Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or at home, be a stay-at-home mum or homeschool mum, it doesn’t matter - the majority of mothers tell us they don't spend enough time on themselves.

Words and images by Shannon Young, thecarefactor.com.au

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has two irreducible core needs. They are: love and belonging according to researcher and mother - Brene Brown.

As mothers, when you have your kids at home with you and you are the centre of their world 24/7, it can take a lot out of you. I understand - I get you. As a mum of three who also coaches mothers to improve their wellbeing, I know how important self-care is to a mother’s ability to be the best version of herself for her loved ones. I also know how tricky it can be to carve out time to go for a walk or to the gym, or curl up with a book or cup of tea or whatever when you have little ones demanding attention. There seems to be no down time - not even in the bathroom!

Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or at home, be a stay-at-home mum or homeschool mum, it doesn’t matter - the majority of mothers report that they do NOT spend enough time on themselves.

However it is important to take care of yourself and when you do - you fill those core needs of love and belonging.

So here are 5 non-standard self-care tips that you can do RIGHT NOW with the kids in the house.

1. Give (and receive) a hug

Give a 3-second hug (3 seconds or breaths at a minimum) to your loved ones instead of a pat on the head. I am a big believer in hugs.

Research shows that a proper deep hug can instantly boost oxytocin levels and serotonin levels which boost your mood and reduce loneliness. This works better for women than men as research shows that women tend to have greater reductions in blood pressure than men after their hugs.

Did you know hugs can actually help you be healthier?

The gentle pressure on the sternum from a hug and the emotional charge this creates also stimulates the thymus gland that regulates the body's production of white blood cells to boost the immune system. So hugs can help you be healthier.

Finally, hugs tell both people involved that they are invested in the relationship. Hugs boost your feeling of being loved.

2. Phone a friend

When you are sitting there with your head in your hands wondering how you can get through another hour or minute, that is the time to pick up the phone (not the email or text) and call someone who cares. We need each other and women especially gain so much from nurturing our female friendships.

Researcher Dr. Ruthellen Josselson says “Women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women. It’s a very healing experience”. I know that the conversations that I have with my female friends are like those I had in boarding school and would make most men’s skin crawl in its honesty and brashness - nothing is really out of bounds.

Phoning a friend boosts your feeling of belonging and reminds you that you are an adult, not just a big kid.

3. Boost your immunity and nourish your body

Add half a lemon to your glass of water you were having anyway. The juice of half a lemon in a glass of water is rich in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system so you fight off colds and flu better.

Also, lemons contain pectin which helps you feel full without feeling bloated so you don’t snack throughout the day which you don't have time for anyway. Show yourself that you care by taking care of your body. It's so important!

4. Stretch … while you get dressed (or pulling up your pants after the bathroom).

Incorporate stretching whenever you can. Reach that extra inch when you put on your clothes. Touch your toes when you put on your shoes. Do a mini back band while you put on your trousers or skirt. Side stretch (half moon pose) when you put on your shirt. It doesn't have to be a full sun salutation to help.

Simple stretches will warm up your muscles and dislodge any fluids in your joints that accumulated when you are sleeping overnight or sitting on the floor, leaving you more energised and standing taller.

This releasing of pent-up emotions in your body through stretching promotes a feeling of self-love and happiness.

5. Colouring WITH the kids

Colouring for adults is trendy for good reason and is a wonderful way to take care of yourself without your kids even realising you are doing something for yourself. This way they won't be knocking on the door whilst you are trying to do your yoga or just have a pee. Colouring with your kids gives you a chance to bond more closely with them.

Colouring in is a fantastic joint activity that promotes love and belonging.
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Colouring for adults is active meditation and that is easier for adults to do because it is still an activity. We don’t think that we are “sitting around doing nothing”.

The three key elements of colouring —repetition, pattern and detail— prompt positive feelings in the brain according to cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Rodski. These positive feelings are because colouring relaxes the amygdala and so lowers your stress levels as you let go of everything else and concentrate. You may find that your breathing slows as well - a great self-care strategy.

So drop and give yourself FIVE.

To take care of yourself so you can be the best version of you for your loved ones. Your children look up to you and will remember more of what you do versus what you say. Teach them self-care by practicing it yourself so they fill their irreducible needs for love and belonging - best lesson ever.

Shannon Young

Wellness Coach

Shannon is a mother-of-three who is passionate about empowering and equipping tired, busy 21st century mums to slow down and practice self-care and mindfulness. Shannon has over two decades experience coaching senior leaders in iconic organisations across industries such as FMCG, IT, Finance and Consulting. You can find out more at thecarefactor.com.au

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