Hello! My name is Michelle. I’m 36 and a self-employed, work- from- home Mom.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I live in Birmingham with my mister, Mitchell and our 3 children Jayden (13), Lollie-Rae (6) & River Hendrix (3). I run a small crochet and mama merchandise business called Alabama Pie (since 2014), and I also have a chronic illness which requires me to take over 60 tablets a day and annual visits to USA for treatment. Life is hectic but wholesome!
If you were to choose one word to describe your daily life, what would it be?
Squeezed! I feel like my day is being squeezed to fit into 24 hours! Sometimes I feel like I’m being squeezed!
Mitchell calls me a ‘potterer’ because I’m always floating about doing something. When we first got together he asked me what I was doing and I said, ‘just having a potter’! And it stuck.
Every day is a busy day. I’m sure all Mama’s can relate to that.
Describe the last time you did something that made your soul happy? How often do you do that thing?
For me personally, I struggle to have a meaningful ‘me time’ experience whilst I’m at home. Between natural distraction and mama guilt, it ends up being rushed or dismissed. I think the last time I felt soul happy and alone during some me-time was when I got a tattoo on my leg last month. I enjoyed the adult conversation with the tattoo artist Katie and doing something for myself felt great. I bizarrely find tattoos quite therapeutic. You know you’re an exhausted mama when the thought of being poked with needles whilst lying down is a welcoming break! And besides, no kiddos are allowed in the studio!
I try to find this level of relaxation mixed with excitement regularly… but not always via a tattoo studio!
How do you feel when you are regularly carving out time for yourself compared to not?
What is your definition of me-time now that you are a mum?
Fortunately, Mitchell encourages me to have time to myself so I don’t experience guilt like I once did. Nothing worse than spending your child-free hours beating yourself up for choosing to be away from your babies!
When time passes without time being made for myself I don’t feel like I need it. I plough through my days forgetting me-time is an option and go into wonder woman mode. It’s only when I have that time do I then realise how much it was needed! A bit like when you don’t think you’re hungry but when you begin eating the meal in front of you, you become starving!
I most definitely function better when me-time has been had so regular seems to be key. I’m more alert and ready to take the world on again. Batteries recharged. Everyone benefits. You know the drill!
My definition of me-time now I’m a mama has been tweaked somewhat! For example, My friends are mostly behind a screen nowadays! I belong to a Facebook mama gang called ‘PMUK’ and I absolutely love how I can pop in and out of the group (whether I have a few minutes whilst on the loo at midday or I’m up for an hour unable to sleep at 3 am!), and there’s always someone there. I’ve made lifelong friendships and have attended mama meet-ups… meaning that some of them are now actual flesh friends! I know spending time on our phones has become a bit of a taboo subject and it can be seen as lazy and antisocial but I think we need to look at the bigger picture here. My phone houses a whole community of friends for me. Some live overseas and others are just down the road but as a group full of mamas we Identify that we’re not all ‘ladies of leisure’ and able to do brunch every day and have spa weekends. We send mail to one another. We donate money to help those of us in need when things are tough and we post things that are guaranteed to build up the lowest of moods. In a way, we are preserving our friendships for a time when we can venture out. Keeping them safe! Maybe we’ll all retire together and share an old people’s home, who knows!
What are your 3 favourite ways to practice self-care?
1. Sit in a cafe alone. Just me and a coffee. Spot of people watching. I almost always get talking to someone and that’s ok. I believe these natural conversations that strangers bring are all for a reason and I always take something from them. One lady told me how her parents always mocked her for talking to people she didn’t know and now she’s in her 40’s and realises that’s why she’s so positive and they’re not. She made me smile. I could relate. My Mother always tells me, ‘You tell people too much’! I wish I had the time Ma!
2. Listening to my favourite music… cranked up, (earphone’s required if you have a sleeping baby!) and singing. Not humming. I mean really giving it the Mariah Carey hands! I can’t sing to a standard that I’d wish for anyone to listen in on my performance but it’s always made me feel so good. My voice rocks in the shower but again, I wouldn’t wish for an audience! My go-to band is Pink Floyd and my guilty pleasure album is George Michael’s greatest hits!
3. I’m guessing you’re expecting some sort of hygiene routine to be my number three but baths and makeup don’t really soothe me or give me much enjoyment.
My final favourite way to practice self-care is allowing myself to shut my eyes in the daytime. I used to associate it with laziness and even after having my babies I was unable to ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ if it was during the day. So this one may be a little dull to many mamas but for me, it’s still something I’m battling with allowing myself to do. Therefore it’s a treat.
In your opinion, why is prioritising self-care in your day-to-day important?
If we can agree that motherhood can be compared to a full-time job then we can see why breaks are so important! For us and our employers. I guess our babies are our employers!
After having my eldest almost 14 years ago I was caught up in the notion that a mother shouldn’t need an identity or time alone. I didn’t recognise myself mentally or physically and didn’t particularly care either. I wasted my 20’s believing that as I was a mama I didn’t need to be Michelle too. In fact, I genuinely didn’t know you could have that balance. I’m now 36 and feel like I’m a Mama called Michelle. My self-esteem and confidence has peaked as a result of this. Surely everybody benefits from this? I want my children to experience this level of self-love from now. And they do. Practice what you preach!
What are your top tips to cut yourself some slack and make time for you that could benefit another mother?
Ok, so I respond well to rewards. They’re not just for our kiddos! I break down my days’ tasks and goals into manageable chunks (I have a love for chalkboards and notepads) and allow myself to find time to sit down and do whatever it is that I consider me-time on that day.
Having said that, some days it is ok to not aspire to achieve anything! It’s ok to get up and leave the housework for another day. Be spontaneous and take time away from the mundane routine.
My final tip I guess is to learn to ask for help. Before you skip past this tip because you think it’s not necessary or even allowed, think back to your childhood. Did anyone ever help your parents out? I know I was always at my Grandparents. I consider myself to be raised by 4 adults! My Mom, Dad, Nan and Grandad all cared for me. I’m so glad my Mom needed help because that encouraged me to have the most precious relationship with my grandparents. Asking for help doesn’t have to come in the form of, ‘Please, I’m not coping’! Whether it’s an extra few hours at nursery/childminders, asking Aunts and Uncles or Grandparents, I personally believe it’s a positive thing for everyone involved.
Positivity attracts positivity is my mantra. It’s all connected. x