How I practise self-care with a toddler onboard
Libby is a best selling health and fitness author, speaker and presenter. She’s a former trainer for Channel 10’s “The Biggest Loser: Transformed” and co-founder of healthy snacking company Chief Nutrition which has two brands, Chief Bar and Beauty Food. She’s also the founder of dance-inspired group fitness studio The Upbeat and co-founder of business retreats Nurture Her and Nurture 360.
Let’s be honest, avoiding stress while working on a series of small businesses and operating on minimal sleep with a very busy toddler who’s often up and down all night (yep, all that sleep training never really stuck with our girl!) is next to impossible, but I definitely have a series of coping strategies that help me stay happy and healthy. Here are my go-tos:
Practise self-care with sleep (stay with me here) – without enough sleep, everything else just feels overwhelming, so on the days I start work early (I’m talking a 4:30 am alarm clock here), knowing that Izzy will be up and down a number of times overnight, I go to bed super early with her so I get maximum time in bed. I’ll bath her and head to bed for stories from 7:30, and we’re both asleep by 8 or so. It’s the only way to stay sharp the next day!
I personally LOVE my girl gang at The Upbeat, which is my music-driven fitness studio, it’s so much fun and such a release to have a laugh and then get sweaty with a great workout and awesome music, but if your time’s too tight for that, it can be as simple as getting you and your kids out of the house for a quick walk around the block, ideally in nature. Our family LOVES night walks after dinner, they are so much fun and perfect at this time of year – there’s something magical about being outside playing, or park hopping, or just wandering around talking after dark, it’s a great bonding experience, puts a stop to TV time, and ticks your movement box all at once!
I practise self-care by focusing on being present and really relating to Izzy – motherhood can seem overwhelming, and it helps a lot when I consciously think “soak this moment up, it’ll be gone before you know it, relate to her and learn from her for a moment”. It’s not possible all the time, but multiple times a day I love really zooming in on Izzy and relating on her level, devices and distractions aside, and getting into her world. There’s something about it that just fills me with gratitude and also calms and centres her. I once heard an expert talk about how, when you’re playing a game with your child that kinda bores you (like playing doctors or doing a particular puzzle for the 50th time), it helps to not focus on the task, but on watching your child and noticing what about that game or book really lights them up, what they’re learning or taking from it… so you’re observing and appreciating and learning about them, rather than a game that’s made for people 30+ years younger than you!
Most of my stress comes from dealing with two stressors at the same time. For example, my phone is telling me someone needs me, and my baby needs me too = overload and tears (mine). Most things don’t need your immediate attention, schedule some phone-free time, or at least put it on silent for a decent stretch of time each day. I initially tried to juggle both worlds, but now I just let go of business entirely when I’m with Izzy and it feels so much better. Some things slip through the cracks but… I’ve figured out that I can live with that!
Being hangry = stressful and it’s so easy to grab a cookie and a cracker and a piece of toast on the run, but there’s nothing in there that’s going to help your body and brain and emotions function better, it’s important to make time to eat real, good food with plenty of nutrients. This is a priority for me, but I don’t eat fancy things – I’m a crap cook, so I steam or bake a bunch of things, pan fry some protein, or rustle up a smoothie and we’re good to go! If I’m really craving a sweet treat, I’ll grab a Beauty Food Collagen Cookie as this fulfils any cravings, without overloading on sugar. Other snacks typically use dried fruit such as dates as their binding agent which creates a product full of sugar (often 25% sugar or more!), or they’re made using artificial fillers, thickeners and sweeteners which can play havoc with your hormones and destroy your health. Getting enough protein is key to energy, so aim for about one gram per kilogram of bodyweight.
Planning fun times together and apart. I LOVE researching great new parks or toddler-friendly events, pools in different suburbs, just new experiences for Izzy and I to experience together on my days with her, because otherwise being a mum can get, well, kinda repetitive, so I love having something to look forward to with her, and it helps with my mindset too!
Book in time for myself to just BE, not a mum or a wife or a business owner, just ME – a massage, a float tank, a sauna, a walk, or just an hour on the beach reading a book. I often forget to take this time but when I get frustrated, I know it’s TIME! And just an hour really tops me up so much.
Reading over this list, it really is the simple things in life when it comes to practise self-care, isn’t it 😉