You can’t pour from an empty cup

30th January 2021 / Posted by Impressions

Self-care is important.

As a mum of 3 I’ve experienced it all; sleep deprivation, stress, a calamitous house, poor health.  As a mum of a child with additional needs that can quite often be multiplied.  But then all children can display ‘additional needs’ at times.

It doesn’t matter whether your child needs a nappy change, a cuddle, a boundary, another story, lunch, fresh air, clean clothes or anything else – all of this requires some sort of energy from us. 

Are we better able to give this care when we are exhausted, stressed, ill, anxious, or just fed up?  Or when we are calm, relaxed, present and ready to give?  We all know the answer to this so why do so many of us put ourselves last?

I’ve regularly ended a day with a glass of wine, and fallen asleep on the sofa, shattered having spent my day running around after everyone else without having a minute to myself.  I’ve regularly woken up tired and grumpy and taken it out on the kids when they aren’t ready for school in time or the classic – I can’t find my shoes/coat/lunch/turtle (not a real one although that would have been much more fun!) just as you about to leave the house.

It’s all about you

Several years ago I attended another excellent parent carer forum organised by Wigan Council.  I listened to a lady speak who talked to parents about ‘us’ and not ‘our kids’ which I though was a bit odd at the time.  She stopped me in my tracks with the line –

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” 

Look after yourself first.  That way the quality of care that you give gets better.  It’s the same as putting your own oxygen mask on when the plane is going down (and lets face it we have probably all experienced days when we feel like the plane is going down!) If you can’t breathe – you can’t help your child to.

It’s not just ‘feminist clap-trap’ as parents of my mum and Dad’s generation would say.  Self care helps with both mental and physical health.


What is self-care?

Self-care can take many forms.  My favourites:

Getting outside – you can’t beat a lung busting walk in the fresh air.

Yoga – I love ‘Yoga with Adriene on You Tube.  It’s now part of my non-negotiable morning routine.

Reading – I love being immersed in a good book (My current read is Girl, Woman, other by Bernadine Evaristo)

Writing – inspired by a podcast with Matthew McConaughey I’ve started journaling – I don’t do it religiously but if I’m struggling with something writing it out often helps.   If you aren’t sure what to write have a look through the questions here.

A bath – You can’t beat a bath after a long day– especially now we have a lock on the bathroom door so I can’t be interrupted by a small boy wanting a wee or a dog wanting to get in the bath! Music on, candles on, glass of vino, good book!

Meditation – Meditation is a great form of self-care – for me this can just mean sitting quietly for 5 minutes or it can be listening to an app.  I love sync tuition but there’s loads of others. Don’t underestimate the power of this.  Do you get most of you’re a-ha moments in the shower or when you are just about to fall off to sleep.  Ever wondered why?

Warm shower – getting into bed are a great way of making us feel relaxed which in turn releases dopamine.  The more dopamine that gets released the more creative we are.  Add to that the ‘incubation’ of a shower/bed can provide a barrier to distraction – allowing your subconscious thoughts to come to the fore without distraction often helps us some up with the solutions to problems, remember that name you had forgotten or solve a problem.  So taking five minutes out of your day a couple of times a day just to stop, close your eyes and think (best done with headphones on and away from the phone!) can re-set your energy, clarity and help you remember where you put the bloody car keys!!

Healthy food

I’m currently doing Veganuary and i’ve decided to carry it on a bit longer. Don’t worry I’m not a militant vegan (and if that appeals to you look up Daniel Sloss on You Tube sweary but hilarious)   Lots of people asked my why and the answer is mainly because I can – I haven’t eaten red meat all my adult life and so it’s an easy switch.  But is more about eating healthier – cooking fresh from scratch and having to think about it!  And it absolutely does make you feel better.  I have more energy, I’m sleeping better and I feel great.  But if eating vegan doesn’t float your boat then I’d recommend just eating more fresh veg –  greens – eat yer greens.   Bloody hell my mother was right!!

These are just some of mine – there’s plenty of others.  The most important thing to remember though is self-care isn’t selfish.  It’s actually about giving. When your cup overflows with blessings you simply have more to share.