Written by Ashley Oakes 

I began working on this blog by reading quotes about motherhood…although I am a mother, I still find it hard to really express motherhood succinctly. After a bit of research I now know that I won’t find a good articulation of my experience of motherhood by reading quotes on google – that may have been the most exhausting reading I have done in a while! A quick cursory search of “quotes about motherhood” unleashes a plethora of beautiful quotes idealizing the role of a mom. Enter into that kind of reading after a bad morning with your kids and the wave of guilt that will come with it could be quite overwhelming.  Although all of the quotes I read (or at least quite a lot) are true, very few reflect on any of the uglier truths about motherhood.  In my experience at least, not every moment of every day is utopian. There are certainly beautiful and touching moments between my son and I every day but there are also moments of frustration, boredom, stress and dirt.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it seems like a good time to talk a bit about self-care. Self-care is often talked about in the media around Mother’s Day encouraging you to take time for expensive spa treatments, weekends away with friends, or sign up for the latest on-trend fitness class.  However, when you define ‘self-care’ it is simply care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do something that nurtures you. Self-care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.

In an ideal situation, self-care would become a regular part of your life. It could be something you do on a daily or weekly basis that helped you reduce stress and find a few moments of quite reflection.  It could be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the news before the kids wake up or taking a bath in the evening once the kids are asleep. What you choose for your self-care should be something you enjoy and can look forward to, which will make it easier to become a part of your routine.

Below are a couple of my favourites:

Shinrin Yoku – Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world. Lucky for us, we live in the perfect place to practice this form of healing. The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved. In other words, go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses. Whether you spend 5 minutes a week or an hour a day in nature, remember the purpose is to reduce stress not create more; find the time that works for you.

Yoga– We all know the benefits of regular exercise and mindfulness practice and yoga certainly isn’t a new concept by any means, however practising yoga in a studio or gym can be very expensive and sometimes intimidating.  It can also be quite time consuming and the studio schedule may not work for everyone. Going back to the idea that even five minutes a day is beneficial I’d like to share with you one of my favourite websites www.doyogawithme.com. This website offers free guided yoga and meditation classes for beginners all the way to advanced practitioners with classes ranging from 5 minutes all the way up to 2 hours. All you need is a few minutes and space to put down a towel or yoga mat.

Reading – I love nothing more than sticking my nose in a book for hours at a time but rarely am I afforded the luxury to do this now. As a child, I would lose my self completely in a book or series and when whatever I was reading came to an end I would miss the characters, almost mourning for their company again.  In order to re-ignite this relationship with reading after having my son, I have been working to carve out time to spend reading.  One of my favourite activities to do with my son is read.  We read together every day and I hope he will cherish the memory of this as much as I will, but holding a book in my hand that is not filled with animation is what I truly relish. I may only fit in a few chapters a week but it helps spark my imagination and I am once again beginning to feel that childhood joy of escaping into the pages of a great book.

Spending time on ourselves doesn’t have to be extravagant.  Simple things throughout the day can have a profound impact on how we feel. On this mother’s day, show yourself a little bit of love and try to build in a few daily or weekly rituals for self-care; you will be amazed by how a few small moments will reflect positively on how you feel as well as positively impact your children.

I wish you all a wonderful Mother’s Day from all of us at Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society.