As you know, last year I became a mum for the first time and wow, it has been a whirlwind. I have learned so much in such a small space of time and every day there is a new challenge. It is so rewarding but at times definitely hard work.
One of the things I'm continually trying to build and learn is better self-care. Before having a baby I always had time for stretching, drinking water, breathing exercises and journalling. Now, I'm lucky if I can catch 5 minutes between feeding, nappy changes, endless washing, cleaning and tidying. And when I do, usually the only thing I manage is a piece of chocolate and a semi-warm half finished cup of tea from breakfast time!
I never realised how much I took my self-care time for granted in the past! Finding time as a (not quite so) new mum is hard. There often isn't time to contemplate, plan and schedule self-care and so I've been trying to come up with ways to fit things into my higgeldy-piggeldy, unpredictable and busy days. You don't need to be a parent to suffer from lack of self-care time so here are 5 one minute ideas to fit in to busy days for anyone who struggles to find the time:
1) Breathe your way to a positive start
You wake to the baby's cry at 5am...or maybe it's your alarm at 7am, or even the snooze at 7:10am! And your day is beginning before you've even had chance to open your eyes. I've always been a morning person but even for me the lack of sleep and early starts can be difficult when life is so packed. It's easy to wake up grumpy, irritated at being rustled up from rest when you're not ready. Take the first minute for yourself. There are very few things that can't wait just one minute. Take 3 deep, long breaths and set an intention for the day. You can say it aloud or just think it. Or maybe if thinking is not so easy first thing for you, keep something written by the side of your bed to look at. It could be something simple 'Today I will great everyone with a smile', or something more meaningful and personal to you. (If baby needs your attention right away try this exercise whilst feeding or nappy changing. You can tell your intention to your baby!)
2) Shampoo Massage
Squeeze this into your day by incorporating it into the time you're already using to have a shower. Whilst shampooing, place your thumbs at the base of your skull and make small circular motions. Then use your fingertips to gently work into your head. Close your eyes and take a moment to just enjoy the sensation of working into any tension there. Spend as long as you like or as little as you have time for.
3) Stretch in the kitchen
There's always some point during my day when I'm waiting for a kettle to boil, a vegetable to cook or an oven to heat up. It's easy to fill these minutes folding washing or tidying up but I have started to spend this little moment bending to stretch my back, roll my shoulders and stretching my chest. Whilst it's not the same as a full body stretch, every little helps and this brings a little energy back to a tired day.
4) The 'me first' cup of tea
I never put myself first anymore and I think that's just part of having a tiny human to care for all the time. Whenever she was napping I would crazily run round tidying up, making dinner, cleaning etc etc and usually by the time I had finished and sat down with a cup of tea she'd be awake again. Arrgh! So I made up the 'me first' cup of tea. Yes, the tidying still needs doing and the dinner still needs making. But now I always take just the first 5 minutes of any down time to actually relax with a cup of tea or glass of water before rushing back into whatever else needs doing. OK, I know this one is more than just 1 minute but honestly it has really made me feel so much better. Taking care of others requires a lot of love and energy and the 'me first' cup of tea is a small step which helps to replenish those energy supplies. So if you have 5 minutes or longer, then great! But even one minute sitting n sipping tea will make the difference.
5) Prepare for sleep
When you get into bed take your final minute before sleeping to prep your body for the best possible night. Take those 3 deep breaths again and this time, each time you breathe in, squeeze tight all of the muscles in your body. When you breathe out, let go. This helps your body to recognise where tension is holding and let it go so that you're going to sleep in as relaxed a state as possible. You may like to finish the day by reminding yourself of something that you're grateful for from the day, something you enjoyed or that made you laugh so that your drifting off to sleep with positive thoughts in your mind.