Creating the best possible home environment for our family is my ultimate goal in life. My greatest ambition is for my girls to grow up and recount their childhood as calm but joyful, stable but full of positivity. They say ‘mum sets the tone in the home’, and I completely buy into that – which is why it’s so important that I take care of my own mental health and wellbeing in order that I can provide what our family needs too.
Of course, it didn’t last – it never does. I worked hard on improving my state of mind and things got better.
What Wellbeing Means to Me
For me, wellbeing is multi-faceted. It means taking care of yourself in all ways, including your emotional, mental, and physical health. To feel content it’s important not to neglect any of these areas of your life. Naturally, when you’re a mum to small children it’s not always practical to take time out for yourself – which kind of makes it all the more important!
Nonetheless, while lack of time, sleep, and autonomy can be incredibly draining, something I found helped me was taking ownership of my own wellbeing:
Happiness is a choice; positivity is a mindset; gratitude is the path to both.
As a busy mum there’s nothing I crave more than a little bit of peace. Of course that’s generally not realistic with two little hooligans tearing around and using me as a climbing frame. And that’s on a good day. On a bad day I find myself desperately pulling trick after trick out of my toolbox to soothe and placate hysterics.
If you know, you know.
I fear that our feisty eldest diva is already demonstrating signs of anxiety, something I really, really don’t want for her. So we’ve recently tried using a weighted blanket, several activities to support her emotional development, and also introduced her to the concepts of mindfulness and gratitude – basically any techniques which may encourage Pixie to unblock her chakras, or at least find a little bit of zen. The results are encouraging.
One of our favourite things to do as a family is put silly music on and dance! It’s simple but effective to improve everybody’s mood, from toddler to preschooler, to parents – none of us are immune to the power of a good beat. We’ve also been practising yoga at home, as a family – something we all love to do and I can’t recommend highly enough!
Diet and Wellbeing
We’re a fairly health-conscious family – but I also understand the value of a little bit of what you fancy.
After going dairy-free whilst breastfeeding Elfin as a baby due to her CMPA, I’m not going to deny myself my favourite treats once the children are in bed. But I’m a bit of hypocrite because we limit the girls’ intake quite strictly! We feel this is important while they’re still learning about nutrition, though we try to be balanced in our approach and encourage getting outdoors for fresh air, and moving our bodies too.
No doubt things will change as they get older, but for now our job is to put their welfare first.
Another reason I’m determined to enjoy my food is that until around ten years ago I had a severely restricted diet: I suffered terribly with IBS and it affected my quality of life for years. I’m so grateful to have found a life-changing diet that turned things around for me – so these days I’m a massive foodie! (If you suffer with severe bloating, and are interested in trying the diet that helped me, I have a post full of recipes for IBS.)
Body Image and Wellbeing
Of course, diet is closely linked with the way we perceive ourselves, which comes back to our mental health. I’m fortunate that with both of my babies I’ve not struggled to regain my figure afterwards – though I’ve definitely been overweight in the past!
It’s hugely important to me that my daughters grow up with a healthy attitude towards their bodies, which makes me very careful of the way I talk about my body in front of them. Equally I look after myself so I have a fairly good relationship with my body, and I hope that’s enough to foster the same in Pixie and Elfin. I’m conscious of the cultural expectations placed on women’s appearance that I unwittingly buy into – and I hope it ends with me.
Women’s Health and Wellbeing
Something I never really had much choice over when I was growing up was sanitary products – there were two choices, and that was it. I’m thrilled to see so many new options coming on to the market to make life easier for young girls – and it’s a bonus that many of them have come about thanks to the sustainability movement.
I will absolutely educate my girls and give them choice, but I hope they’ll consider using a menstrual cup, something I’m a recent convert to myself.
Another issue I really worry about which while not unique to having daughters is more likely to effect girls than boys, is their appearance in terms of body hair, make up, and fashion. Navigating these difficult areas of adolescence is going to be tough, particularly since our culture makes it very hard to defy societal expectations of hair removal in particular.
I’m a great believer that it’s far easier for our children to resist conforming (if they wish to) if we’re able to provide a strong foundation at home. It’s our responsibility to forge self-confidence in our girls and equip them with the necessary tools to question anything they’re not comfortable with. I believe a great deal of this will also come from a solid and healthy relationship with their dad – something I have no concerns about at all!
Finally, one of my greatest hopes for our girls is that they never experience bullying. It’s something I’ve had to deal with many times in my life and I desperately want to avoid that for them.
I’ve left friendship groups more than once for the sake of my mental health – and I’d do it again if necessary. Sometimes walking away from a friendship is the best thing for your emotional wellbeing, even if you have a very long history.
I’m going to end with a couple of uplifting suggestions; why not read my post about how to forgive, and why you should; improving somebody’s day without it costing you a penny; or the power of empathy – and why too much is bad for you?