This week in college we were talking about Ethics and the BACP Ethical Framework for counsellors. Whilst all very interesting (I assure you), I had to laugh when I was reading it, as it got me thinking – imagine if we as mothers and parents had a code of ethics we had to adhere to, in order to be “fit for practice”! I think with how nuts and ratted our days get sometimes, we would all be in breach of it on an almost daily, if not weekly basis!

It also got me thinking, on a more serious note, just how important self care is when you are a parent and how not practising this can have a huge impact on our well being and our ability to deliver good “service” to our little humans. I realised that we could learn a lot as parents from this seemingly irrelevant to us code of Ethics. Especially the section on “Fit For Practice” – It states:

We will take responsibility for our own well-being as essential to sustaining good practice

*Take precautions
*Monitor and maintain own psychological/physical health
*Seek professional support 
*Keep a healthy balance or work and life 

As I read this I realised how true this could be for parenting and life. In order to really get the best out of life, and to have an ability to appreciate what we have and see the hearty moments around us, we need self care – to take more responsibility for our well-being and maintain good physical and psychological health. We need to recognise that our well-being is essential to good home and family relationships and that it has a direct impact on our little ones too.

We need to keep a healthy balance, ask for help if we need it and care for our mental and physical health.

I see taking precautions as being more prepared and organised – saving to avoid stress when things crop up, packing bags the day before so it’s not a mad rush in the morning, or resting when we know a big day is coming so we can reserve our energy. It’s eliminating negativity so it doesn’t make us feel naff about ourselves, or causes us to take on others issues when we need to focus on our own.

I recognise that this is often easier said than done, and I also recognise that we live at a time when everything is very fast paced. Taking on multiple roles is “just the norm”. Our lives are always on the go and many parents talk about how life is often a balancing act or spinning multiple plates, and it can be easy to assume that this is what life is. It is easy, with so many people sharing only the good in life on social media, to fall into the trap of becoming clouded by comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. We can feel like we aren’t doing enough or aren’t enough, even when we are in reality more than that. At best we can just generally feel drained with life with all of the directions we are being pulled in.

Life is exhausting and busy and when we add into it the everyday parenting challenges of financial pressures, little sleep, sick kids, tantrums and chores and work that all need doing, we can see how we can quickly become swamped by life.

SO STOP!

Stop for a moment and think.

Are you giving your best self to those who need it the most?

Are you truly happy with the routine of your life?

when was the last time you stopped and listened to yourself?

When was the last time you asked “What do I want to do?”

Are you really aware of the effects that others are having on you and your well-being?

I have been asking myself these types things recently as I realise that these simple questions can go a long way to helping you identify your needs and being more aware of what affects your life is having on you. I have seen that I take on too much sometimes, and I have highlighted the needs I have to be happier and more balanced.

Self Care

We talk a lot these days about self care – how important it is and necessary for our mental health. But how many of us take that seriously and truly understand what self care means to us?

I know that for me it is only recently that I have felt that I know how to listen to myself and what types of thing’s I can do to practice self care. It has taken me a bout of PND 8 years ago and losing a child to stillbirth, to come to really know myself and listen to what I need and what I want my life to be like. These experiences, and being in a state I can only describe as “rock bottom”, along with people saying “be kind to yourself and go easy”, for me has helped me to figure out how I can be kind to myself, and that has made a huge difference to my happiness and confidence.

With this awareness and thoughts on well-being in parenting, here are some of the ways I see that we can practise self care and therefore take more responsibility for our own well-being:

Eat Well – It will set you up for the day, provide energy, stop you feeling sluggish and also help your body stay healthy so that you are in a better place to do all you need to.

Allow yourself guilt free treats – With holding treats when you fancy a chocolate bar or an ice-cream is no way to live. It can make you feel annoyed or like you are missing out (and consequently binge later on). I am a great believer of “everything in moderation” – I have a healthy lifestyle, so I refuse to feel guilty for some giant buttons, a pizza or a cookie. Treats, and a little bit of what we fancy are good in life – especially when we don’t self sabotage over them.

Be KIND to yourself – This leads me onto kindness to yourself. Recognise that you are doing your best and avoid telling yourself you are rubbish, ugly, not enough, not doing enough, lazy etc etc. It is exhausting and drains your happiness. Of course it is fine to be aware of ways we can improve, but it is not fine to sabotage yourself for things that are normal, things that are out of your control or shortcomings you feel you have.

I am always working on ways I can tell myself I am great and appreciating my unique self – it isn’t prideful or egotistic, rather it is empowering and a form of self care. Try speaking nicer and being kinder to your body and mind. Celebrate your accomplishments and see that you are a fantastic and unique person – and then embrace that.

Get enough sleep/Rest If you need to – Sleep with kids or a new baby is hard. But how much better does a day go when we go to bed at a decent time? I also find that if I can grab an afternoon nap, or leave the laundry and dishes for a day to rest now and then, I feel so much better for it.

Learn to Say “No” – It’s not selfish or harsh to say no to things. Don’t take on things you know you cannot manage and say no to people who drain you or leave you feeling inadequate.

Are you taking on too much? If you think you are, then perhaps it’s time to say “no” to a couple of things and evaluate what you want from your life.

Learn that ‘fixing others’ can take a lot from us – It is not our job to fix people, and there are people in life that will, if we allow them, always take from us and our time. Be aware of these people in your life and what it is taking from you. You may need to create some distance, or sign post them to someone better equipped to give the help and advice they need.

Take a duvet day – Contrary to common belief, It is not lazy to rejuvenate and take a day to rest. It is not lazy to stay in your PJs and binge watch some stuff you love (if you fancy it). It will go a long way to relaxing and feeling better and it will help you to rest and gain more balance in life.

Go to places that make your soul sing – I have recently become aware of how good I feel at the beach, in old manor houses, eating out, at the cinema etc I suppose it is mindfulness, but being aware of how these places make you feel and recognising the impact on your mood is so good for self care. I know, if I go to places that make my soul sing, I feel happy, joyful and life is good and blessed!

Get out in Nature – Everytime I walk on the beach, through a wood, in the hills or over the fields, I breathe in deeply and life feels good and lighter. It helps me feel closer to God and it helps me feel like it’s good to be alive. I see so much beauty in the world and I feel gratitude.

Nature helps us gain perspective and clarity. It is good for the mind and soul and helps us keep healthy and feel grateful. When things are too much, getting out in nature to walk or just sit and be, really helps feed my soul and ignites my mind.

Take a Social Media Fast– Last year I took 2 social media fasts. 1 was for a week, the other for 10 days. They helped me focus on the here and now, be more present, and stopped me comparing to others or feeling bad about me. If social media is taking up a lot of your time or causing you to feel naff, unfollow or take a fast. Also, try to remember that likes and followers do not determine your worth!

Ask for Help if you need it – If you need to talk to a friend then call them. If you need some extra help at home because you are sick then ask someone. If you need a night off then call a sister or parent or friend to watch your kids – it is not a big issue and people who love you want to help you where they can. Stop feeling like it is a failure to ask for a hand, like it is weak or feeling like you might be burdensome to others. It’s okay, every now and then to ask for a hand. We all need to and It takes a village to raise a kid!!!

Stop listening to others opinions – We are all good at passing judgements and giving opinions and if you are anything like me, then you may have spent far too much time seeking the approval of others or internalizing the opinions of them. Part of self care is realising that people can have an opinion but it isn’t necessarily the right one, or right for you. This is YOUR life, and you can make your own choices. It is okay to seek advice from friends and family, but choose wisely from who this comes. Remember that ultimately it is your opinions that need to be prioritised and it will either be right, or a lesson learnt.

There will always be voices all around us and comparisons to be made. There will always be someone with advice or an opinion on your life. But this is your life and your family, and being the best for both, is down to what you want and what you feel is right.

We may not have a code of ethics as parents that we need to adhere to, but I believe that self care is essential to sustaining good practice for life and parenting. I cannot stress enough how much we can learn from these things, and that by taking more responsibility for our well-being, we can keep a healthy balance, find more joy and appreciation, and embrace more of the hearty moments in life.

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I have been intrigued by the power of essential oils for quite a while, but outside of my trusty Tea tree oil which I use for cold sores, Ethans Warts and other scrapes/zits, and the Peppermint oil I used to diffuse to help me in pregnancy with sickness, they have never really been a part of our home and life. I have heard many great things about essential oils and have many friends and family that use them on a regular basis for a number of things and swear by them. For me however, I have looked from afar, with no idea where to start and rarely the funds to be able to afford them.

When Simply Earth contacted me to review one of their Recipe Boxes this month, I was delighted to have the opportunity to finally learn a little more about incorporating oils into our lives and learning more about the benefits of new oils outside my current tea tree! I already love that their Subscription boxes offer you full sized oils each month, with ideas and little extras of how you can use them. And the best part is that they are pure and come at the affordable price of $39 a month for a recipe box – this was exciting!

Who Are Simply Earth? 

Simply Earth are an American based essential oils company (who ship worldwide) and who are passionate about helping others to have a more natural home and access the power of plants and nature. They work carefully and ethically to choose a region where each plant will thrive and then work with their farmers to ensure that when the plants have reached maturity, they are harvested safely and fairly. From there they collect their natural essential oils through either cold-pressing or steam-distillation and every batch is then tested to ensure 100% purity.

Monthly Subscription

One of the things that has put me off being able to use essential oils in the past, is that pure oils are so blooming pricey! I was therefore excited that for only $39 a month (£30 and a few pence) you can join Simply Earth to get a monthly delivery of 4 pure essential oils plus extras (which is at the same price of 1 oil from the big oil companies). It can be paused at any time, and gives you the opportunity to learn how to use the oils in everyday life to help your home and family be more natural.

The essential recipe box includes 👇

4 Essential Oils | Natural Ingredients | + Fun Extras – they have a $150 value for only $39/month and after 6 months subscription you will also receive a jam packed free bonus box that will enable you to widen what you can mix and make.

The January Box! 

I received the January box last week and was really excited to see all of the lovely things in it – not only would it be a fabulous gift to give to someone who loves essential oils, but it also enables you to make natural homemade gifts for friends and family too. As well as providing you with the individual oils that can be used for so many other things.

The January Box has a Bergamot Essential Oil, Myrrh Essential Oil, Ravensara Essential Oil, Farewell Scars Essential Oil Blend, Tapioca Pearls, a Soap Mold and Lip Balm Container, along with recipe cards of various things you can make. I was really impressed with just how much you get, and how simple the recipes were to follow.

Bergamot Essential Oil – Bergamot oil is a citrus oil that has commonly being used in Italian folk medicine for fevers and other medicinal purposes for many years. It is useful to help relax you, calm your nerves and help with insomnia. Many swear by it for anxiety, as well as seeing benefits for balancing oily skin and easing tight muscles.

Myrrh Essential Oil – Myrrh is a common word we throw around at Christmas time, but did you know that it has been used as early as 600B.C in Ancient Egypt for embalming and fumigation?

Whilst I am pretty certain that you won’t need it for it’s traditional uses, it is nonetheless useful in this day and age. Myrrh is a popular oil for skin healing, as well as calming the mind and being anti-fungal.

Ravensara Essential Oil – Ravensara Essential Oil not only supports the immune system during times of seasonal illness, but also has great benefits for mental well-being as it promotes self confidence and has a calming effect. It wards off skin corruption of the lips and also supports self confidence. Along with Bergamot oil it has been my firm favourite.

Farewell Scar Blend – The farewell Scar blend is a blend of Lemon, Lavender, Rosemary, Myrrh and Helichrysum essential oils. It helps  during the healing process and can help reduce scarring and leave you with healthy, healed skin.

I am a complete beginner with using essential oils, however I am already loving how easy the Simply Earth Recipe box has helped me to use them. Yesterday I made both a body scrub and 2 lip balms and loved them both. They were easy to make and smelt gorgeous (as well as having the assurance of health benefits from the oils).

I used the body scrub in the shower immediately and the hot water helped to really kick in the power of the oils as my breathing suddenly felt clearer and my mind calmer throughout the day. The benefits to my skin were instantaneous too, leaving it incredibly soft and moisturized. I have put some in a jar to take to my mother in law tomorrow, as I know she will love it too, but it gets a thumbs up from me!

The lip balms were really easy to do too and I love that I have now created “his & hers” lip balms for Nathan and I! He suffers with chapped lips and this blend is so good to help promote soft lips. I have only been using them since yesterday but the smallest amount moisturises all day, as well as having a lovely fragrance from the farewell scar blend.

Both the scrub and the lip balm (as well as other recipes in the January box) are excellent for skin and lips at this cold time of year when the weather is harsh and can chap and dry out skin.They are wonderful for personal use and great to give you the chance to make lovely homemade gifts too, that will pass on the joy and benefits of essential oils.

Helping others along the way

Another thing that I have loved since becoming acquainted with the Simply Earth brand is their commitment to helping others. It is remarkable that Simply Earth shares 13% of it’s profits to organizations who help end the atrocity of Human Trafficking, which has quickly become a a worldwide phenomenon.

Simply Earth essential oils can be used in a variety of ways outside of those found as a starting point in the recipe boxes. They do not recommend ingesting the oils as the International Federation of Aromatherapists does not recommend that Essential Oils be taken internally unless under the supervision of a Medical Doctor who is also qualified in clinical Aromatherapy. However, their oils would be safe for consumption, if under the care/supervision of a doctor trained in clinical Aromatherapy.

I am going to continue researching how I can use them in everyday life and at home, and will let you know in a few weeks how it goes. In the meantime, if you want to give essential oils ago this year, and like the idea of being able to make homemade lovely gifts for friends and family with them, then head over to the Simply Earth Website and type in the code HEARTYFREE  –  it will give you a free $20 gift card which will be included in your initial Essential Oil Recipe Box at checkout (when you subscribe to the recipe box for the first time) and that you can use on your future purchase or next box.

*I am working as part of Simply Earths affiliate programme and receive a small fee for each purchase made through my code. I received this January box and a bonus box complimentary for the purpose of this post and collaboration. All images and thoughts are my own. 

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This week has suddenly turned from mild Autumnal mornings, to blumming freezing in the space of a couple of days! I have dug out our feather duvet (much to Mr Smiths dismay) and tonight plan on bringing down all my Autumn/Winter stuff out of the loft, as I am feeling I need more knitwear and thick socks in my life. We have had a whole lot of rain and I am really beginning to miss the heat wave of Summer!

On Saturday we enjoyed a lovely visit to the Keighley and Worth Valley railway (which I will do a post about in a few days) followed by a swim party and fab little disco in celebration of my brother in laws 40th! It was a great fun packed weekend to wrap up a busy week of work, school runs and back to college, and I am thankful for ordinary moments to create special memories amidst the family life mayhem!

Grateful For 

This week I am grateful to have a dryer! It may seem really silly, but this is actually the first time in our married life that we have had a tumble dryer and I love it! We have never really had space before, and just made do with a drying rack, radiators or the odd sunny days (which has been utterly disastrous some weeks). But now with all of the rain and increasing laundry from 3 kids, it has completely changed my life and I couldn’t be more thankful to have a dryer!

I am also grateful to have been able to take Megan to see Madagascar the musical last Monday evening. We had a wonderful evening together and I am so pleased to be her mother!

Succeeded At

This week I successfully enrolled at college for my Level 4 diploma in counselling and successfully completed the first day! It was so good to be back and feel this level of enthusiasm and passion for something. My mind is whirling with theories and thoughts about areas I want to work in, and I am excited for this chapter of life and increased knowledge!

Found Beauty In

On Thursday I think it was, when we had a huge amount of rain (which conveniently hit tight on the school run), and as I reached the school gates, I looked down at Alice and saw the cutest little hand poking out to catch rain drops – it was a beautiful and very lovely sight!

I also found beauty in seeing my old friends at college again, walking across to soft play, the yorkshire dales via the steam train, and seeing the kids enjoy themselves with the trains on Saturday!

Its been another lovely but busy week!

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