As the mother of two very longed for children aged 2 and 5, I now find myself at a new stage in my life. I lived through my own fertility struggle for 7 years, and this has always given me the drive to want to help others to have their longed-for family too. In my career as a Nutritional Therapist, my focus has been on helping other couples with their fertility and am delighted to say that many babies have come into the world with the support of my knowledge and guidance.
But now, with my youngest daughter at the age of 2 and soon to be starting pre-school, the promise of more space is on the horizon. And I have started asking myself the question of where am I in my life?
For those of you still struggling to have a baby, this may not be what you want to read, and I get that. I thank my lucky stars every day for having my girls (even when my youngest has a meltdown in Waitrose!), but I am entering a new chapter of my life, and I am excited about the path unfolding ahead.
I have just started a life coaching training, as I have become deeply curious about how women honour themselves and their dreams, at the same time as being mothers. I see many mums who are worn out, not prioritising their health, or speaking up in their lives. What I have come to realise is that, as a mother, prioritising my health is not about putting my needs in front of my children’s, but just simply saying that my needs matter as well.
I have spoken to many mums who feel that their health is at the bottom of the pile, as they have prioritised everything else in their lives before themselves. Many have developed chronic health conditions since having children and they have struggled with long term sleep issues, brain fog, stress, weight gain, poor energy, lack of confidence and feel that they have lost connection with themselves.
This is a far cry from how many of these same women looked after themselves in the bid to become pregnant. At this time in their lives, they ate well, made time for yoga and meditation, got to bed early and spent time going for walks in nature, all in a bid to reduce stress and improve their chances of having a baby. But somehow when baby is born, suddenly women often seem to stop looking after themselves and many find their health plummeting. This is exactly what happened to me after my second baby and I am still playing catch up now, despite the fact that my youngest is two years old.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Reprioritising your health may initially feel selfish and difficult, especially when you have to enlist others to help look after your children while you have time for yourself to go to a yoga class or meet with a friend for a child-free walk. But it is important to remember the adage of putting your own lifejacket on first before helping others. If you run yourself into the ground, will that serve anybody?
So, where do you start when it comes to reprioritising your health when you are short on time and energy?
Here are my top tips:
- Start small – the amount of time you have to yourself will grow as your children do. So, start small and be realistic about what you can fit in. But just because you can’t fit an hour of self-care into your day, doesn’t mean that you should do nothing. Even 5 minutes a day can make a difference.
- Be kind to yourself – treat yourself as you would a friend or sister and remember you are doing the best you can.
- Find time to be quiet and connect inwards – when I do my routine of yoga, meditation and journaling first thing in the morning, I am a more present mum for the rest of the day. I simply have more to give to my children and my day runs more smoothly. Start with finding 20-30 minutes before your children get up and see what a difference it makes.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – get perspective on the bigger picture of what you want from your health and your life. To start with don’t worry about the how, just start with what you want and keep your ideal vision in your mind’s eye.
- Ask for help – I know it can often feel easier to do everything yourself, but even Wonder Woman needs a bit of time off duty!
- Prioritise getting enough sleep – so often this can be such a neglected part of our health, especially when life is busy. Now research is showing that this is the most important pillar of good health. Getting to bed an hour earlier can be transformational to your health.
So, if you are finding yourself at a crossroads in your life since you have had your children, remember that it is not easy being a mum, but that doesn’t mean that your health and dreams of what you want in your life need to go out the window. It may feel counterintuitive, but the more you prioritise your own health and energy, the more you have to give to everyone else around you. There may be no I in team, but there definitely is an I in Mum, but sometimes you just have to prioritise finding her again.