March 18, 2016

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I have a talent for self-care. Looking after myself and making sure I feel good is something I prioritise do well, always have. I’m a giver, but not in the sense that I only give to those I love generously. That is something I most certainly do, however I also give to myself a whole lot. I am happily selfish in this way. Are you nodding and high-fiving in my direction, or are you the kind of person to burn the candle at both ends and maybe put yourself last? I wouldn’t say I put myself first, especially now that bubs has come along, however I have an innate ability to determine what needs to be done to keep my family trucking along, while still slotting in “me time”. I think it comes down to the fact that I am more rooted in the present moment than future ambitions – I like to enjoy the now. And I’m not even sure if this is due to losing a loved one at a young age…surely that sharpened my reality and resolve, but I think I have always been really good at keeping myself happy. And while my “me time” looks a little different now that I don’t have multiple free hours to watch BBC Jane Austen adaptations, I am aware that now, more than ever, those moments for myself are important. Because I am literally being drained of energy and nutrients as I breastfeed a small human being.

Have you every done personality tests? I did a bunch a couple of years ago because friends of mine were discussing it, and as an ESFJ (through and through), I like to make my loved ones happy and I suppose this extends to myself. I know how to make sure I feel my best so I can be productive and a good person to those around me. Being selfish in this respect is a good thing, I feel. As a stay-at-home mum of one, I do not have too much on my plate and most days can fit in self-care fairly easily. Some days are busier than others and the ways in which I can be selfish are limited, but it’s not a battle at the moment to find the time (talk to me in the future when I’m back at work and hopefully have more kids and am knowing what it’s really like to feel tired). But even if you are incredibly busy, I know that we can make some time for ourselves, not matter how brief the moment. We have to. Ignoring ourselves only means we are more likely to feel drained, glum and resentful.

With complete awareness that my life is not full of challenges, here is my own little example of fitting in “me time”. Even in my own cruisy world, these acts of self-care make a huge difference in the way I feel. You see, recently baby Joan had her first cold, leaving her more clingy and demanding than usual, and as a result I was quite time poor. I was also incredibly tired from very wakeful nights and more than ever needed some self-care. That’s the way, isn’t it? The days when you have the least amount of time are when you need more than ever to sit in a hot tub and fill up your cup (with wine). But I sacrificed a few things to feel good – the laundry waited because I decided a shower was more important. I defrosted a crappy batch of lentils I had made for Ben and I instead of prepping a fresh dinner, because I felt I needed a super smoothie to get through the afternoon. And I skipped an appointment in favour of playing with bubs on our bed, because giggles are the best medicine and I didn’t fancy car travel dramas. These choices sound like no big deal, right? But they kind of are…I know from working with clients over the years that many individuals are not this way inclined, they will push through and clean or care for others, they’ll feel guilty about cancelling commitments even if it serves them best to do so, and they wind up leaving themselves last. I like doing things for my family, it makes me happy to give, truly. But I also like to do completely selfish things too, like sitting in the bath watching documentaries on ballerinas and sipping coconut water, or googling “celebrity house tours” while eating peanut butter from the jar with a stick of celery. I sincerely love seeing what Hilary Duff’s lounge room looks like. Some days, standing alone in the kitchen, stirring a pot of porridge while sipping a cup of coffee is all I need to feel like myself. A quick google definition search informs me that I may have chosen the wrong word here, as “selfish” means holding no concern for others around you and being chiefly focussed on your “personal profit or pleasure”. I’d argue that by being selfish in the respect of prioritising self-care, you are in fact nurturing those around you. These restorative practices make me happier to give. By making time for yourself and doing whatever it is you need to feel centred and alive, everyone around you benefits.

Here is a list of my self-care practices. I hope it may serve as inspiration for ways in which you can be selfish too. As I said above, the number I am able to do (and the time I can pour into them) varies, but I always make sure to do something every day. It makes me a better mumma, a better partner, a better person. And please, let me know how you look after yourself in the comment section. I’d love to get more ideas.

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♥ WALK OUTSIDE. I remember during one of our initial first-time-parent group sessions, our Maternal Child Health Nurse moderator spoke of the importance of doing something every day for ourselves. For her, it was a shower. For others, it was knitting or watching a favourite show. For me, it was going on a walk. Lacing up my sneakers and listening to a podcast while going on a brisk, energising morning walk was something I always did pre-baby Joan, and it’s something I’ve continued doing since she was about a month old. It makes me feel alive and happy and excited for my day. Early on, I’d wait until bubs was asleep and then strap her in the Ergo carrier for our walk. A few months later I’d time it so she fell asleep in the pram on our walk. Now, at almost 7 months old, she forward-faces in the Ergo carrier for the majority of the walk and towards the end, when nap time is nearing, I face her inwards and she falls asleep while I walk home. I still do it every morning, listening to podcasts and feeling alive and happy and excited for my day. If all else fails and I can manage only one self-care practice for the day, I make sure I’ve had my walk. There may be fewer vegetables on my plate and I may be stinky and unshowered all day, but gosh darn it I will have gone outside for some fresh air.

♥ TAKE A SHOWER. Goodness this makes me feel brighter. Running around the house and weightlifting a small human can make you sweat and feel like you need a margarita. In place of tequila, I have a shower. Multiple times a day. I’m not a water waster, my showers take approximately 1 minute each (I just strip off, jump in, jump out, dry and re-dress, all in a minute or so), but these rinses help me feel fresh and good in my self.

♥ MOISTURISE. At least once a day I put coconut oil all over my body. I looooove it, it’s so simple, my skin sucks it up and it makes me smell delicious.

♥ A MORNING CUP OF COFFEE. I really needn’t explain this one. Stepping outside and sipping it slowly is a bonus, but I’ll take it any way it’s coming at me.

♥ EAT. I was never the kind of person who is busy to eat. Forgetting meals? Are you serious? But once Joan came along I found the hours ticked over quickly and before I knew it, three hours had gone by and I could feel my energy waning. If we’d had a rough night and I was more tired than usual, I particularly found eating regularly and eating well to be incredibly important if I didn’t want to end the day in a mess. And so, I made sure to fill my diet with meals and snacks made of vegetables, whole grains, nuts and dates, fruit, avocado, protein rich foods like eggs and fish, and then treats like raw cacao. The kind of food that makes me feel good and helps my brain function (because it needs all the help I can get). I’d also not eat too much at one time, never go more than a few hours without eating and ensure I stayed hydrated. And really, nourishing myself in this way makes such a difference to how I feel. As a dietitian and generally as a food-lover, I am so keenly aware how food affects our energy levels, mood and overall health and wellbeing. On those tired days when you can’t be bothered and just want a slice of cake for breakfast, that is when you most need a plate of vegetables and eggs. Rather than a second or third cup of coffee for afternoon tea, make a smoothie instead. And instead of takeout fish and chips for dinner, make grilled salmon and roasted vegetables. Hahaha, no, I’m totally kidding on that last one, get the frikkin’ fish and chips if you want them. You’ve earned them, especially when fuelling so well during the day when all you want to do is eat gummy bears. But to ensure you don’t feel an energy slump, limit how often you get takeaway and pair it with a salad while keeping the portion regular and not monster-tired-lady sized.

eggs + veg + toast
♥ READ. We are so connected to screens these days, and I don’t know about you but I feel more like a centred human being when I pick up a proper book and read. Some days it will be a novel, other days a magazine or a cookbook, and most of the time I only read a couple of pages before baby care duties call, but holding words on paper grounds me.

♥ WATCH. If I am going to watch something on a screen, I try to make it intentional. Flicking through Netflix and landing on the best thing available at the time rarely leaves me satisfied and most of the time makes me feel dirty, to be honest. There’s so much crap on tv these days. And so I made a rule that I will only watch shows that make me feel good. For me, that’s Downton Abbey, Girls, Mad Men and the like. Shows that I connect with and make me feel good. And there’s no judgement here, if I felt good watching house renovation or make-over shows, I’d watch them unabashedly. The point is, rather than aimless flicking, I make sure to sit down and tune in completely so that I feel I’ve spent my free time wisely. And that means no phone scrolling while watching – isn’t is sad how difficult that can be sometimes?! While watching shows isn’t a part of my everyday routine, I felt it worth mentioning because I am definitely someone who loves watching movies and vegging out on the couch, as is my husband. And so, in our sleep deprived state I like to ensure we aren’t selecting some crappy movie that will leave us going “why did we waste our precious time watching Kate Hudson steal her best friend’s fiance?”. This means we often have to purchase a show off iTunes and so be it.

STRETCH. Joan isn’t a large baby. In fact, she’s quite petite. But MAN can you get sore from looking after a small child. A few stretches morning and night, maybe a couple of sun salutations, makes me feel good.

♥ DANCE. It’s as simple as popping on some Billie Holiday and dancing around the kitchen while prepping a meal or putting away dishes. Sometimes I have Joan on my hip and I kinda prefer it that way. “I Cried For You” is our song. I guess that makes it more “us time”. Music is a powerful thing and I always find that by playing some sort of music in line with the mood in which I wish to be, I end up feeling it. Diamonds by Rihanna is on high rotation.

How do you practice self-care? What makes you feel like centred and like your true self when you most need it?

P.S. This whole self-care business I’m harping on about ties in with a new website I am launching, which I’ll share with shortly. You know me, always wanting to share and connect. That’s all it is, nothing worth the build up I seem to be encouraging by writing this little postscript. You’ll see. It’s small and sweet. At least, that’s what I’m aiming for.

Heidi xo

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  • Wendy March 18, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I love this post! I am a new mum to a 8.5 month old so I can relate to so much of this. When I was on maternity leave I would use the first morning nap to do some yoga (via YouTube). The first thing I did once she fell asleep was roll out my mat, although I did have to consciously stop myself from first tidying up, putting some laundry on, or checking my phone. Even if I just did 10-20 minutes of yoga I felt so much better for doing it. I am back at work part-time now and am finding it much more difficult to find me time, especially as it is not easy to “turn off” from my job. This post is a good reminder that I need to put myself first sometimes, in order to be a better mum and wife. Also its a reminder about what is important in life… work and chores will always be there, but my little girl will only be a baby for so long!

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:21 am

      I love that, Wendy! And I so agree, 10-20 minutes of yoga can feel amazing. I hope you do find the time to keep it up now you’re back at work. Chores can totally wait x

  • Kate@Mindfoodly March 19, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Love this idea! Self care is so so important.

    Can’t wait to see the new website 🙂

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Thanks, Kate! x

  • Jessica March 19, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Thanks Heidi,
    Your posts are also resonating with me. I have been yearning for a positive blog on personal experiences of raising a newborn but this blog exceeds with great food inspo, and general wellbeing. Keep it up, look forward to the next post

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Oh thank you, Jessica! So nice of you to say x

  • Caitie March 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Heidi! I am not a mother yet but this post resonates with me. Looking after yourself enables you to look after others, true, but also you deserve to feel good. I find that I need to put a lot of effort into self care otherwise it’s easy to get stressed out/anxious and sick. Sometimes I feel annoyed at how much work I have to put into this whilst others can treat themselves as a garbage disposal and seem to be fine! But it’s ok I am a delicate flower I guess! 🙂 For me vigorous sweaty exercise at least twice a week, frequent walks, healthy + tasty food, good sleep, limiting alcohol etc are necessary to high level functioning at uni/work/life. Every so often I have a naturopath make me up a herbal tonic. Comfort reading old classic books (Anne of Green Gables never fails) and cuddles with my husband are the best. Also I can’t relax/produce in a messy environment so procrastocleaning happens a lot.

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:23 am

      It sounds like your body clearly thanks you when you look after yourself, Caitie, great job! Procrastocleaning is so great too hehe I hear ya. I cant relax in a messy environment either. So sometimes I need to just have one space that’s clean and I hang there. My poor husband’s study is the junk room. Yeah, I gotta fix that… 🙂 x

  • Jemma March 19, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Self care is very new to me and I’m still not the best at taking care of myself but I’m definitely improving. I find going for walks no matter how long or short is a nice way to get me in more of a chilled head space. Also going out for a latte and people watching is a favourite of mine

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:24 am

      People watching is so calming, isn’t it? x

  • Lauren March 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Hey Heidi, I love this post! Self-care is the ultimate gift. Favourite habits of mine are going for a brisk walk, practicing mindfulness outside, visiting the ocean, savouring a cup of coffee, writing, reading and dancing. I’m looking forward to exploring the new website soon – it sounds sweet! L xo

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, Lauren! Mindfulness outside is hugely helpful, it totally centres me too x

  • Julia @ Chic To Do March 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Phone scrolling during a TV show or movie is my worst crime. I am so conscious lately of how much I do it, and am really trying to cut down. I’ve also been trying to get into bed half an hour earlier and read a book – since having a baby four years ago I really don’t make enough time to read, which is one of my favourite things. Trying to fix that this year!

    • Heidi March 23, 2016 at 9:26 am

      It’s one of those things that I always feel so much better reading a book vs a show that im phone scrolling through. It seems like more of an effort to pick up the book but we gotta get past that! Let’s do it (high five!) x ps sorry for the excessive cheerleader tone

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  • Lexie March 26, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    As always Heidi, when reading your posts, I feel like you are speaking to me! I am a mumma of a 9.5 month old and recently I have been very guilty of not taking care of myself at all, making me a not so good partner or mumma. After being called out on it I am working on it, doing a pilates challenge which is just 10 mins a day is making a difference, and having a shower when I want one! Can’t wait to see what youve got in store for us! Thanks for all the positivity Heidi!

    • Heidi March 31, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thank you, Lexi, that’s a lovely thing to say. All the best as you begin to prioritise self care! x

  • Eugénie April 1, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful post Heidi. Self-care is something that I’ve struggled with for a while, usually putting study and looking after others before myself. It’s only in the last 4 months or so that I’ve really made a breakthrough but it’s great to get more ideas for self-care practices and to hear that it’s not “selfish” to look after yourself. I love practicing yoga, reading, listening to music, catching up with girlfriends and going for walks. I also love listening to podcasts and I’m wondering if you can recommend any? Thank you!

    • Heidi April 9, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Beautiful, Eugenie! Well done. Re podcasts, I love The Longest Shortest Time, Here’s The Thing, Spilled Milk & Death, Sex & Money. x

      • Eugénie April 22, 2016 at 11:41 am

        Thanks Heidi for the podcast ideas, I will have a look and try one out on my walk later!

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  • Jasha April 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I learnt the hard way to self care, I had a really hard year when my first daughter was born, and I started feeling so consistently uncentred and grumpy I had to do something…see a counsellor, and start taking time alone to connect with myself.
    You’ve made me think – now, 3 years later, I have SO many little self care things I slip into my days. They are mostly sensory based. I’ve had to adapt some of them to having two kids, I don’t get nap time to myself these days!
    I like to make sure I go to cafe once a week and journal, and check in with myself. I stitch or knit as a kind of meditation, so I will have a project in a basket next to my couch most of the time. I like to get out lots of art supplies and make something yummy when the kids are in bed, while listening to a podcast (I like “the good life” and “Leonie Dawson”. Often this is just an art journal and splashing colour about, it’s nothing serious.
    When I can’t have child free time, I have lots of little options for self care…..sometimes when everyone is a bit emotional I will take them to the trampoline, we all lay and bounce gently and look at the gum trees high above and the birds. I will often take our lunch out to the lawn with a quilt and have a little picnic, that always feel special. I hop in our hammock chair and ask my 3 year old to push me, she loves it! I will put everyone in the shower with me to play with the water and cups if I need to, I won’t go without a shower! I make a cup of tea with herbs from the garden (lemon balm, mint and lemon verbena), breathe in the scent, put on pandora tunes and clean the kitchen up.
    In a fix, after a tough day. I will duck out to the shops for a minute by myself at night with the windows down, a song I love playing as loud as possible and sing along at the top of my lungs. Very refreshing! Sometimes I also stop by the beach when I’m out on an errand, quickly jog to the top of a lookout, be whooshed by cool wind in my face, then run back to the car and home….no one the wiser!
    I’ve also recently started going to mindfulness classes run by a friend, it is amazing and is changing my thoughts, slowly and gently and I feel a little kinder to myself.
    Thanks for your writing, it was lovely to read and inspiring 😊

    • Heidi April 12, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Thank you for such beautiful, real words, Jasha. I applaud your self-care efforts and take inspiration for when we (hopefully) have a bigger family and my ability to take me time may be tested. I adore the trampoline idea. And windows down, fresh air by the beach – YES. Thank you for taking the time to comment x

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    ‘re read this. Me time….hmmmm….worth a thought.

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