self cared this week by embracing my inner child and just had some FUN! I went on the swings with the kids, yes I probably looked silly because my butt is way too big for the swings now. But I pushed those legs higher and higher into the air trying to reach the sky! I felt the wind rush past my ears and I felt the smile emerge from within grinning from ear to ear! And it was FUN!

Self care and love for ourselves is so multi-faceted and even if we can find just a little time to love and entertain our inner child again trust me you will feel so much better for it! Not only for you but for your kids too. Watching you love yourself and taking the time to care for yourself also shows them how important it is for them to take the time and energy to self care too.

So this week get out there and give your inner child permission to just have some FUN! Go to a theme park and ride on all the rides you loved as a kid, go to the beach and collect shells or go and play on the swings again!

If you would like to know more or connect with me then check out my website selfcareforsupermamas.wordpress.com or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. I hope to empower each and every one of you to take the time to love and self care each and every day because you, yes you, are so worth it. You only get one chance at life lets make it the best life ever!

 

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Do You Wear the Busy Mum Badge of Honour?

Welcome!

So here it is my very first blog post! I want to begin by saying thank you so much for coming over to check out my page! I am so passionate about empowering mothers to take the time to self care and love themselves! I understand how difficult it is to find the time to do it when your a mum but its probably the time in your life when you need it the most! Those little humans can be so full on and demanding and at times can literally suck the life out of us!

My dream is to inspire and empower mothers to love themselves enough to take the time to self care and do the things they love and enjoy in life. Far too often we put everyone else’s needs before our own; all our energy, all of our patience and we give them all of our love. I think for many of us we tend to lose our true selves in motherhood. We somehow get lost in between the 3am breastfeeds and the day they finish high school. I’m not sure about you but BC (before children) I was FUN, adventurous and perhaps a little irresponsible! And now I can be kinda boring and unadventurous… And I need to work on changing that; I need to make myself a priority because if we don’t self care and look after myself first how can I look after my children? And the same goes for you too!

Ok so I thought I was a pretty awesome mum if I gave them my all, 100% each and everyday. I was so fixated on trying to give them the best start in life with “play with me” classes, playdates for social interaction, creating sensory play at home all whilst trying to work and run a household. Suddenly I found myself in this tornado of commitments… I was busy. And I thought that being busy and devoting my entire existence to my children was what a great modern day mother did! Wasn’t the modern day mother supposed to do and have it all! I didn’t feel like I had it all; I felt like I was exhausted and just wanted sleep!

I would drop the kids off at day care or school and my conversations with other mums always developed into a repertoire of how busy we were! But then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks we were actually battling each other to see which mother won the “I’m so busy medal”! Hang on a second when did that become an actual competition anyone wants to win? It was as if you were a better mum if you were busier and you never had time for yourself. When did being busy all the time and having no time for ourselves become a badge of honour?

It really made me think whether I was being an great mum to my kids by being so busy all the time. When I was really honest with myself I wasn’t a better mum I was cranky a lot of the time, I was getting resentful, I was so tired and I was not really enjoying motherhood anymore!

I had to sit down and question why I was so miserable and I came to the realisation that I never did anything for me anymore, I never did anything fun, I was over weight from not taking the time to look after my health and as a result I really didn’t love myself anymore. When I spoke to other mums they felt the same way!

I didn’t want to be miserable anymore, I didn’t want to live my life on autopilot and not enjoy each and every moment. My mother committed suicide and I know that if I don’t learn to live a life of joy and passion and adventure then that could potentially be my fate too. There are too many people out there fighting to live and you only have one life so lets live it!

I’m still busy, I have 5 kids that I look after, but I have to take some time for myself if I don’t I become a dragon! And no one wants a fire breathing dragon for a mother! We all need to self care and love our selves more particularly us mothers who do it tough. So I challenge you to do something just for you this week, something fun, adventurous and loving! And don’t forget to leave tell me what you did in the comments below I can’t wait to hear it!

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If you would like to know more about me then check out my About section on my website or jump over to my Facebook page Self Care for Super Mama’s. I am a pretty open and honest person and would love any feedback or topics you would like me to talk about. I hope to empower each and every one of you to take the time to love and self care each and every day because you, yes you, are so worth it. You only get one chance at life lets make it the best life ever!