Why boundaries are important as a Mum

From the moment children enter your life you become stretched thin. All your time, energy, emotional bandwidth, finances everything gets stretched. It’s easy when this happens for boundaries to become blurred or even worse forgotten.

Boundaries are essential for maintaining balance, preserving mental and emotional well-being, and fostering healthy relationships..

They are the invisible lines we draw to protect our physical, emotional, and mental space. They define what is acceptable and unacceptable in our interactions with others. For mums, boundaries are crucial for maintaining a sense of autonomy, self-respect, and sanity amidst the demands of parenting.

So why do we need them?

As a mum, it’s natural to prioritize the needs of your children and family. However, neglecting your own needs can lead to burnout, resentment, and diminished well-being. Setting boundaries allows you to carve out time for self-care, hobbies, recharging your batteries.

(And boundaries teach your children valuable lessons about respect, empathy, and healthy relationships!)

Types of Boundaries for Mums:

  1. Time Boundaries: Establishing designated “me-time” for self-care activities such as exercise, hobbies, or relaxation.
  2. Emotional Boundaries: Recognizing and honouring your emotions, while also setting limits on how much emotional labor you’re willing to take on.
  3. Physical Boundaries: Communicating your need for personal space and physical comfort, especially when it comes to cuddles, hugs, or personal belongings.
  4. Social Boundaries: Being selective about social engagements and setting limits on your availability for socializing to prevent overwhelm.

Tips for Setting Boundaries:

  1. Identify Your Needs: Reflect on what’s important to you and where you need to set boundaries to safeguard your well-being.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Express your boundaries assertively yet kindly, using “I” statements to convey your needs without blame or guilt.
  3. Be Consistent: Enforce your boundaries consistently to establish a clear message and reinforce respect for your limits.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: It’s okay to say no and prioritize your needs. Remember that setting boundaries is an act of self-care, not selfishness.
  5. Seek Support: Surround yourself with understanding friends, family members, or support groups who respect your boundaries and offer encouragement.

Enforcing Boundaries: Enforcing boundaries can be challenging, especially when met with resistance or pushback from loved ones. However, staying firm and consistent is essential for maintaining your self-respect and preserving your well-being. Remember that setting boundaries is not about controlling others but rather about honoring your own needs and values.

As a mum, setting boundaries is not only important for you but also your family. By prioritizing self-care and asserting your needs, you create a healthier and more balanced environment for everyone.

January Blues

January arrives, and with it comes a wave of emotions that might not match the festive cheer of the preceding months. The January blues, often felt after the whirlwind of the holiday season, can leave you feeling a bit down, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s a feeling lots of us share as we move from the festive Christmas period into the New year.

Embracing the Transition

The shift from Christmas into the routine of everyday life can be jarring. Even though lots of us cannot wait to put the Xmas dec’s away and have a sense of order return (or is that just me?!) it does leave the house looking empty and a bit flat.

Weathering the Seasonal Changes

January brings cold weather, shorter days, and longer nights. The lack of sunlight and the winter chill can impact mood and energy levels. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons, is common during this time. The reduced exposure to natural light can affect the body’s internal clock, leading to feelings of fatigue and sadness.

Coping Strategies for January Blues

Acknowledging and addressing these feelings is the first step in managing the January blues. Here are some strategies that may help navigate this emotional phase:

  1. Self-Care Rituals: Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that bring comfort and joy. Whether it’s reading a favorite book, taking long walks, practicing mindfulness, or enjoying a warm bath, these rituals can provide solace during the transition.
  2. Setting Realistic Goals: Embrace the new year by setting achievable goals. However, it’s crucial to be realistic and kind to oneself. Small, manageable goals can bring a sense of accomplishment without overwhelming pressure.
  3. Seeking Light: Combat the effects of reduced daylight by spending time outdoors, opening curtains to let natural light in, or using light therapy lamps, which mimic natural sunlight and can alleviate symptoms of SAD.
  4. Connecting with Others: Maintain social connections. Reach out to friends and family for support. Engaging in social activities or volunteering can uplift spirits and create a sense of community.
  5. Mindful Practices: Incorporate mindfulness or meditation into daily routines. These practices can help manage stress, improve mood, and promote a sense of calm and clarity.

Embracing Positivity in the New Year

Remember, the January blues are transient. This phase will pass, and brighter days lie ahead. Embrace this time as an opportunity for reflection, growth, and new beginnings. The start of a new year presents a chance to set intentions, pursue passions, and embark on new adventures.

Let’s navigate the January blues with compassion for ourselves. Acknowledging these feelings and implementing self-care strategies can foster resilience and pave the way for a fulfilling year ahead. So, as January unfolds, let’s embrace the journey and welcome the possibilities that lie ahead.

New Years Resolutions and your mental health….

Did you know New Year’s resolutions and mental health are closely linked?  I am tempted to just say ‘ Dont even bother doing them’ but that would make a very short blog post wouldn’t it?  And to be fair setting and achieving goals can have a significant impact on your well-being.

However, it’s important to approach New Year’s resolutions with mindfulness and consideration of your mental health. Personally I like to have a theme for the year and try and weave that into whatever I am doing throughout the year. Last years word was ‘enhance’. I just wanted to try and raise everything I did up a notch. Did I acheive it? Well the honest answer is; sometimes. And I am ok with that. My word this year is Excitement!

If setting resolutions as your thing here are my top tips for making resolutions that promote good mental health…

  1. Set Realistic Goals: Make sure your resolutions are attainable and not overly ambitious. Unrealistic goals can lead to feelings of failure and increased stress. Start with small, achievable steps.
  2. Prioritize Self-Care: Include resolutions that prioritize self-care practices, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in regular exercise. Physical health has a profound impact on mental health.
  3. Focus on Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. These practices can help reduce stress and improve mental clarity.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Consider making a resolution to find a therapist to support your mental well-being.
  5. Social Connections: Resolve to strengthen your social connections and build a supportive network. Maintaining healthy relationships can positively impact your mental health.
  6. Be Kind to Yourself: Self-compassion is essential. Instead of being overly critical when you face setbacks, practice self-compassion and treat yourself with understanding and patience.
  7. Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or use a goal-tracking app to monitor your progress. Celebrate your achievements and use setbacks as learning opportunities rather than reasons for self-criticism.
  8. Stay Flexible: Be willing to adapt your resolutions as needed. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes it’s necessary to modify your goals to better align with your current circumstances.
  9. Set Mental Health Goals: Consider setting specific mental health-related goals, such as managing stress, reducing anxiety, or developing resilience. These goals can help you focus on your emotional well-being.
  10. Connect with Supportive Communities: Join support groups or online communities focused on mental health. Sharing your experiences and learning from others can be beneficial.
  11. Monitor Perfectionism: Be mindful of perfectionistic tendencies. Striving for perfection can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Aim for progress, not perfection.

Remember that New Year’s resolutions are not a one-size-fits-all and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to approach your resolutions with self-awareness and a focus on what will genuinely promote your mental well-being. If you find that your resolutions are causing more stress or anxiety, it’s okay to adjust or abandon them. Your mental health should always be a top priority.

 

Holidays are coming……

Christmas is round the corner and whilst it’s usually depicted as a time of joy, love, and togetherness, for many of us Mums Christmas can also be a source of stress and anxiety. The pressure to create a perfect Christmas experience, Elf on the Shelf, Christmas Eve boxes and no end of other shit combined with the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, and decorating, can take a toll on your well-being. And don’t even get me started on the amount extra admin that comes from school and nursery. It’s insane.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize stress and anxiety during the festive season.


So here are my top tips to help you enjoy a more relaxed and peaceful Christmas season.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the most effective ways to alleviate stress is by planning ahead. Create a to-do list or a calendar of events. I have one master spreadsheet onto which I write everything that’s happening at school, my present list and a to do list. I’m lucky I don’t have to cook Christmas dinner but if I did then the food list would go in here also. This will help you stay organized and reduce the last-minute rush. Make sure to set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish. You can share your spreadsheet with other people in your life e.g., partners, ex partners, in laws and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
2. Set a Budget
Financial stress is a common source of anxiety during the holidays. Set a budget for your Christmas spending and stick to it. Consider homemade gifts or thoughtful gestures rather than expensive presents. Anything with a drawing on it your kids have done that can be made into something for a relative is always a winner!
3. Simplify Decorations
You don’t have to turn your home into a winter wonderland to create a festive atmosphere. Simplify your decorations, focus on the ones that bring you the most joy, and don’t overextend yourself. A few well-placed ornaments and lights can work wonders without overwhelming you. Do not get swayed by all the stuff you see on Instagram!
4. Delegate Tasks
You don’t have to do everything on your own. Enlist the help of family and friends for tasks like cooking, decorating, and cleaning. Sharing responsibilities can lighten the load on your shoulders. Get your kids involved if you can if they are old enough.
5. Self-Care
Remember to take care of yourself during the holidays… It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and forget your own well-being. Make time for relaxation, exercise, and healthy eating. Practicing self-care will help you stay grounded and better equipped to handle any stress that may arise.
6. Manage Expectations
Perfection is not the goal. No holiday is without its imperfections, and that’s okay. Set realistic expectations for yourself and the day. Focus on the joy of spending time with loved ones, rather than striving for a flawless, social media worthy day.
7. Say No When Necessary
You don’t have to say “yes” to every invitation or request over Christmas and New year. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline some commitments if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Prioritize the activities and events that mean the most to you.
8. Stay Connected
Even if you can’t be physically present with your loved ones, stay connected through video calls, phone calls, or heartfelt messages. Loneliness can exacerbate stress, so maintaining connections can provide comfort and support.
9. Embrace Imperfection
Lastly, remember that perfection is not the key to a great Christmas. Embrace the imperfections and cherish the moments of laughter and love. Christmas is about creating cherished memories and celebrating the people in your life.
10. Set Boundaries
Set Clear boundaries with family members in regard to what you will and won’t do or tolerate. Family can massively contribute to stress and anxiety over the Christmas periods so having clear boundaries for yourself can help to protect your mental health.
The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and togetherness, not a source of stress and anxiety. By following these top ten tips, you can create a more relaxed and enjoyable Christmas experience for yourself and your loved ones. Plan ahead, set a budget, simplify, delegate, practice self-care, and manage expectations to help keep stress and anxiety at bay. This way, you can focus on what truly matters during the holidays: love and connection.

New Year new Who?

New year new who?

 

Right about now people the world over are realising that they have fallen at the first hurdle. Maybe having that glass of wine when you said you wouldn’t. Missing the gym session or eating the crisps.

I have never believed in New years resolutions. In fact, I HATE new year’s altogether. New year’s resolutions are destined to fail because you are trying to be someone you are not. If on the 31st of Dec you were not the sort of person who gets up at 6 to go to the gym or the sort of person who always leaves the kitchen tidy before bed then why would you suddenly be that person when you wake on the 1st of Jan?

 

It doesn’t make sense. All it does is set you up to fail and to feel like shit because of it.

 

But wait…..

 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals, things we want to achieve, we just need to take into account our personality types, our current season of life (more on that in a minute) and most importantly WHY we want to achieve this thing.

I find the best way to look at a new year is to have a key word. For example, your word might be HEALTH. Not about losing weight or dieting just overall being healthier.

What does that look like for you? How will you know when you have achieved it?

The next step is to think about what SMALL changes you can make that move you towards that overall aim. If the season of life you are in currently is one of babies and small children at home, is it realistic to think you can get to the gym? If it is, then great but the reality is you probably cannot. So what small step can you do that will help you move towards that goal.

Its FAR easier to complete one small step each day than try to suddenly become someone you are not overnight.

What does Maternal mean to you?

What does the word ‘Maternal’ mean to you?

I have pondered this a lot lately. It’s different things to different people, right?

I thought I would start by looking at the google definition of it.  The synonyms it gives are as follows: Caring, nurturing, loving, devoted, warm, comforting amongst others. This was kind of what I expected to see. It follows everything you see perpetuated in the movies and TV. Those images of the woman just after giving birth staring lovingly at her child.

I then decided to have a look at what it gives for Paternal. And here are the words it gives patriarchal, protective, vigilant, concerned, benevolent. Surely dads are loving and warm and caring in the same way mums are protective and vigilant.  In fact, most of the mums I know (and trust me I know A LOT) are all those adjectives rolled into one. As are the dads.

We need to stop perpetuating this myth of what Maternal looks like. Is a mum who loves her career and is working hard to be a good role model and provide a better standard of living for her child seen as less devoted because she isn’t at the school gate? Does that make her then less maternal? Less of a mother?

So much of the negative bullshit we tell ourselves is because we buy into this myth that we must be a certain way to fulfil what society tells us makes a ‘good’ mum.

It is bollocks. You do you babe.