Suzy Reading, who I describe as a self-care guru because I find her work and approach so spot on, spoke to me about the importance of having a new self-care toolkit when we become parents.
So, let’s shed some light on self-care and blow some barriers away. Coming from a multi-discipline background as a psychologist and an Australian personal trainer living in the UK, Suzy realised that using the body and movement was powerful in helping people create a change in moods states and help them live their best lives. By using movement, breath or yoga shapes she jokingly dubbed it ‘therapy by stealth’. Over the last few years there has been much more research to back what Suzy was intuitively and insightfully working with and we know movement can be therapeutic for our emotional health. Training as a yoga teacher further connected this mind-body work but it was becoming a mother which collided with the terminal illness of her father that really made self-care a passion. Suzy experienced first-hand that it doesn’t matter what’s come before, when life throws you a curve ball no-one is immune from energetic bankruptcy and the value of self-care really becomes apparent.
We all know that becoming a parent is a massive life adjustment that no-one is really ready for and the relentlessness of the role, no matter where we are in our journey is a time when we really need self-care, but because of all the external factors it can be a time when these self-care tools feel out of reach. Here are Suzy’s tips for overcoming those obstacles:
When we become parents we need are in greater need of self-care whilst simultaneously our pre-parenthood self-care toolkit can become inaccessible. We need a new one that is full of practices that take zero time, energy and expense. Suzy’s book The Self-Care Revolution is filled with quick and easy micro-moments of care that we can dot through our day, helping us cope with the daily stresses and demands.
So get well-versed with small rituals and skills that you can check-in with throughout the day such as zooming in on something you find captivating about your child like their long eyelashes – drink those details in. Or maybe a single yoga pose while you wait for the kettle to boil or Suzy’s favourite, some chicken wing shoulder rolls to release the tension and strain and also helping us breath better, and when you breathe better, you feel better.
Or try earthing the brow; placing the base of your thumbs into your forehead, a total reboot for your nervous system.
As parents we need a restorative, healing toolkit, whether it’s recovering from birth trauma or just grieving our previous identities and lives as we transition into being a parent, so we can savour the joyful moments and make peace with the tough times.
Moving our bodies helps us release the physical holding as we carry our babies around but also the emotional holding we carry as we hold space for our children and our families.
So often self-care is considered to be a Spa day or a night out with friends, and yes they are great but this kind of self-care is not about those big one-off moments, it’s about small daily nourishment that we can give ourselves permission to build into our lives, so it’s not another big thing we have to do.
Instead see if we can look at life through the lens of self-compassion, kindness, tenderness; how can you make everyday actions kinder – the way you dress, eat, move, breath, talk to yourself or your pre-bedtime ritual. Or piggy-back a nourishing action onto an everyday task, like a beautiful smelling hand-cream massaged into your hands after a nappy change or six mountain breaths after you go to the loo. This doesn’t need to be grand, elaborate or expensive, it’s self-care in its purest form; extending some tenderness and kindness to yourself.
When we give ourselves permission to do this as parents we are showing our children that they have permission to do this and that we are normal, fallible people too. These are the tools that allow us to show up in our lives as the people and parents we want to be.
Suzy’s new book Stand Tall Like A Mountain is about giving our children their own toolkit for resilience and emotional management, alongside all the other life skills we teach our kids. As parents so often we are learning at the same time as our kids, for many of us these tools weren’t modelled or shown to us. We also need to give age appropriate tools to our children empowering them with techniques to handle life’s ups and downs, rather than leaping in immediately to fix things ourselves.
So three things to take-away about self-care:
Pick micro-moments in our day for self-care
As we give ourselves permission to nourish ourselves we give our children permission to nourish themselves
We can empower our children with their own toolkit which is serves them in a bespoke way and is such a powerful life-skill to offer them
Suzy’s Number one top tip to start:
Work with your breath, something we do all day everyday and maybe add a mantra e.g. ‘I soften into this moment’ and try this with a relaxed upright posture.
These are things we can all do anywhere, anytime.
Self-care is healthcare, small changes make a big difference and as parents we need to keep our cups full in order to be able to give to our kids.
So we invite you to think about one small thing you can include each day to take care of yourself , come and share with us in the comments below and if you’re up for a challenge try this for 7 days and let us know how you get on and the changes you notice.
Suzy’s new Little Book of Self-Care is perfect for on the go and is available on 6thJune