As a mama, it can be incredibly hard to find a moment of time for yourself. Sometimes the bathroom is the only place you can be alone.
(And even there, you often find yourself with unexpected company…)
You know that more me-time would probably be good for you, but you can't work out how on earth to fit it in.
And when you think about stopping for a moment, that mean voice in your head tells you that you can’t stop because you’re just not 'good enough'.
There's too much on your 'to do' list, and someone else's needs are more important than your own.
It doesn't have to be like this. You can make more time for you. You just need a starter challenge so small that it feels possible. So we’ve come up with a pick and mix list of activities that will help you feel more positive and less stressed in just one minute.
Even better, if you just can't find one minute to be alone right now - you can encourage your kids to try these alongside you.
If you still need some encouragement, here's a bonus one minute video I made this week to inspire mums who need more space in their lives (it’s got space noises and everything…)
1. A one minute meditation
Set a timer on your phone for one minute. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. When thoughts come, and they will, don’t get annoyed, just breathe and practice letting them go again (I like to imagine the words being blown on through my mind by my breath as I breathe out…).
Yes, you can even do this on the loo if that’s the only moment of peace you can get for yourself right now.
Why: Meditation reduces stress, helps us focus, lowers blood pressure, improves self-awareness, and helps us sleep better.
2. A stress-busting singalong
Play a song you love and sing along with it, as loud as you dare.
If you need some ideas, some of our current favourite family singalong numbers are Shiny (Jamaine Clement), You’re The One That I Want (John Travolta, Olivia Newton John), We Will Rock You (Queen), Don’t Stop Believing (Glee version), Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen), No (Meghan Traynor). All of these also work well for a front room disco, see below…
Why: Singing lifts our spirits, connects us, keeps our heart healthy, and produces ‘feel good’ endorphins.
3. A front room disco
You can get extra bangs for your one minute buck, if you add a bit of dancing to your singalong.
A minute of joyful exercise can boost your mood straight away. Be as silly as you like (this a great one to do with the kids too).
Some songs we always love to dance to (the cheesier the better) are Happy (Pharell Williams), You’re Welcome (Dwayne Johnson), Can’t Stop The Feeling (Justin Timberlake), Blame it on the Boogie (The Jacksons), Shake it off (Taylor Swift), Sorry (Justin Beiber), and Dance to the Music (Sly and the Family Stone)
Why: Dancing is a great cardio workout that doesn’t need any special equipment, it realises feel-good chemicals, connects us to others, improves our balance and reduces the risk of dementia.
4. A doodle break
Give yourself just one minute to get creative with a bit of a speed doodle.
You could doodle a simple pattern (like the one on the left from Live Otherwise), doodle what's going on in your head right now (like these fab doodles from mums), draw what you've just been looking at, or just invent an abstract squiggle. You can colour it in or keep it simple.
Even in just 60 seconds you can get a little taste of the joy of being in the creative flow.
Why: doodling helps us to concentrate, stay present, generate ideas, and experience being in the creative flow (which is great for positivity and well-being), changing our brains for the better.
5. Mindfully indulgent chocolate eating
It's true. Eating chocolate really can be good for you (strictly speaking, it's dark chocolate that's good for you, but we're only eating a little bit here, so choose whatever you like, everything in moderation is OK...)
Give yourself a single piece of chocolate. Then take a whole 60 seconds to eat it - really noticing everything you can about the sensations of eating that single piece - from the texture as you hold it in your hand, to the smell, to the richness of the taste, and how long it lingers...
Eaten like this, chocolate can bring us right into the moment. Unsurprisingly, this is my favourite way of practicing mindfulness.
Why: Mindfulness lowers stress, helps us to be more objective, stay calm, release the guilt and feel more self compassion, and to fully experience our life as we live it.
Have a go right now
Well, you’re nearly at the end of today’s post, so now’s the time to choose which one minute activity you’re going to try first. (Or if you still haven't decided, you can head on over here to read part two.)
You're here, reading this. That means you've got a spare minute. So give yourself one more.
And when you’ve managed a minute of me-time from the list above, see if you can stretch it out again, and give yourself yet one minute more. Work your way up to five minutes of me-time for yourself.
Why? Because small steps can make a big difference. When we build up our me-time moments incrementally, each stage feels achievable. We’re more likely to stick at it, and we'll slowly find ourselves making much more space in our lives.
Your next step
Having had a first go at ‘speed relaxing for mums’, do you want more? Or even with a handy list of one minute ideas in front of you, are you still finding it hard to get started on claiming that tiny bit of me-time?
Pledge to give yourself 5 minutes of me-time a day for a week, and join us from 20 - 24 February for Five A Day: our online community experience. We’ll share simple inspiration and tasks like this within a small group of encouraging time-challenged mamas. And together, we’ll help you get there. Find out more and sign up.
Why? Trying to make a positive change alongside others provides social connection and reminds you that you’re not alone. It also provides vital accountability (checking in with other mamas as you all work on making more time for you) that keeps you motivated and engaged in the task at hand, helps you to notice and celebrate your successes - which in turn, spurs you on even further.
Let us know how you got on below.