Sometimes, you need to prioritise your time with those people and things that are most important to you. As mums we all feel guilty for doing anything other than parenting. But when we are spending Us Time with our kid’s, ironically, we tend to feel guilty for neglecting our other chores.
But even cleaning is clutter.
In my experience, dust never disappears, but our children’s youth does.
There’s always going to be laundry in the basket, dishes in the sink, and dust on the TV.
As long as we are alive, it never ends, so we needn’t feel the housework has to be done before we enjoy time with our children. I know it’s embarrassing when an unexpected visitor turns up and the house is a mess, but living life is more important than looking good to others. Besides, if those visitors are important in our lives, then they won’t mind we prioritise spending time with our children over a tidy house sometimes.
Our children will not always need us like they do now, but the time we spend with them today, will make a big difference that will stay with them for a lifetime, unlike that worn-out jumper that always needs washing and ironing.
We can vacuum and polish until our heart’s content when our children have grown up and flown the nest.
Admittedly, we won’t have as much mess then, but who will we be keeping the house clean and tidy for?
An empty house is just a house, not a home.
Our homes are our family space to feel safe, relax, and play in. Children need enough space for playing with their toys and belongings. Sometimes, games, puzzles, dolls, and figures need to be left out in order for them to pick up playing where they left off last.
They don’t want a Feng Shuied bedroom with books and toys neatly stored away like ornaments just to look at. That’s just a waste of money. And useless, unused boxes of toys gathering dust, just create more unnecessary cleaning.
Enjoy some guilt free ‘Us Time’ playing today because toys that are loved and used often don’t gather dust, only memories.
Mum guilt will never leave us alone, no matter what we do. If we work to make a better life for our children, we feel guilty we aren’t around enough, if we stay home dedicating all our time and attention to them, we feel guilty we can’t afford to give them what everyone else has.
We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
But why should we feel guilty for pursuing our own interests and having a life of our own?
Going to work to progress our careers or make money, is part of Proactive Parenting and essential to a healthy, balanced life. Working helps us to increase our own self-esteem and confidence and gives us much needed goals.
And daily U Time for ourselves to join the gym, have a bath, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine or massage, go out for a meal or for a manicure, or pursue a hobby or course, is essential to our overall wellbeing.
Life is not just about working or raising a family. We get one life and fun should be a part of it.
A GUILTY BUSINESS
Yet, being a parent can be a guilty business if we let it. It’s usually the most loving parents amongst us who experience it the most. If only we could extend that love onto ourselves more often than guilt?
And if only our children felt this guilty whenever they woke us up in the middle of the night for no reason, or whenever they humiliated us with a tantrum in a busy supermarket. But they don’t. (You can read my latest article on managing tantrums –BIG Little Feelings, in the Winter edition of mums and tots magazine on sale now.)
A NICE STYLE
No parent ever wants to see their child upset, and our children know this and can be very clever and creative in instilling us, with a guilty complex. So too can our boss, spouse, and even our own parents.
It’s a technique, and each will have their own style;
An angry style, ‘It’s all your fault!’
A feeling sorry for themselves, ‘It’s all my fault.’
Or the subtle style, done in a nice, yet underhanded way.
My daughter had a nice style. Instead of risking a ‘no’ and asking me outright for whatever she wanted, she nicely instiled guilt before-hand.
Such as the time she said to me;
‘Oh, Mum can you…? Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter.’
‘What?’ I asked, intrigued, in the middle of doing something else.
‘Well, I was going to ask if you would paint my nails, but I know you’re too busy and I don’t want to take up your time when you could be doing something more important.’
Horrified by her words, I instantly dropped what I was doing and happily painted all of her little fingernails, as I explained that I was never too busy to do anything for her.
In fact, I told her I enjoyed doing it.
It was only later as I guiltily mulled it over with my husband, that I realized I had nothing to feel guilty about.
He pointed out to me that my daughter knew exactly what she was doing, and that what she said would make me feel guilty enough to do what she wanted me to do.
I’d fallen for the guilt trip, even though I’d done her nails for her and had nothing to feel guilty about, yet, I was still carrying those words ‘Too busy’ with me, while indulging in my guilty complex hours later.
AN ENDLESS LIST
Mums feel guilty about almost anything and everything.
Guilty about working, not working, spending money on yourself, having a childfree night out, putting your child in childcare, saying ‘No’ to your child when they want something, telling them off/being too strict or too soft, not being able to afford the Christmas presents they want, choosing the wrong school, Mum/Dad for them, living in the wrong area, not taking them out on day trips/holidays or spending enough quality time with them, not realizing they were ill/being bullied/underachieving at school, making them do homework, not being able to make their school sports day/Christmas concert, etc…etc…
Boring I know, but that guilty list is endless as a parent.
Feel free to carry on with your own long list, if you feel in the mood for making yourself feel like an awful parent.
In fact, you may find this exercise cathartic, even funny, who knows, let’s try it?
Grab a pen and notebook and a cuppa while you’re indulging in some guilty ‘U Time’.
Now, list as many things that you either have or have not done for your child, or about your role as a parent, as you can manage in the space of five minutes that makes you feel guilty.
Think of everything that pricks at your conscience, tugs at your heartstrings, or tickles you as much as a bash on your funny bone. Go on, indulge in your guiltiness until you feel really bad. Let all that guilt flow, get it all out of you, out of your head and onto paper.
And then …. rip that lists up into tiny pieces and let it all go. Throw it away with all the other useless rubbish in the bin. Make sure you put it in the rubbish bin and not the recycling though; you don’t want it coming back in some other form one day. You want it out of your life for good, out where it belongs with the rest of the rubbish, in the refuse dump until it disintegrates.
Guilt’s a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, channell your energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause you guilt.
Start by trying this next guilt busting exercise;
Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?
You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?
Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.
YOU NEED U TIME.
We all need time and space away from our children occasionally, to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands. Whether that’s a night out with friends or a weekend away with our partner.
The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it wouldn’t be enough. Their need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try or how much time we dedicate to them.
It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.
CHILDREN NEED U TIME TOO!
We never need to feel guilty, as children also need U Time for themselves too.
Time with their own thoughts to play, ponder, and daydream is vital.
So, what? Maybe you do work more than most building a career or business to support you family or dreams, or maybe you choose to stay home and bake cakes all day with your little ones. It’s your life, it’s your choice, and neither one is right or wrong.
2022 marks the beginning of a new guiltless way of living, where we stop punishing ourselves. It’s time to realise your value and what you contribute, rather than focusing on what’s missing or wrong. Guilt just doesn’t serve us or our children, so we don’t need it sucking our energy any longer.
The word Recreation means to recreate, and we can do that as much as children love to, actually, we’re re-creating our lives every day, but we are often unaware that we are doing so. Sometimes, this means we create experiences that are not always fun or just, well …. humdrum.
But if we can create the boring unwanted stuff, then it stands to reason we can also create more fun in our lives too.
Children are master creators with vivid, unlimited imaginations that allow them to become anything and anyone, from a random object such as a chair to an Alien from Outer Space, nothing is off limits in their play.
It’s this natural ability to shut off reality and enter play that offers them an essential form of escapism. A safe haven from stress, anxiety, and worry. Helping them to make sense of events and the world they live in, and to digest and learn new concepts at their own pace.
Recreation can be called many things such as; leisure, hobby, pastime, exercise, play, activity, amusement, sport, even work!
But play never actually feels like hard work.
How we feel and our concept of time, is how we can differentiate real play, from any other experience.
Play has the ability to immerse and stimulate to the point we lose track of all time and reality. Play throws caution to the wind and allows anyone at any time, to do anything, no matter how silly or unconventional.
Regardless of what we do with our children, if we are having fun, then we’re playing. It’s not the activity that counts, it’s how we feel when we do it.
Genuine play always feels good as it replaces control for freedom, anxiety for laughter, and learning for entertainment.
When was the last time you actually played?
U Time is not a luxury but a daily necessity that you not only deserve but NEED.
Do you work so hard that you forget to make time to rest and recuperate?
Do you feel guilty spending time or money on yourself?
If you put U time off, you risk burning out, which actually stops you from working efficiently, productively or to the best of your ability.
When this happens not only will your work suffer but so will you and your family. Do something today just for you, that makes you feel good. Book that massage or hairdressers appointment, buy that new book or album you would like to listen to and relax.
🧘♀️ If you need help scheduling U TIME or would like some R & R, why not book a Mumatherapy session today and receive 20% off any booking for a Friday or Saturday in September. There’s also PMR (PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION) sessions FOR ONLY £25 during September if you book now using code JULY-PMR.
What does PMR do for you?
It’s like a massage for your mind.
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A chance for us to shut off that constant mental chatter, stress, worry, work and woe.
A time to do those things we love to do, for the sheer enjoyment of doing them.
Freedom to indulge in our pleasures and be with those special people we love?
Hang on…. What do you mean you wish?
What will you be doing this weekend if not any or all of the above?
We all deserve a break, even You.
Work and Worries Never End!
There’s always going to be laundry in the basket and an un-surmountable pile of paperwork or emails harassing us. Our work doesn’t cease to exist because it’s the weekend either. And those work issues can dwell in our minds constantly if we let them, taking up our time and attention, even on our days off.
But when are we free to enjoy life and those we love most?
Totally free to be in the moment and do nothing without feeling guilty?
It’s a rare occasion for most of us.
But today if you only do one thing, free your mind with some U Time.
We all know this is easier said than done, but when we consciously make space and time just for U Time, like we would cooking tea for the kids or washing the school uniforms, then we allow ourselves the chance to relax into the present moment. When we focus on the moment, this very minute that we are currently experiencing, we can’t ruminate on the past or worry about the un-lived future. Although that seems so obviously basic, it eludes us all.
We get caught up in the humdrum, daily dramas of our everyday lives. The unimportant, insignificant details, that cloud our true purpose and reality.
Robbing us of our peace of mind that we are all seeking but never find for long.
If only we could just temporarily let go and have five minutes peace?
Why not try?
Find a space that’s relaxing, quiet and away from all distraction’s, switch off your electronic devices and phones.
I have a space in my home where I place crystals, stones and candles. When I spend U Time there I let go of everything that’s mentally cluttering up my head and watch the fog drift away. Finding things that calm you or bring you joy will help, you don’t need buddha’s or crystals, if they aren’t your thing listen to a water feature or look at a painting, smell some aromatherapy oils, anything you feel comfortable with that signals to you this is U Time.
Make sure no one will disturb you and either sit or lay down somewhere, in a nice comfortable position. Surround yourself with cushions or soft warm blankets if that helps?
And take in some slow deep breathes.
Feel where your tension resides in your body?
We are all different, one person may carry their tension in their neck and shoulders, another in their jaws or buttocks. Wherever it feels uncomfortable breathe into it, focusing on that place, and allow it to release, as you breathe out gently and slowly.
There’s no -where to go, nothing to do, and no one to see, so you are absolutely free.
Free your mind of mental chatter and you’ll free your muscles of tense matter.
This is ‘U Time’ feel free to let go and relax. You can’t do this wrong, you just breathe.
Melt into whatever is supporting your body and just keep breathing, and as you do so, say to yourself;
Don’t just say the words, feel them, like a warm, comforting sensation flowing through you.
Practice this letting go and breathing to free your mind, until you get bored.
But I warn you, this state of pure relaxation and freedom of thought is addictive and hard to break, but it’s a great habit to make.
So, …. how will you spend your weekend now?
If you would like some help learning to relax and let go, then book your free Mumatherapy Consultation today! All bookings for September 2021 made in May will receive a 20% discount, please quote Muma May when booking.
Becoming vegetarian is something I’ve thought deeply about recently. When coaching clients, removing meat from ones diet and eating more fruit and veg is something I always promote for health, weight loss and longevity. But one question I was recently asked by a soon to be mum was –
‘Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?’
So to answer this question is Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory. Warning – there’s mouth watering food pics from Stem + Glory throughout this post!
Veganism on its own tends to attract advice and comment from family, friends and so called ‘experts’, albeit largely well-meaning. It’s interesting that when you throw vegan pregnancy into the mix, and suddenly it becomes about moral choices. Veganism is ok it seems when it’s our own choice, but can be questioned when we are dealing with an unborn child. The idea that we are omnivorous and therefore a vegan diet cannot be safe in pregnancy is a fairly widely held view.
This is a view that I, and many others, wholeheartedly disagree with. My own experience with being vegan during pregnancy is that it was completely normal. I was almost 40 when I became pregnant with my first daughter. I was very fit and healthy. My diet at that time consisted of mainly vegetables, small amounts of (mainly) wholegrains, lots of tofu, lentils, nuts, seeds and beans, and I continued eating in exactly the same way throughout my pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, no cravings, no complications, no deficiencies and delivered both my children safely at home. I said to myself when I first became pregnant that if I craved something in pregnancy, then I would eat it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any cravings.
When writing this article I started wondering if my experience was an isolated one, or if in fact many vegan women experience completely problem-free pregnancies. I spoke to seven women who had been vegan through pregnancy (sometimes multiple pregnancies), and here is what they told me:
Can you get the right nutrition?
All of the vegan women I spoke to were very well researched on the subject of vegan nutrition. They were all aware of the need to increase protein intake in pregnancy by 10-20%, and did so with greater attention to eating balanced meals. Not all of them ate protein rich foods such as tofu, with many preferring natural, pulses, grains and vegetables. One of the women had a pre-existing iron deficiency which was managed through pregnancy, but none of the others developed an iron deficiency. One of the women not taking supplements increased her iron levels during pregnancy.
It is recommended in pregnancy for all mothers to take folic acid. With regard to vegan pregnancy it’s also recommended to take B12 and vitamin D. For both pregnancies, I did take a pregnancy multivitamin, and the recommended folic acid. Half of the women I spoke to did take supplements, but half did not, only taking the recommended folic acid.
Angie, who was pregnant twice 33 and 40 years ago, and has raised four vegan children, says she “just ate sensibly, mainly fruit and veg. I’d been vegan for 13 years before I became pregnant and had never been unwell so assumed all was ok.”
This was echoed by Lee who has been through two pregnancies; “Didn’t even think about nutrition, I just followed what my body craved and had zero nutritional issues.”
Helen, who has been vegan for many years, said: “I always try to follow a balanced diet. Supplements are recommended to pregnant people of all persuasions. I took vegan vitamins and iron before, during and after my pregnancy.”
Emma, who had been vegan for five years and continued to be vegan throughout her entire pregnancy said: “My iron levels were tested as standard and I was told the results were fantastic (without supplementation). I only supplemented folic acid, an algal oil omega 3, spirulina (for B12) and a probiotic, all of which would be useful to supplement in any pregnancy, whatever the diet. The omega 3 was a ‘top up’ since I was already consuming foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds etc. Throughout my pregnancy I ensured I was receiving the correct nutrition in the same way anybody would, I consumed a healthy diet. I don’t like the way people like to make out that vegans are thinking at every meal about where they are going to get certain nutrients from, it’s nonsense, no one does that.”
Neither myself nor any of the women I spoke to reported any nutritional issues during their pregnancies.
What are good vegan foods in pregnancy?
The women I spoke to also all followed a wholefood natural diet during pregnancy. None experienced cravings! Two of the seven experienced severe morning sickness and lived on toast for the first trimester. Two were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the second trimester which they managed successfully on a wholefood vegan diet.
Soups and stews were frequently mentioned as ‘go to’ meals. Often mentioned were Marmite, tofu, tempeh, brown rice, aduki beans, lots of fresh organic veg, nuts, miso soup, peppermint tea and ginger.
Helen opted for bland but healthy: “When I had morning (all day) sickness I ate a lot of baked potatoes, as I didn’t fancy much else. Luckily potatoes have vitamins in the skin, and so I felt they were better than other bland things. I supplemented potatoes with vitamins and iron. I also remember eating dried mangoes, cucumber, and miso at some points, and drinking orange juice. When I recovered from the morning sickness, I ate a lot of everything.”
For Holly who was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester, nut butters were a life saver due to their high fat/protein and low carb content.
Danielle developed cholestasis in her second trimester which meant she could only eat low fat foods “so the vegan diet was great for this”.
Tracey who had severe morning sickness treated it with “lots of miso soup, peppermint tea, fennel seeds & crystallised ginger”.
Atma was vegetarian when she became pregnant, but took the decision to go vegan. “Now I was carrying my own child it brought the ethics of the dairy trade to the forefront of my mind, I was unable to ignore it any more” Atma had previously studied macrobiotics, and when diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester was able to control the diabetes by applying macrobiotic principles. Not only did her bloods stabilise, but she felt happier, healthier and more clear headed than ever before.
Do pregnant vegans feel healthy?
They do! None of the women I spoke to had any issues with energy levels, and outside of the complications already mentioned, without exception all the women felt healthy during pregnancy. They felt the gestational diabetes was easier to manage on a vegan diet.
Emma said she continued to be vegan whilst breastfeeding and had a wonderful pregnancy with no issues whatsoever: “I wasn’t sick once, I had no cravings, I felt great the whole time, had energy, my skin was the best it’s ever been and I continued to work-out throughout the entire pregnancy. Postpartum I was told I had great colostrum, since my baby only lost 70g initially and I had a plentiful supply of milk, the health visitor actually said I had too much!”
Danielle: “I am very strong and the muscle of the household, even when pregnant if something needs lifting, I’m your girl”. I echo this and was practising and teaching ashtanga yoga until days before I had my first child, and full of energy throughout both pregnancies.
What do the health professionals think?
Now this really did give me a pleasant surprise. Every single one of the women I spoke to remarked on how helpful and understanding their health care team were of their vegan diet. Not one of them, including those with gestational diabetes, was advised to eat animal products.
Helen’s experience was consistently positive: “Two health professionals guessed I was vegan and were highly supportive. My first midwife appointment went something like this: ‘Have you read the list of things you need to stop?’ ‘Yes. I don’t smoke or drink or eat those things anyway.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Excellent, I won’t need to persuade you to eat more fruit and vegetables.’ The second was a health visitor at my child’s one-year review. The conversation went something like this: ‘What is your child’s favourite food?’ ‘Tofu.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Please tell me which cheese to buy. What is the best milk? Where do you eat out?’
Emma: “I didn’t tell the midwives that I was vegan because I expected a negative response that I didn’t want to have to deal with at that time. However, in hospital after the birth the team were very supportive in providing me with decent vegan food.”
Says Che; “in my first pregnancy one of my Midwives was vegan herself and brought vegan biscuits to the antenatal classes. Second time the midwife was very supportive and unphased by the veganism. If anything, my GP and Midwives said ‘well, you don’t eat any of the stuff you have to avoid anyway so that’s good’.”
Two out of the seven women I spoke to however remarked on how terrible the vegan options were whilst they were in hospital!
So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t let the myth that we need animal products put you off sticking to your plant-based diet. Eating a healthy vegan diet during your pregnancy can be good for you and your baby – and as there aren’t any vegan foods that are on the ‘no go’ list during pregnancy, you won’t have to give anything up either.
Thank you for contributing this very interesting piece Louise.
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge. www.stemandglory.uk Lets hope these restaurants find their way to Wales, the food looks amazing.
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