I’m currently training for my first half marathon since falling pregnant with my son. My husband very kindly bought me a fancy new running watch because my old one stopped working. He assures me it has many amazing features (most of which I have no idea how to use and probably never will!).
Today, after I completed my training run, I saved the data on my watch. Then I noticed something that I normally skip over (because I’m following a separate training plan). My watch recommends the amount of recovery time I should allow myself after each run. During this time, it suggests I only do training that requires easy effort.
What a useful feature.
In fact, wouldn’t it be great if we received timely prompts to allow ourselves recovery time in our lives as mums?
Do you sometimes forget to take a break?
Do you just keep going and going until the point of sheer exhaustion?
I get it.
There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve realised too late that I’ve taken on too much.
Stress and overwhelm can creep up on you. When you constantly operate at a certain pace and level of stress, you become accustomed to it, as if it were normal. And then you increase the pace again because you think you can handle it. Before you know it, you’re exploding over something minor, getting sick because you’re run down, crying uncontrollably or feeling like you just can’t keep going.
This is not the best way to manage your energy levels and well-being. You aren’t going able to be your best self this way.
I know that everyone needs you and that things don’t get done if you don’t do them. That your to-do list grows faster than you can tick things off. And I know that as a mum you’re amazing at putting everyone else before yourself.
You may even feel selfish if you take time for yourself. Or guilty.
There’s something you need to know though.
If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after anyone, or anything.
You might not notice at first. But then you’ll start to be more:
- short tempered
This all impacts on the quality of your connections and ‘work’ (in the broadest sense).
We all need recovery time with easy effort.
What is recovery time?
My fancy new watch manual says that the estimated recovery time is how long it will take for me to be fully recovered and ready for the next hard workout.
Unfortunately, it’s not suggesting that I sit on the lounge for 24 hours and watch Netflix (Remember those days? Hello Gilmore Girls!).
Life still goes on, the kids still need you and totally checking out for that long isn’t realistic.
Recovery time simply means backing off on the effort for a little while.
You might like to think about it as a way to be kind to yourself when you need it most, to make sure that you can keep going and keep giving. It’s often easier to think about what you would suggest to a good friend who was exhausted or who has just been through something particularly demanding.
Think about what feels effortful for you. How can you convert it to easy effort for a little while to let yourself recover?
Recovery can consist of anything that makes you feel better. It could take 5 mins or all weekend. You could do it alone, with the kids or as a family. Recovery looks different for each of us, and also will depend on how much pressure you’ve been under. When you expend more effort, you may need more recovery.
Here are some extra recovery suggestions for inspiration:
- Give yourself 5 mins to sit down and drink a (hot) cup of tea
- Close the door on the laundry for a day (the washing will still be there tomorrow)
- Read a book for 30 mins
- Take the kids to visit their grandparents so there is someone else to help you look after them for a few hours
- Let the kids watch a movie so you can do some chores in peace
- Go to the gym for an hour
- Get a massage
- Go on a weekend away with your friends
- Go on a date night with your partner
- Relax in the bath
- Have a pyjama day at home with the kids
- Have a nap or do something relaxing when the kids nap, instead of working or doing chores
- Take the kids to the park where they can run around and you can enjoy some sunshine and fresh air
- Walk somewhere (at a leisurely pace, by yourself or with the kids) instead of driving, to get a bit of gentle exercise and be outside while still getting things done.
Recovery time doesn’t necessarily need to involve you stepping away by yourself and getting someone to look after the kids and everything else. There’s absolutely a time for that. But you can also create recovery time by backing off on the effort required for a little while. Easy effort.
Do you need recovery time?
Here’s your More to Mum Action Plan:
- If you need recovery time right now, what can you do today to back off on the effort required and allow yourself to recover?
- What’s something that almost always feels effortful for you? How can you convert this to easy effort when you need recovery time?
You deserve recovery time. Looking after you, is also looking after everyone and everything else that needs your attention. Creating opportunities for recovery time with easy effort will help you continue to be at your best as much as possible.