When the girls were little I used to love to read the the story ‘Five Minutes Peace’, by Jill Murphy, to them.
In the story Mrs Large tries on countless occasions to sneak away just to get five minutes peace from her busy and chaotic life with her 3 children. No matter what she tried and how quietly she left the room, they would track her down and join her, practising their reading or recorder playing! She totalled 3 minutes and 45 seconds of peace at the end of the book, before they joined her once again.
I used to think that if I read it to the girls often enough, they would somehow get the hint that sometimes I needed just five minutes peace, to myself - needless to say they didn’t get the hint!
Now I realise that this was the first steps of me recognising the importance of self-care. However, I often felt guilty about leaving them to play, that I was neglecting my duties of being a mum, and would chastise myself for being a selfish or bad mum, so rarely allowed myself this time.
On reflection, I now realise that without sometimes grabbing just 3 minutes and 45 seconds of peace to myself I would have been grumpy (grumpier), impatient and not much fun to be with!
In this busy life, especially as a parent; whether we go out to work or are a stay at home parent, it can all get too much. We need to factor in down time for ourselves, a time to chill, do something for ourselves, recharge our batteries which in turn enables us to continue being able to give to the little people (and adults) in our lives who need us.
Establishing bedtime routines are so beneficial. Little people need sleep. Starting from the outset - even as a newborn - can help your little person feel safe and secure, they know no different and you have started to introduce boundaries and routines that will become part of the rhythms of your family life.
Another benefit is that once your little person is in bed this gives you (and your partner) some grown-up time. This can be simply sharing what has happened in your day, watching TV - other than cartoons or CBBC! It allows time to be together without the children, nurturing your relationship, which can all too often be put on the back burner when we have young children.
What can I do?
Start doing something that you enjoy doing just for you. It isn’t selfish, it’s important. It gives you time for you, preventing burn-out, feelings of low self worth, and feelings of generally being overwhelmed. It also enables you to remember who you are - not just your child’s parent. You are you!
Stuck for ideas?
This could be soaking in a bath filled with bubbles, cooking for pleasure, meditating, going for a run or bike ride, listening to music, catching up with friends or simply immersing yourself in a good book. As a couple, why not go on a date night? Invest time in one another too.
Children learn by example, perhaps self-care could become part of every day life (or just once a week), a time when everyone gets to have their own bit of chill out, time away from screens and outside distractions. Time to rediscover who they are and recharge their batteries for busy family life.
Anything for just five Minutes Peace.
I am a counsellor who wants to empower individuals to be the best version of themselves.