I remember, so fondly, the year that I spent travelling around the world with nothing but my, now husband, a large backpack and a lonely planet guide. I can still feel the sunshine on my bikini clad body (remember, it was pre-kids), I can still sense the strange new sites and smells, taste the streetfood spices on my tongue, but most of all I can recall that sense of FREEDOM! Oh the freedom. Freedom from work, possessions, commitments of any kind. Occasionally looking for a post office or an internet cafe so I could let the folks back home know that I wasn't dead, was the only 'obligation' I had.
Years later, as a mother, things look veeeeery different. Commitments and obligations pile on top of me, much like the laundry piled up in the spare room. Always there, waiting to be dealt with. We mothers are swamped by possessions and, I don't know about you but, every time a kid's birthday or Christmas comes around there's a slight feeling of panic, "But where will I put all the new stuff?".
And you may not realise it, you may not have made the connection yet but over the years, these to do lists, these tasks, these chores, these phone calls, these things you own and have to look after or tidy away, when you put them altogether they stop you from being happy. They make you anxious or irritable, stop you sleeping, leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed because there's just SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT.
When I ask mums what their biggest struggle is with getting more exercise and eating healthier, almost every time they'll say lack of energy and time. And therein lies the answer. Think of the girl with the back pack - a few clothes to keep her covered, a few books to keep her entertained and a few essentials to keep her safe and grounded.
So how can we apply this backpacking traveller ethos to our lives now? There are so so many obligations and commitments that come naturally with being a parent. Feeding and clothing the kids, getting them to school, finding fecking outfits for World Book Day, showing the children some love, but do you really need to go to EVERY birthday party? Do you really need to take the kids to swimming and gymnastics and ballet and music and and and? Do you really need to fill the weekend with activities and day trips and shopping trips and and and? Do YOU really need to spend your evenings clicking through netflix, angsting over the choice of what to watch, or do you just need to go to bed early for a change?
So how would it be to give yourself some space? To really start saying No more to others and Yes more to yourself.?To have fewer clothes to put away and toys to tidy up? Might then there be more time and energy for you, your health and wellbeing?
As we travelled around India and Thailand I found myself compulsively buying the cheap clothing and beautiful housewares. This 'owning of more possessions' literally and figuratively weighed me down. As I began carrying around close to 20kg everywhere I went, and as I began to have more things to pack an unpack and look after, it stopped being so much fun (fortunately a friend visited us in India and I sent her back with several pairs of Levis and a MAHOOSIVE Indian throw!)
So stop weighing yourself down and start living a life worth living. Now is the only time you have. What can you change today, right now, to start creating a little space in your life for YOU again? And I say this as a woman, mother, who just did an ALDI run for cheese and spent over 30 quid. So, with much love and understanding, here are some ideas to get you started;
You may have heard all of this before, you may even have acted on it for a while but each of these 'tips' need to become part of who you are and how you operate on a daily basis. Being conscious of the decision to take less on and reminding yourself of WHY that's important to you (to have more time, energy, happiness!). Start living differently. It's actually your choice.
I'm soon to launch my first online Simplify and Strengthen programme designed to help busy mums create some space in their lives and begin to look after their own health. It'll include targetted core and whole body workouts, nutrition advice, online support, self-care and more but in a way that helps you create new habits and a new routine that will serve you for life. Reduce the overwhelm of health, fitness and life and give you back some energy.
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And remember to join me in the Facebook group Heather's Health Hub for weekly inspiration on fitness, food and mood for mums.