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  • Writer's pictureNicole Gaillard

Selfcare journey of a single mom



Learning to take really good care of ourselves FIRST,

is so important. For me it was quite a journey,

but it improved the quality of my life in a big way.


💛


I guess I realized that all of us have a role to play in this life. And I can only play my part. Nobody else can do that for me.

If I hold back,

if I do not live my best life,

not fully speak my truth in every moment,

not take the best care of myself...


I hold back

a beautiful

and important part of life.

Like a flower that I am not allowing to bloom.


💛


As a single mom life can be crazy busy. I guess I was in a overwhelm a lot of the time.

Living in this Dutch culture where indepence is so important and we rarely ask for help,

self care was trial and error for me. Small errors and big one's too.

I had to learn that there is a balance to everything.

Also to being independent.


💛


I figured out a more relaxed, natural and connected way to do this.

I love to share with you what worked for me. The six basics I learned about

interdependency and selfcare over the last 16 years:


1. Structures: create daily & weekly routines

2. Prioritize Trust

3. Time to Fail & Safe Space

4. Buffer Time

5. Use no more than 70%

6. Heal & have a Safety Net


💛


1. Structures: create daily & weekly routines

I first learned the practicle and basic side of self care, I needed daily and weekly routine to fall back on. Less decisions and less improvising during the week meant less stress.

So I plan my activities and meals for each week, during the weekend.

I do grocery shopping during the weekend. So I don't have to think about what to cook during the week. And as for the daily routines, it is about keeping up with

washing clothes and cleaning the house, so those chores stay small

and don't overwhelm me. Simple structures, but they work.


Also assigning a specific location for us to store the things we need when we leave the house. Each of us has their own shelve for their keys, wallet, phone and charger.

And right underneath are the power outlets to charge our phones.

This gave clarity and relaxation. No more moments of stress,

when going to school or to work. This TED Talk from an ER docter on how to triage your busy life

was perfect for me and inspired me to stick with structures

that make my life as easy as possible.


And last but not least, making my bed in the morning.

Such an important start of the day for me. I do it with love and deep care for myself

and it makes me feel worthy. Because I know at the end of a long day I always have a comfortable, cozy bed to lay down and rest.


💛


2. Prioritize Trust

As a working mom life is always busy.

Prioritzing what to spend my time and energy is an important one too.


I had worked part time when the kids were young. When they turned 10 and 12 years old I got offered an exciting but demanding job. Thinking my kids were ready to be a bit more

self sufficient, I took the job. But the long hours away from home and the stressful days quickly emptied my bucket. It didn't take long before I came home

tired every day. Suddenly needing things to run efficiently

at home so I could rest and get us ready

for the next day.


My increased need for rest and efficiency, added extra stress to the lives of my children.

And it made it harder for them having no other parent to fall back on.


They started to make more trouble

and I started missing out on their small and big adventures.


I did it for 3 years and that had an impact on our connection and in hindsight

it also had an effect on their trust in me.


It unfortunately took me a burnout to realize my priorities.

The long hours of this demanding job was not something I prioritized over

being there for my children. I could not combine the job with being the mother I wanted to be. I wanted to be part of their lives. And I wanted their trust back.




3. Time to Fail & Safe Space

We were missing our safe space.

We needed more time, all three of us.


Time to be together, time to laugh and share, but also time to not be okay,

to be grumpy, to fail, to make mistakes.


I realised I want my children go grow up being able to make good decisions.

I want them to trust them selves.

To know they can get through hard times

and tough experiences and be okay.


I want them to trust their cognitive side, their intuition, their judgement.

I wanted to give them the space and time to figure all of that out.


That was not going to happen if I was always busy and telling them how to do things efficiently, without getting into trouble. Out of a unconsious need to get the rest I needed.


They needed to make mistakes and find their own solutions. They needed to experiment without me interfering. They needed to experience that it is okay to make mistakes.

That trial and error is a necessary part of life.

It is the key and only way for learning and growth.


The most sucessful people in this world happen to be great at failling.

They view failling as the only way to get to their goals.

The path to reflect, learn and try again.


I had to gain back the trust of my children.

Create a safe space for things go wrong.

And just be there.

Open and available.


💛


4. Buffer Time

A less demanding job, figuring out my finances with less income and

our daily and weekly routine allowed me to create buffer time.


Buffer time I learned was important.

A health expert had to tell me that as a single mom I will always need buffer time, daily!

And I needed to plan that into our daily schedules, prioritize it.

And he was right of course.


Life is not perfect, things go wrong.

And most of the time that is exactly what we need.

It is how we change, how we learn and how we grow.


Buffer time is the time we need for things to fail, without it adding extra stress.

It is the time to hurt, to cry or be angry, to regulate emotions, to reflect, to learn, to heal

and if necessary to course correct.


Buffer time is something that is availabe for us now every day.

For me it meant slowing down, taking that other job and making a life style change.

Going from crazy busy to having a full and rich day...

but in a much more relaxed and natural way.


💛


5. Use no more than 70%

My business coach taught me to put a marker on my energy.

He explained that we each have a bucket of energy that lasts for one week.

And how it is important that this bucket is a weekly measurement.


I can use 70% off my bucket of energy in one week. For everything that needs to be done: work, cleaning, shopping, cookig, connecting, sports, time with friends.


The 30% of energy that is left, I cannot spent.

It is that buffer time the health expert also talked about. The energy we need for things to turn out differently than plannend. The time we need to create that safe space, to talk, cry, heal, connect, rest, reflect and make new plans. The time we need to embody, to register our intuition and not fly into only a mental judgement of things.


Registering my energy on a weekly basis in stead of a daily one,

forced me to plan in a better way. Emptying my full bucket will leave me depleted, I knew that. So now if I have an important event at say the beginning of the week, I need to do it in such a way that I do not spend the entire bucket of energy on Monday and Tuesday. Leaving me with not enough energy for the rest of the week.


I needed to spread my 70% of energy over a week.

Besides planning my activities and work, also plan my rest and recovery time.


All of this later turned into setting up even more loving self care structures and routines and leaving open spaces every day. So I can live my most authentic life and do my most passionate work. More about that journey into super loving self care structures


💛


6. Heal & have a Safety Net

The last important basic of being a parent is to make sure you have a safety net and you heal all of your own issues. Whatever I skipped because I thought it was not so

important at that time, it showed up in unconsious behaviour

and my kids mirrored it back to me each time.

I do not want to burden my children with my issues. So I regularly and honestly check myself on how I am doing. And I make sure I heal my own stuff.


I order for me to let go off some deeply rooted paterns I have had help multiple times. From a family doctor, a burnout coach, a physical therapist, a business coach, a psychologist

and a trauma expert.


I have worked through old stuff. And I will continue with when it pops up again.

Because I don't want my unconsious behaviour

to go on to the next generations.


Besides the professional help we sometimes might need.

I needed to learn to create a safety net in my personal circles. Asking for support from friends and family. Sometimes practicle help, sometimes

just someone to listen to me.


Inspired by this conversation with Simon Sinek on 'No crying alone',

I agreed with two of my best friends to hold this 'No crying alone' space for each other.

Whenever one of us feels really bad, we give each other a call and ask for this safe space.

The space where the other just listens and is not uncomfortable by you feeling bad.

Where they don't try to fix anything. Just hold the space to cry and talk.


It is so warm and supporting to have that in my life.


💛


This is a part of my journey in learning how to take really good care of myself first.

Curious which things resonate for you. And also, what works for you? Feel free to let me know.


For now, much love.





My typical look as a single mom after a full day: content and bit tired 💛

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