Your Happiness Day

This is one for your mental health

It’s where you have a day off from all the “shoulds”
Like Boxing Day, when you wave goodby to your extended family and slouch around in your pyjamas until 10am.

Now, ideally you would actually get out of the house away from the kids, but I appreciate that may not always be possible if your partner is absent, your baby is small and breastfed or you simply don’t have the money to do something such as a spa day.

If you have a close friend who is willing to take them, do a trade-off. Grab a child-free morning in return for a child-crazy afternoon. The rule of thumb for this is to have fewer kids, the younger they are. Six adolescents? Break open the pizza and put on a movie. Six toddlers? A totally different proposition as they need constant attention, from nappy changes to eating wallpaper. There’s no point in taking the morning off to recharge if you are exhausted again by evening.

. If you can grab a child-free day (heck, just a few hours!) to yourself, these are the rules.

1. Don’t have a packed list of things to do. This is about relaxing and “being” in the moment. Want a bath? Go ahead. Fancy making brownies? Be my guest.

2. But do have a few things on-hand you would enjoy doing (but usually don’t have the chance). For example, I love planting spring bulbs. But it would be a waste of my time on Happy Day if I had to traipse out to the local garden centre to secure the supplies with two screaming kids in tow. So, I did plan a little ahead to have the bulbs, pots and soil available.

3. Do switch off from your usual routines.
Don’t let your day be gobbled up by Facebook or Instagram. They are more addictive than sugar. Switch off the phone or shut it in a drawer.

4. Housework is banned. Ignore the washing. Have a pre-prepped tea from the supermarket (or chuck something in the slow cooker the night before). Box up clutter if it really upsets you. But this is your time to focus on your happiness.

5. Plan it regularly. Peter Jones who suggested this in How to Do Everything and Be Happy: Your Step-by-step, Straight-talking Guide to Creating Happiness in Your Life*. (I really recommend reading book this if you get the chance), said he organised one every month. It’s not a lot when you think about it – one day out of thirty.

If you really have no option but to juggle the kids….
Ok, you still have to do some work, just to ensure they stay clean, fed and alive. However, it will not hurt anyone to eat a chip butty lunch under a tent fort, just for that day.

1. You do (sadly) have to plan ahead more when you have small children. Steal time by laying out clothes and prepping meals the night before. Dispose of all clutter.
2. Decide your priority. If it’s an unmolested hour with a book, take them to soft play or Ikea’s free creche (if they are over 3). If you want to cook, play, garden or explore, think ahead to find the least stressful way to include them.

3.Stay flexible. You are not going to get that relaxing bath with a teething baby. But you can sprinkle some essential oils on a burner and pick up a fresh magazine to browse, whilst you are cuddling them.

I hope this has been useful to you. True health and fitness encompass your heart and head, as well as your body. You are also doing your kids a favour as they will grow up knowing that Mum does take time out for herself and they should too. It’s too damn easy to fall into the martyr trap – or conversely, burn out trying to be Superwoman. You are just as important as the rest of your family, so ensure you put aside time for yourself.

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