18/07/2016 11:06 BST | Updated 19/07/2017 06:12 BST

How Full Is Your Cup Today?

How full is my cup?

My cup is always full. In fact, I currently have five full cups of tea stationed around the flat. I never get the chance to bloody drink them.

Or do you mean bra cups? Those particular cups do runneth over. Thanks to a ravenous baby they're inflated beyond all reasonable proportions. There are advantages to this of course: my nipples are currently doubling up as very handy tea towel hangers.

So I think we've established that the cup thing is metaphorical. But lately I've learnt, the hard 'shouty' way, that looking after yourself is at least as important as looking after your crew.

Today, my cup is pretty full. But yesterday, it was down to the dregs.

I was snapping at the toddler, snapping at my husband and contemplating snapping off a chunk of chocolate before 9am. It was the bleary-eyed day after the endless night before, and I felt like the living dead.

So, what changed? Well, I spent the evening with a good friend, chatting over a glass of wine. I had an extra hour's sleep and I took a walk around the park with a latte on a sunny day. I felt like a different person.

This meant that when the toddler wanted to 'ride' me around the kitchen, I was more inclined to play beach donkey than Buckaroo. I played hide and seek, without actually just hiding and refusing to come out. I had the energy to pursue the potty training mission, rather than just leaving her to figure it out for herself at university.

I found the demands of the toddler funny, not irritating. I realised that the same day, with the same challenges, could unfold so differently depending on my frame of mind. And, most importantly, it reminded me that the response I want to give my children is an easy smile, rather than a stressed glare. That's the reason I started this blog in the first place.

Parenting from a full cup makes the job easier and more enjoyable, which of course makes us better at it. So you see, giving yourself a little TLC is most definitely not selfish - it's a winner for everyone. Hello? Is that the massage parlour?

Here are a few things that work for me (and don't require extra time, or time away from kids):

Fresh air

Fresh coffee

Nice smells - essential oils can lift (try citrus) or calm (try lavender or frankincense) your mood

A little bit of luxury - posh handwash and lotion in the bathroom, or some fancy tea for the morning brew

Eating well and eating mindfully - I try to stock the freezer when I have the energy, so I can eat good stuff when I don't

Reading a funny blog or article

Playing music

Walking briskly

A really good glass of wine when both kids are asleep (that's one cup that won't stay full for long)

How do you fill your cup?

This post originally appeared on Parenting Calm, a blog about mindful living and positive parenting - with a sense of humour.

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