Is self care easier if you’re single?

A few weeks ago, I attended a friends hen party. The hen party was fun. But something was troubling me.

I was staying in a hotel that night with another friend. While we were busy getting ready for the hen party, she started pouring her heart out to me. It appeared that her marriage was on the rocks. Whilst I was shocked to hear this, I was not entirely surprised.

As my friend continued to tell me her problems, it occurred to me that all she might actually need was a little bit of time out for herself. From where I was standing, the issues they faced as a couple were largely down to the fact that my friend did not take much time out for herself. Not only did she seem trapped by being mum to her two children, her vibrations also constantly seem to be low.

So I decided to try and talk her into creating some time for herself.

The trouble is, she wasn’t ready to hear what I had to say. She wanted to blame her husband for everything that was going wrong. She couldn’t see that by taking a little time out for herself, it might actually help her to look at things more rationally, and generally make her feel a lot happier.

This really got me thinking about self care. Does being single make it easier for me to ensure I spend time on my self care? Perhaps it is selfish of me to think that self care is possible for everyone to maintain. Perhaps it is harder for couples with children, and even more so for single parents.

I decided to explore these thoughts further. So after finding some willing friends, who are parents of children ranging from a few days old to 4 years old, I asked them some questions to get an understanding of how they feel about self care, and how they fit self care into their routines, if in fact they do.

What does self-care mean to you?

I thought it would be really good to understand my friends views on self care first of all.

Answers ranged from:

  • To stop overthinking about other people and carving out something just for you
  • Remembering you’re still a person with valid thoughts, desires, emotions and feelings, despite having children
  • Looking after yourself (d)
  • Taking time out to do things for me, to look after my physical and mental wellbeing (d)
  • Time to focus on myself to make sure I am ok (d)

What is reassuring in their responses is that whether they are male or female, they understand what self care is and the importance of it.

The interesting part for me is the different responses from the mums v the dads. The dad answers marked with a (d) come across as a lot more matter of fact, whereas the mum answers had much more of an emotional connection.

As a parent, how do you create time for self-care?

From experience, even as a singleton, self care doesn’t just happen. You have to create time for it. However, on the other hand, it also shouldn’t become a burden. It’s too easy sometimes, even for someone in my situation, not to bother. But it’ salvo really important not to beat ourselves up about it if life does get in the way. What’s important is when you do find time for self care, to store up those self care points to help get you through the days, weeks or even months when self care time just cannot be squeezed into busy lives.

Even for me, with working long, unsociable hours at times, keeping the flat clean, and trying to maintain some sort of social life outside of working hours, I sometimes have to force myself to check in to see how I am.

So how do my friends who juggle parenting on top of work, manage to create time for self-care?

  • With difficulty…snatched time
  • By sharing duties
  • By staying up later than my partner and watching tv
  • By scheduling it in
  • By being organised. Self-care can only really begin once our evening routine is complete. There’s usually a window once our son is in bed, where I can check in with myself to make sure I am ok.

The key point for me is having a healthy relationship with your partner. By understanding that you are not just parents, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to have time out from this role, hopefully goes some way to stop parents from feeling that guilt they so often endure for leaving their child in someone else’s care, so they can spend some time looking after themselves. Being a parent is one of the most important roles you will ever play. It’s really important therefore that you do create time for you and to recharge your batteries, so that you can give your children the time and energy that they too deserve.

Two of the friends I spoke to, who are both married (not to each other!), have recognised that by sharing child duties as well as social time, helps matters. For Elaine, being in a 50/50 relationship , her and her husband spend an equal amount of time with their daughter, but also recognises when each of them needs a break from playing mum or dad. For Elaine, self-care can take as long or as little as it needs, in order to help remind her that she is still Elaine regardless of her role as Mum. Depending on her needs and the time she has, Elaine’s self-care can be as fun as a few drinks in the pub with friends, or as simple as relaxing in the bath bath and having an early night.

Lewis on the other hand, who is now a father of two, and shares childcare duties with his wife Jen, recognises the importance of scheduling self-care into busy days. Lewis told me that most of the time his self-care takes place at home after his boys are in bed. However, recognising that it is important for both him and his wife to still continue with their hobbies as well as time away from parenting duties, they also schedule in a weekday evening and a weekend morning each, that is allocated free time to themselves.

In the case of both Elaine and Lewis, it’s not just about finding self-care time for themselves, they also understand the importance of freeing up their partners time to look after their own self care too.

Do you have any self-care rituals you would care to share for other parents out there?

Whilst there were few self-care rituals people wanted to share, those that did, ranged from simply sitting down and having a cup of tea once the kids had been put down for a nap, to completing outstanding tasks for the day whilst carrying out some mindful thinking, and ending the day with toys being put away to allow for a fresh start in the morning.

However, Lewis may just’ve stumbled across the most fun self-care ritual I have certainly seen for parents to try. Incorporating self-care and time with the little people, Lewis has introduced his boys to the world of Cosmic Kids Yoga Videos. This great concept allows parents to carry out a quick yoga session whilst keeping the little folks entertained!

If you don’t have any self-care rituals, would it be something you would like to know more about?

As much as some of my friends find it hard to fit self care into their routines, they seemed to have a good understanding of what they can do, and where to find more information on self care, should spare time be created.

Do you think self-care is easier for women than men?

This was my final question to the group. Having reflected on whether self care is easier for singletons compared to parents, I then started to wonder whether men and women viewed self care differently.

The answers were varied, and again, there was quite a difference between the views of men and women, with the men’s answers appearing once again with a (d) next to them:

  • I don’t think it’s about gender. I think it’s about mindset (but being in a same sex relationship might give me a different perspective). I think it’s easy to put it down to gender but I see huge differences in our approaches to it in my relationship
  • I think self care is just as easy for women as it is for men, if you let it be. Too many women are martyrs who feel that it is their duty to care for their children and not themselves. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There’s nothing wrong with sharing the load. There’s nothing wrong it’s looking after yourself.
  • It’s easier fo men because it’s often harder for women to admit they need time away from their child (d)
  • I think it’s down to the individual and their circumstances (d)
  • Honestly – I don’t know. Everyone had busy lives and finding time to make time for yourself is probably hard regardless of sex (d).

Conclusion

The purpose of asking these questions, hasn’t really been about finding the definitive answer to whether self care is easier if you are single.

It was an idea that got me thinking about self care and the difference of approach between a single 30 something (me) and my friends, who are all doing tremendous jobs as parents.

The process for me has been fascinating. Peoples opinions vary so much.

I think if anything, the men I spoke to have surprised me more. The support they give to their partners to allow them to create time to be themselves away from being mum or dad, as well as their matter of fact approach to self care, has been surprising, and lovely to hear.

I also want to give my friend Elaine a special mention too. The relationship she has with her husband is refreshing. Being able to recognise when your partner is struggling is not only difficult for many people to recognise, but when they do recognise it, they don’t know how to react to it. Elaine and her husband not only recognise when each other needs time out to be themselves, away from mum and dad duty, but also manage to maintain a 50/50 approach to bringing up their beautiful daughter. On top of that, Elaine gets that it’s ok to not be ok. That if she needs to ask for help, that that’s ok. That looking after yourself is key, not only to a happy marriage, but to happy parenting.

Self care may not be the glue my friend needs in order to keep her marriage together. However, I stand by the fact that with a little bit of time out for herself, she may start to feel better about herself and the situation she is in. With a little bit of self care, a sprinkling of self love and some time to think, I hope that she finds the answers she needs, whether that’s keeping her marriage alive, or simply, by learning to love herself a little bit more.

Positivity

Have you ever stopped to consider why you attract negative people into your life?

I have to admit, it’s something I have often made a habit of.

Not on purpose of course.

But time and time again, I would find myself attracting friends and partners who were negative and needy.

No matter how hard I tried to be positive when I was around them, I was fighting a losing battle.

Over the last 6-7 months, as I have started to change my own mindset, throwing myself into improving my own wellbeing and self care, I have noticed my energy levels change. My sparkle is brighter.

And as a consequence, I’m attracting other people who have a positive energy about them.

Spending time instead with people who, despite the troubled world we live in, who see the good in people, who make the most out of bad situations, and thrive on throwing themselves at life.

Even on days like yesterday, where I felt far from 100%, and woke up with a little bit of attitude, within an hour of being surrounded by positivity, I found myself grinning as wide as a Cheshire Cat, relaxing and, quite simply, enjoying the day.

The more positive we are about ourselves, our lives, and the environments we share, the more positive people will be drawn into our lives, leading us to a much happier existence.

Dreams

I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

I’m not.

But, I’m not sitting around dreading it either.

I’ve never had a dream job. Even as a kid, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Whilst I was at school, trying to decide whether to go to university or not, I didn’t know what course I wanted to do, because I had no idea what I might want to do in the future. By the time I left university, I still had no idea.

It’s taken 35 years for me to start figuring out what i’d really like to do.

Although, looking back, there were times when I toyed with the idea, I just didn’t know how to get there.

I guess part of me has always thought that a dream job, was just that. A dream. Not achievable for those of us who are just ‘ordinary’ people.

But why should it stay as a dream? Why not chase after it?

Whilst I was walking along one of the Algarve’s many beaches last week, it struck me that I finally know what I would like to do.

It may not happen over night. It may even come under a slightly different guise.

But what I do know, is that it feels right to chase after it. To throw (almost) everything into trying to achieve it.

It’s not going to be easy, as I still need to earn a wage while I’m chasing my dream. There will be some multi tasking, hard work and lot’s of juggling involved. But I need to make sure I dedicate some time to focus on my plan for the future.

However hard it might be to chase my dreams, everything seems to be pointing me in this direction. And the difference this time, is that I really do feel ready to work hard for it. I want to do something that gives my life more meaning. To wake up each morning looking forward to going to work. To look forward to going back to work after a week off.

So you may be asking yourself why I’m not dreading work tomorrow? And the answer? I have a plan. Which is ironic. Because I’m rubbish at planning anything outside of my occasional social life. I am slowly but surely, creating a plan, and starting to work towards achieving my dream.

And that makes going back to work tomorrow, all the more bearable.

The Simple Act of Showering

It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest new tips or habits that can really change how we feel and deal with situations.

For me, being quite newly aware of self-care and wellbeing, I’m constantly learning new methods to try and experiment with.

Some stick, others don’t. But I know my self-care journey is all about working out what works best for me. What helps me to unwind, stay calm, but to also stay focused on chasing my dreams.

This week, my self-care tip of the week is….drum roll please…🥁🥁🥁…a good old shower!

Now, before you think I’m crazy/smelly/massively unhygienic, hear me out.

I shower everyday. I can’t function without having a shower in the morning to set me up for the day. If I don’t shower and wash my hair, I feel uncomfortable, dirty and unable to focus, particularly if I am at work.

In the summer, or when on holiday, I will often shower twice a day.

But, I had never thought about showering twice a day on a normal day.

After reading about the power of the shower at the weekend, it got me thinking.

The idea is not only to wash off the days work, but to help transition the mind from work mode to home mode, in turn, helping the mind and body to relax, and hopefully enabling a more enjoyable evening, and a much better nights sleep.

So I decided to give it a try.

Monday evening, I came home from work, cooked, and then took a shower. The shower felt heavenly after a day in the office. Afterwards I swapped all of the clothes I had been wearing that day (including my underwear and even my socks) for my comfy joggers and a baggy sweatshirt. I still had work to do, but by showering after dinner, I was then focused on only completing work tasks I had to do, without letting it bog me down and/or getting side tracked. I even had time to catch up on some reading before I fell asleep, and slept like a baby.

Last night, I followed a similar ritual, and again, had a really good nights sleep.

Today I finished work a little bit earlier than normal. I had already decided to have a work free evening, after two long working days earlier in the week. As soon as I got home, I showered. After travelling across London today on the underground and buses, I felt particularly grimy. I stood under the shower for ages enjoying the feeling of the water against my skin, washing away the days dirt, and completely freeing my mind of work. I even had a little chuckle to myself over how good it made me feel.

The other thing I am keen to see if it impacts, is the difference in my skin. As an adult, I have often suffered with lousy skin. I never really had problem skin as a teenager, but as soon as I lived with someone who smoked in my 20s, my skin has never been the same since. To cover my bad skin, I wear make up. But by showering when I get home from work, instead of just washing my face before bedtime, I’m not only washing off the grime, but also my make-up. I’m also making sure I don’t reapply my make up again that evening, in the hope that my skin will get a longer period of time to breathe before I reapply my foundation before work the next morning.

So far, although I am aware that showering twice a day is less kind to the environment (I am having a much shorter shower in the evening than I am first thing in the morning), and may impact my water bills, I have noticed real benefits to my wellbeing by showering twice a day. Not only do I feel cleaner, but my mind is also more relaxed in the evenings, and I am sleeping better than I have done for ages.

Have you discovered any new self care tips so far this year?

The path to self-discovery

Have you ever been known to choose the wrong partner at a time when you are feeling lost?

Perhaps at a time when you have been suffering from low self esteem, you fall for someone who ends up making your self esteem even worse? Or equally as bad, you fall for someone who wants to control you?

I seem to fall into this trap time and time again.

I have actually lost count of the number of relationships I have been in whereby I have come out of them feeling worse about myself than I had before the relationship had begun.

It’s time to change this crazy pattern of behaviour.

I am making a commitment to you, my lovely readers, that I am going to do everything within my power, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

No doubt you are asking yourselves how I am going to achieve this, especially when I have just confessed that my history goes against this.

The difference this time, is the fact that I am on a path of self discovery.

I am learning what makes me happy, what makes me laugh, what makes me smile, and what brings joy to my soul. I am learning what makes me tick. I am learning to notice when I need to be around people, and when I need time to be alone. I am finding new ways to improve my wellbeing and to be more mindful in my day to day, and not just when I am feeling close to burning out. I am learning to look after my mind and to also look after my body more.

I am learning that I don’t need a boyfriend to complete me.

When I am ready to love again, I am hopeful, that because I am happy with myself and who I am, that the person I meet will be happy with themselves too. It will then be time to take another journey, learning how we can work together to bring out the best in each other. To encourage one another to be the best person they can be, without jealousy creeping in or the need to control one another.

Whilst I have made a good start down the path of self discovery, I am nowhere near the end yet. I’m not even sure I am even anywhere near the middle.

But what I do know, is that I am excited by this journey, and I have already learnt a great deal about myself.

Do I sometimes wish I had started this journey sooner? Of course I do. But I am also aware, that I was not ready to make this journey until now.

Self-Care Sunday

After the wobbles of last week, it’s been a beautifully chilled weekend.

Whilst some of the immediate work pressures have been lessened, there is a lot to do over the next few months, with lot’s of evening meetings coming up.

I knew I needed to get some self-care bonus points in the bag to help get me through the next couple of weeks.

The first thing I did this weekend was to get my haircut.

Whilst I’m trying to budget carefully at the moment while I get used to the extra expense of renting the flat on my own, there are some things I’m not prepared to scrimp on.

Getting my haircut at my favourite salon is one of them. It took me ages to find a hairdresser I liked after I moved to London. In fact, half the time I ended up traveling back to Northampton to get my hair cut at the salon around the corner from mum and dads house.

I find some hairdressers so stuffy. I always feel so uncomfortable when the hairdressers are overly manicured and immaculately dressed. Thankfully my hairdresser in London is lovely and normal. We spend most of my appointment chatting about the great outdoors as opposed to gossiping.

I spent Saturday afternoon catching up with some housework and found some time to bake a banana and chocolate chip loaf to put in the freezer, ready to devour next time I have friends or family come to stay.

I woke a few times last night (thanks to my delightful cat who decided to play with her toys right outside my bedroom, and then tried to sit behind my head on my pillow 🙈), and had hoped to sleep in, but my cat was having none of that either.

As if butter wouldn’t melt…

So I decided to get up and make the most of my early start. By 9 o’clock I had my running kit on and was heading out for an early jog. It was so nice to be out and about whilst London was still half asleep. The park was empty except for the odd runner and a few sports teams starting to warm up before kick off. Every time I go out, I’m able to run a bit further, and my body is loving the exercise. I used to convince myself that walking was enough, but I realise now that it’s not. Walkings obviously good for you, but getting my heart racing, breaking out into a sweat and noticing the difference in how my body feels, is fantastic. It’s giving me so much more energy throughout the day, as well as helping me to sleep better.

After my jog, I carried on my workout at home, by cooling down, and lifting some weights. This time last year, I noticed my arms had got really big (and not in a muscly kinda way). That’s when I first realised how much weight I had piled on. Whilst I haven’t lost as much flab from my upper arms as I would like, they are slightly more toned. Hopefully now with jogging and eating better, hopefully it won’t be long until they start to look more how I would like them too.

I’m super pleased that I booked my holiday before Christmas, as this is giving me extra motivation at the moment to keep exercising, knowing its only a few weeks until I fly out to Portugal. On top of that, two of my best friends get married in the first half of the year, a month apart, so with two hen parties and two weddings after my holiday, I’m hoping that will give me the motivation I need to keep me focused on my new eating and exercise regime well into the summer months.

After my workout I decided to get some more self-care in the bank, with some pampering.

My brother always buys me really good beauty products for my birthday and Christmas. A couple of years ago he brought me Ren Flash Rinse 1 minute facial which has become one of my staple beauty products. It is what it says on the tube, a 1 minute facial. So even when time is short, there is no excuse not to treat my skin.

Another great product my brother brought me last Christmas was GlamGlow’s Poutmud fizzy lip exfoliating treatment, which is fantastic at this time of year when the weather and central heating are playing havoc with my lips. Like REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, it’s really quick to use and leaves lips super smooth.

With my workout and pampering complete, it was time to head off to Westfield to do some much needed pre-holiday shopping. Thankfully, I had some vouchers to use, so I came away with some lovely new holiday clothes without suffering from buyers guilt.

I then made it back home in time to pop outside to my terrace before it got dark, to see what state my plants were in. I love gardening, but as soon as the winter weather creeps in, I tend to neglect my poor plants. But it was lovely to get out there this afternoon to tidy up and deadhead the plants that haven’t realised it’s winter yet. A perfect way to end the afternoon.

So after a topsy turvy week, it’s been a productive weekend, with lot’s of self-care. I’d love to sit here and say I’m ready for that week ahead. Whilst my body maybe, my mind would really like another day or two at home not worrying about work. But at least I’m getting closer to my Algarve Adventure ✈️☀️🏖

A Belated New Chapter

Slightly later than anticipated, but Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a great start to the New Year.

2019 got off to a slightly strange start.

I had a lovely Christmas back home with my family.

Despite my recent breakup, I was looking forward to getting back to London.

I was excited to be moving my cat down to London with me. I have had my little four legged creature for about 5/6 years now. She had been living with my mum and dad for the last 3 years, but finally my landlady has given in and allowed me to bring her to the flat. They say cat’s aren’t as loyal as dogs, but this one doesn’t leave my side. Even when I’d go back to mum and dad’s, she follows me everywhere.

It’s been hard getting her settled into flat life this week though. With my ex starting to pack up his things in preparation of moving out of the flat, it’s taken her a good few days to settle in, but judging from the photo below, she’s getting there!

img_0978

It’s been a hard week for all of us I guess.

The day my ex moved out, I was a more emotional than I had anticipated. We moved into this flat just over 2 years ago after only knowing each other for 6 weeks. There are a lot of memories here.

Yet, I know the decision to go our separate ways is the right one.

I hope we can remain friends, but only time will tell.

So with the first week of January almost behind us, rather belatedly, I am ready to start the new year. My new chapter.

Change is always slightly unnerving, but it’s exciting too.

I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.

It’s time to start filling the pages of 2019.