Here’s my confession: I overslept this morning. Thanks to the toddler not waking up at 3 am in the morning, my body clock went to pot and I emerged from the covers at 8 am. In a scene that would make Superwoman proud, I ran around the house in a flying tizz, trying to get two children dressed, fed and reasonably clean. Captain Chaos (my eldest) is capable of putting on clothes, but not in the time we had available. Toddler Squish had a tantrum because her chosen top did not have enough sequins on it. The cat vomited on my skirt.
I finally delivered my eldest to the Reception gate at school. The teacher took one sympathetic look at me and said “rough morning?”. It was at that point, I realised I had cornflakes in my hair.
Reader, its OK not to be Superwoman. It’s OK not to be up at the crack of dawn doing Pilates or Yoga (or falling asleep on the yoga mat). It’s even OK to have the odd crap start – especially if you are dealing with years of chronic sleep deprivation. The trick is knowing how to reset your day.
Your morning rescue moves
- Reset your body with five deep breathes. When you are physically stressed, your muscles tense, your breathing quickens and your heart rate is raised. So take a few seconds to breathe deeply and give yourself a chance to calm down. If you are walking: physically stop. If you are driving a car, use the next traffic light stop. Likewise at a bus or on a train: pick the next stop to just focus on breathing. If your child is old enough, get them to join in. If they are younger and more upset, pick them up and cuddle them as you breathe.
- Reset your mind with gratitude. By focusing on things that make you happy, you break the mental connection with your bad mood. It can be as simple as a spare pound for the car parking, a free newspaper and the view of the sun coming out through the trees. Just three small things.
- Pick an act of kindness. Compliment a stranger. Donate a tin to the food bank. Let your toddler splash in puddles or play on that toy car in the shopping centre. An act of kindness automatically makes you feel good.
- Let it go. Be kind to yourself: unless it is urgent, don’t try to cram the things you missed back into your day. If you were that tired in the first place, you needed the sleep and you are still running on low reserves. Let your time unfold as it will and pick up the exercise, study course, report or hobby tomorrow.
- Have a treat in store. In the same spirit of a rainy day fund, you need a “treat set” for tough times. Pick things that do good as well as make you feel good: a bath bomb, a houseplant or a favourite walk. I try to steer clear of food as it’s too easy to emotionally over-eat.
Superwoman is a myth: we can’t “do it all” and frankly, we should not have to. It’s an incredibly dangerous story that can easily lead to burn out because we often keep ourselves to higher standards than the male partners in our life. Does your husband clean the bathroom, pack the school books and reminds you to grab a card for your mother’s birthday? Women still take on most of the mental and physical burden of the household: even if we are working the same hours. That’s the equivalent of three jobs!
It does not help that the high-flying women feted by the media buy a lot of their help in, from nannies to cleaners. When you have only one set of hands, you can’t expect the same results as a full team of people. The wheels are going to come off occasionally – and the world will survive.
We all get crap mornings. But you don’t have to endure crap days. Good luck with your next reset!