Juggling the delicate balance of inner wellbeing and outer beauty has never been more challenging as a new mum over 40. With a constant influx of well-intentioned advice flooding every corner of the internet, the pressure to feel grateful for everything, be myself, and exude the confidence of a peacock is actually overwhelming – and would you believe, it’s only January!
I get it. But the struggle to be perfect is real – and also unrealistic. For me, self-care is synonymous with discipline. It translates into completing the things I initiate and taking a moment of reflection before embarking on something else, contemplating the financial, time, and energy implications, as well as considering the potential negative impact on others if I don’t follow through.
Setting Boundaries On Screen Time
In a world buzzing with constant notifications and digital noise, I’ve found solace in unplugging lately from Facebook. Intentionally scheduling ‘Do-Nothing’ days recently, where my phone is off, alarms are silenced, and plans are non-existent, has been a game-changer. It’s been like giving myself permission to be without any obligations or pre-planning, allowing natural rejuvenation to take its course.
Self-care for me involves setting boundaries on screen time and moderating the amount of sugar I consume. It means instilling independence in Little C, opting for teaching over doing for him, even when the latter seems easier and causes less friction in the moment. It also entails enforcing consequences I set for him, even if it means temporary difficulty for me.
Daily Downtime Rituals
Waking up consistently at the same time each morning is part of self-care, ensuring I engage in practices that anchor me before the rest of the world awakens: morning pages, journalling, a cup of coffee, and some peaceful moments after the school run.
One thing I’ve learned on my self-care journey is the incredible importance of daily downtime. Whether it’s a few minutes of quiet time, a solitary walk in nature, or just losing myself in a journal, these rituals create a comforting space within me. It’s a place where I can recharge despite the hustle and bustle.
Saying ‘No’ With Intention
Self-care involves honouring commitments and being meticulous about the promises I make. It means adhering to my word as much as possible, even when it’s challenging. Self-care requires me to say no to myself more often than saying yes. It involves questioning whether my future self will appreciate my actions versus my present self and genuinely listening when the response is, “No, your future self won’t appreciate this.”
Saying ‘no’ used to feel daunting, but I’ve come to realise that it’s a powerful form of self-care. Intentionally setting boundaries, not to distance myself from others but to protect my time and energy, has been liberating. It’s about confidently choosing what brings me happiness, embracing the ‘joy of missing out’ (JOMO) when needed, and letting go of the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Protective Free Time
Being protective of my free time doesn’t mean turning down every invitation. It’s about silencing my phone until I’ve had my breakfast. It involves carving out that sacred hour daily in my calendar for me-time, ensuring an undisturbed focus. And if someone wonders why I’m unavailable, a simple, honest response gracefully communicates my boundaries.
Often, it means prioritising what’s necessary over what’s enjoyable. In my world, self-care aligns with discipline because that’s what feels uncomfortable for me. It’s a struggle, going against my default patterns, but pushing against those patterns is precisely how we instigate change.
The ‘joy of missing out’ has become a mantra in my self-care toolkit. If staying in for a cosy night brings me more joy than a social event, I make that decision. JOMO allows me to follow my routine, snooze when I want, and enjoy extra cuddles at storytime with Little C, all while saving a bit of cash. It’s about celebrating the joy that comes with choosing what genuinely brings me happiness.