I’ve been very quiet recently, for good reason too, the pressure of the impending essays and simply the thought of the amount of work I have to do has at times felt very overwhelming. I hadn’t realised the pressure I’d put myself under, to maintain a high level of work and balance mum time to such an extent that I had quite forgotten about me as a person and an individual that needs care too. So this is what this blog post is about, recognising the importance of self-care as something that I need to do, that we all should indulge in from time to time. Christmas is also a strange time for self-care and reflection, you should be feeling selfless and give but it is important to take tooI think parents and (perhaps my own bias) mums particularly, we take on roles of shopping, cleaning, childcare, present shopping, more food shopping, tactical family negotiations, trying to maintain the balance of festive extra special family time and balance the tighter than usual finances, a true Christmas miracle really.
This is Arlo’s 4th Christmas, 4th! He is getting so big, and in that time our family dynamic has changed significantly, Arlo and I have moved out, my sister too has moved out of the family home, there are now our partners to consider, extended family increases as we grow and we’ve lost that annual contact with the far-reaching extended family and the focus shifts onto the newer generations. It is also a point for acknowledging the older members of the family. I love that my family has 3 strong sisters as the head, my grandma being the middle sister. 4 years ago the annual family Christmas Brunch was held at the youngest sisters house, but in the following 4 years she has succumbed to Dementia, our family have witnessed the all too quick spiral of Alzheimer’s and her absence is felt, particularly at Christmas.
Ahh but Christmas as a student, it is very difficult to maintain a festive outlook when you have approximately 10000 words to write and complete by the end of January, all to be of the highest possible standard because its final year and it actually counts! It’s difficult because, I find mostly it taints the build up to Christmas Day with a sense of impending difficulty, you are always supposed to be doing something else and staying in the present is often quite difficult.
I think because of this I think my mental health has taken a wee bit of a knock, particularly my self-confidence and body image, it’s ridiculous I know, but self-reflection and literally my reflection are often my worst enemy, as I agonise over essays and well, not spending the “time off” I have with my toddler my body confidence just drops to zero and my anxiety rises significantly. To combat this I decided to do what might appear counter-productive, to acknowledge that I have reached my limit and to take a break, a real break, not feel guilty about not doing work, not feel guilty about not spending time with the toddler, to instead focus on something entirely different, which just so happens to have been a huge declutter of the house which local charities have greatly benefitted from. I honestly had no idea how much excess stuff I had until it was all bagged up in my living room, it was if the declutter of the house and the re-organisation of whatever was left was mirrored with the organisation and decluttering of my thoughts and mind, which means I’ve managed to channel my time and focus on the tasks in hand, I’ve just about finished the 4000 word essay, I have all the sources I need for my dissertation which is just waiting to be written and a cohesive plan for my 3000 word, and I have somehow also managed to spend some real quality time with Arlo, days out, walks and his favourite thing, just staying at home and playing with all of his toys.
So, looking onwards and upwards, I hope this was not too depressing but rather it reflects the realities of the tough business being a mum with university deadlines! In the midst of this, all I have found some great new focuses which I am going to translate into New Years Resolutions of sorts
- Focus on learning to love my body, all of its bumps, lumps, stretch marks, scars, and wiggles, I have made a lot of changes in my body out of hate for its appearance, I lost a significant amount of weight in March/April but it was not a positive experience because I never addressed the core problem, that is that my bodies is not good enough. But I came across a thought “Would you ever wish to see your daughter look at her body and think it was inadequate, that it wasn’t beautiful?” and of course, no I would not, I would consider it a huge shame if she thought that about the way she looked… So why don’t I apply the same logic to myself?
- My second resolution is as a result of the huge decluttering, that is I will no longer have an “excess” of things, only what I actually need, I will only buy things of quality, that I actually need, as oppose to want for the sake of it, I’ve found that having a much smaller amount of clothing is honestly very liberating! I no longer agonise over what to wear because, well I only have 3/4 options!
- And the last resolution is to stop feeling guilty, it consumes far too much of my time, and that is a luxury I can’t afford, I refuse to spend ages feeling anything negative, time spent feeling guilty could be spent being productive or, maybe not doing anything at all which in a weird way, I have found that it actually increases your productivity!
Oh, and a last word on 2016, many celebrities lost, many many more “ordinary” folks, mothers fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, also lost, the fragility of humanity may have been exposed in the “celebrity icon” world but it is all too familiar in our homes and communities. Here’s to a fantastic 2016 and a new fresh 2017!