How are you doing?
Please, put everything down for a moment.
This is your reminder to tend to your own needs.
To remember that YOU are vital - you are holding such a lot right now, and that can be hard. This month is such a busy one for mothers - with so many different stresses and challenges alongside the joys.
Over here, I’m feeling pulled in multiple directions, on the edge of a throaty cold (no surprise there), but fighting it off with sea swimming and coffee - too much coffee.
I’m just about holding on to organising my bit of the Christmas celebration logistics - making sure everyone has what they need. There seem to be so many things to remember, along with extra competent parenting skills required to manage the kids excitement and their inability to sleep - and I’m finding that’s getting harder every day.
There’s a daily message from an elf to write for the kids to create a bit of Christmas magic to get their sleepy grumpy heads out of bed in the mornings. The daughter’s powered by a ‘pop up Christmas card’ mission that’s over-run the house, while the son spends every waking moment talking about what he’ll do with the Minecraft coins he wants for Christmas. The school choir’s just won an amazing award, which adds yet another event to the already jam-packed Christmas calendar...
In the gaps in between events, there’s script editing and Story of Mum work to be done, and the additional challenge of running a sales-based business (Sea Soul Blessings) in the Christmas shopping period (remind me why I thought that was a good idea…?).
Meanwhile, I’m also tying myself in knots trying to create a more sustainable Christmas - we’re not doing adult gifts this year, just the kids - so I’m trying to buy carefully and prevent myself doing any last minute panic buying for stockings (that seems to be where I usually come unstuck!).
I was doing pretty well at buying less, buying local, being more ethical and plastic-free… until I came face to face with the daughter’s greatest desire: a Girls’ World.
Looking for second hand Girls’ World online took me straight back to my own childhood Christmases - and remembering the pure joy of getting one of those myself. Soon, turning its blonde hair pink and purple… Sadly, I also realised that while I would love a retro Girls World, the whole styling of it would just look too freaky to a child who’s scared of ventriloquist dummies, so… amongst the recyclable wrapping paper, there will now also be a great big brand new plastic head. Compromise - a great Christmas strategy…
Do the best you can in the moment you’re in, and allow yourself some space to compromise. We all get to be imperfect, and flawed - to make mistakes, apologise for them, and get up and at it again. We can’t possibly get it right all the time, especially in the midst of overwhelm.
How about you? How much are you doing right now? I’d hazard a guess that it’s a lot - and that you’re not valuing all your efforts highly enough.
Remember, you’re doing all of this on top of all the usual stuff - which is hard enough to start with. And so often, we forget to pause in the ‘done’ instead of the ‘to do’. Can you pause to notice how much you are actually managing to get done - even as it feels like you’re not? Remind yourself that your needs matter too?
It’s not just me encouraging you to do that. At last month’s #somum retreat in Mamas’ Everyday Retreat, we talked about shifting our focus to what really matters, making time for ourselves, setting boundaries, and remembering that we’re not alone in the struggle. So I wanted to share the thoughts of some of those mums with you right here too.
To start with, here are some recommendations from other mums. We cope with the challenges of Christmas by….
- Lowering our expectations.
- Going gentle.
- Making some plans ahead of time.
- Remembering not to try and do too much in the run up to Christmas.
- Focusing on love, the conversations of loved ones, the hugs they bring, and the laughter with the disasters.
- Making Christmas about food and time together, rather than gifts.
- Being grateful for what we have in life, and realising our worries are small in the grand scheme of things.
- Remembering that our immediate family like the way we do things. If extended family don’t like what we’re doing, then that really isn’t our problem!.
- Remembering to breathe.
- Listening to music we love every day.
- Trying our best - knowing that it will be over, and the light will slowly start returning soon…
We all know that to cope well, we also need to look after ourselves - but that’s often easier said than done. So, for when you need some ideas and encouragement, maybe even some extra permission, to make time for you, here are some other mums’ thoughts on ways to do that…
- Find pockets of peace and quiet
- See friends, make memories, walk lots outside in wellies (in mud)!
- Get enough fresh air, and go to the sea
- Have a run on Christmas morning, in that lull between gift opening and lunch (“No one misses me and it just resets me for the rest of the day”).
- Spend less time on Facebook (“I've realised recently that I do compare myself to others even though I didn't think I did”).
- Plan a good mix of stuff for you, and things for you all as a family.
- Make plans with close friends, but don’t get involved in mad festive party excess drama.
- Take care of your health (“I’m seeing my GP next week about resuming antidepressants”).
- Let go of expectations (“I sometimes have this picture in my head of how something is going to be, and then when it inevitably isn't, I end up annoyed. I'm much better with it than I used to be, but it still catches me out especially at Christmas.”)
- Rest. Try to get into a good sleep routine. (“I have great ambitions about going to bed earlier, but it’s a really hard one for me, I really value the time I get when the kids are in bed, but also I am just knackered!”)
- Only say yes to what will bring lightness, protecting energy and quiet.
- Say no when you need to and don’t feel guilty.
- Take time for yourself. Every day.
- Being kind to yourself = being kind to others.
And last but not least, here are some words of encouragement shared by other mums to help us get through the challenges as they come.
These are words that we will probably all need to read at some point this month, so remember to come back to them when you most need them…
Dear fellow overwhelmed mum...
You’re not alone.
This whole season is really hard. But it's just a month. It will pass.
Don't put pressure on yourself to do everything or to be perfect.
Do what's important to you and let the rest go. Don’t get caught up in unnecessary details. Don’t over-stretch... it’s only a moment in time. Don't compare yourself to others. Do what YOU want to do, not what convention states.
Remember that you know what is best for you and your family. The best memories are of moments, not of gifts. Make it special in ways that mean something to you - don't worry what anyone else is doing. Build in time for some relaxation, and limit the time you spend over Christmas with people who don’t make you feel good about yourself.
Try to streamline the day, and only say yes to what brings YOU joy. Be boundaried about your needs, and know that spending lots of money and time with family who don't make you happy isn't what it's about - if you gently lay your boundaries, you can be strong and create happy memories without feeling obligated.
You are important, don’t forget about you. Be kind to yourself. It's your day too. Do things that make you happy and try to enjoy it, however hard that may feel. And if you don’t enjoy it, that’s OK too.
Don't go into debt just for a few days of the year. If possible, make rather than buy. But time spent with your most important people is worth more than anything material. Focus on what’s truly important and don’t get caught up in the media/commercial hype. Spend within your means, simplify plans, and try to switch off your adult brain and remember what made Christmas special for you as a child...not the mountains of gifts, but the feeling of love and togetherness, the magic of Christmas that we so often lose as adults. Children want your presence, they remember the small things, and it’s only one day! It’s the thoughtful gifts that matter!
It will be over and done before you know it and you want to remember it and have fond thoughts not stressful ones. Spend time with those you love, remember to breathe, and have fun!
With love from a whole lot of other overwhelmed mums like you xx
I hope that helps! Thank you so much to all of you that participated in last month’s chat, and shared this hard won wisdom with each other. It’s such good advice, I’ll certainly be taking it myself - and I’ll see you on the other side!
We don’t have a monthly online retreat this month, but we’ll be back in January, so pop Wednesday 15 January in your diary from 8.30 to 9.30pm in Mamas’ Everyday Retreat.
If you’re still looking for Christmas gifts for the women in your life (or yourself!) there are four tickets left for our day retreat in Penzance on 18 January 2020: Beautiful Bold Beginnings.
Together, we’ll welcome the new year and all its beautiful bold beginnings to come. There’ll be yoga with Leif, delicious food, vision boarding, simple practices to release what no longer serves us, and time to celebrate all we learnt in 2019. Along with lots of creative inspiration to move into 2020 feeling revitalised and clear. You would be so welcome!
If you’re in West Cornwall, I’ll be at the Eco Makers Market at Penzance’s beautiful Art Deco Outdoor Lido, Jubilee Pool on 15 December. I'll be sharing the latest sustainable box sets of Sea Soul Blessings here (that'll be the extra Christmas-busy business...!) We're donating 10% from every sale to Surfers Against Sewage - which is helping me to manage my climate anxiety... By the end of the year, I'm hoping we can raise a significant sum of money from sales to help protect our environment. You can find out more at www.seasoulblessings.com.
In the meantime, I’m sending you love and a big bold reminder that your happiness matters just as much as everyone else’s at this time of year. It matters all the time, in fact. Take time out to value all that you are doing, and all you bring to those you love - even in the moments when it’s all gone tits up.
Thank you for working so hard to create the magic of Christmas. We know how hard it can be - be extra kind to yourself.
To get these encouraging missives once a month direct to your mailbox over here.
May you feel BELONGING
The sea does not judge. It does not require evidence of your status and qualifications before it lets you in. Stepping into the sea, you are simply accepted. Amongst a magnificent diversity of creatures lies a whole world in which to know you are at home.
May your community be kindness. May you see strength in difference.
May you be accepted as you are. May you first belong to yourself.
Find more Sea Soul Blessings at www.seasoulblessings.com
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Monthly Retreat Party: Join us on Wednesday 15 January for our monthly #somum Mamas' Retreat Party in Mamas' Everyday Retreat.
Mamas' Everyday Retreat is a safe kind space for mamas to connect and support each other. You can expect much me-time encouragement, compassionate conversation, gentle motivation, and surprise treats.
If you're not already a member, ask to join the group and we'll add you.
Day Retreat: Beautiful Bold Beginnings: Join us in Penzance on Saturday 18 January 2020. Welcome the new year and all its beautiful bold beginnings, with a group of inspiring and supportive women.
There will be yoga, delicious food, vision boarding, simple practices to release what no longer serves us, and time to celebrate all we learnt in 2019. Along with lots of creative inspiration to move into 2020 feeling revitalised and clear. Buy tickets
Sea Soul Blessings: Our inspirational cards and guidebook are Pippa's coaching-in-a box.
They use the power of the sea to inspire positive change, and help you to practice being kinder to yourself - in just two minutes a day.
Our latest version of Sea Soul Blessings is plastic-free, vegan, fully recyclable and sustainable.
£21 for a box set
“I carry my Sea Soul Blessings around with me - you never know when you'll need that moment of affirmation, encouragement or guidance to sooth and reassure your soul. These are wonderfully crafted and beautifully scripted blessings to help you make sense out of the sea mist. They are made by a lovely lady who has poured love into them and that love carries through.” Charlotte