It probably tells you everything you need to know about my life that I was sent a 10 minute meditation CD, and just couldn't find the time to listen to it.
Of course I did have the time, I was just using it to do other things: working, child wrangling, cooking, twiddling about on the internet, etc.
But I am a firm believer in the principle that you'll be in a better position to look after your family if you look after yourself first. So how can we focus on keeping calm, when all around us is anything but?
Heather Bestel is a psychotherapist specialising in stress management and the founder of A Little Bit of Me Time, a self help website for busy people. These are her tips for how parents can keep calm:
It's a fact that being a parent is stressful. Once you accept that:
- Being a parent is not a competition
- There is no such thing as 'the perfect mum' and
- You're doing the best you can with what you've got
Then the stress will become more manageable. Here are my 3 tips to help manage that stress.
You may feel that just 24 hours in a day is not long enough, but start breaking things down into smaller tasks and learn to prioritise so you can free up some time in your day. Re-acquaint yourself with the art of delegation and start dividing up the daily chores to create some balance and to make sure you don't end up exhausted at the end of the day.
If you are a working mum, think contingency plan and have a back up plan for your back up plan. You already know what works: keep all important phone numbers in one accessible place; have people on stand by to pick up your kids when a work meeting overruns and have everything ready the night before (clothes, lunch, laptop) so you can make a speedy exit every morning. And (if you have a baby) don't EVER put your jacket on until you've left the house. I've stood up in front of 300 executives to do a presentation with baby sick on my shoulder – I know!
2 Check your energy levels
Find opportunities during the day to re-charge. Take five minutes every hour just to stretch your legs or get some fresh air. Learn a few simple yoga stretches you can do at your desk. Plan some 'Me Time' each week so you can unwind. Get up half an hour early and go for a run or meditate. Invest time in yourself and the whole family will reap the rewards of you being calm and happy. Create daily and weekly rituals that allow you to take time out just for you – a simple bubbly bath or a massage can work wonders for your whole mind and body.
3 Build a support system
Get together with other mums regularly for some offloading and positive strokes. You are doing an amazing job of juggling and balancing all your family's needs and you deserve recognition and praise for all your efforts. Where better than from other women who know and understand what you're going through. Meet up weekly or monthly and take it in turns to listen and cheerlead. Remember, being a mum is the most important job in the world!