What can you do to prioritise ‘you’ to ensure you’re the best version of yourself not just for your child and the rest of the family but for your own peace of mind and happiness
We talk to three mums who are working hard on themselves and helping others in similar situations in the process.
Meet our mindful mamas:
Tanya is solo mama to Mackenzie who lives with blindness, autism, developmental delay
and panhypopituatarism. Tanya is passionate about empowering mothers to reconnect with the essence of their true Self through her coaching services, wellness workshops and retreats for special-needs mamas.
Natalie is mum to Chiara and Grace and an international speaker, writer, coach and advocate on a mission to create conscious change for women, their families and the world. Natalie has created a reignite program that has impacted the lives of many mothers raising little warriors with a disability or diagnosis.
Darrielle is mum to two angels including her daughter Bella who has Rett syndrome. She is a holistic counsellor and an empowerment coach working to support women who are seeking change in their stressful lives.
Natalie and Darrielle will be running a free event later this year to support mums. For details, keep an eye out over the coming weeks on their social media pages.
DID YOU HAVE AN AHA MOMENT THAT MADE YOU START WORKING ON YOURSELF OR HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN FOCUSSED ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING?
T. In 2016 after seven years of solo parenting I found myself in a constant state of exhaustion and suffered from severe gut inflammation due to stress. I was sick of waking up feeling like crap and I struggled watching Mackenzie’s suffering. The things that used to make me feel good like nutritious foods and yoga didn’t help anymore. I knew I wasn’t giving her what she needed and I was sick of feeling so unwell. I’ve spent the past two years working on me and it’s been amazing.
N. I’ve always been curious about the mind and body connection ever since I can remember! When I was working for a global corporate company, I started to attend yoga classes to help balance out my fast-paced work lifestyle. Yoga became a huge part of my life, so much so, that I became a yoga teacher. Then naturally after my motherhood journey changed after my daughter’s diagnosis, I understood that the value of honouring my self-care was also a direct portal to honouring hers.
D. After spending five very long years living in sadness, I hit an absolute breaking point. I wanted so dearly to feel better for myself but also for my family. So, I woke up one day and said to myself, ‘what right do I have to feel sad when Bella smiles all day?’. And so she was my motivation to send myself on a quest to create a happier life and then go on to become a Holistic Counsellor to support other mothers in the world.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR PARENTING JOURNEY?
D. By far watching my daughter experience seizures and feeling completely helpless as a mother. Thankfully these have now stopped thanks to trusting my intuition and finding the right holistic healing mix for her.
T. Being a single parent, especially due to Mackenzie’s medical needs. There are only a couple of people that know how to manage her symptoms and I always felt guilty asking for help. I’ve had to let go of the ‘martyr’ mentality because the reality is, I can’t do it all by myself. I burnt out trying until I didn’t have a choice but to accept support.
N. Watching my child suffer has been the most challenging part. With over 300 hospital appointments, a few intense ambulance trips and some wild sleepless nights, the load on my mind, heart and body has been huge. Grief has been a tough one to manage also, it can hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it.
WHAT’S THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE CHANGE YOU’VE MADE TO YOUR LIFESTYLE OR ROUTINE IN TERMS OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
N. I learnt the value of staying aligned to my values and creating boundaries. To make choices that feel right and honour the way I want to feel and show up in the world. There’s no guilt when I say ‘I’m not going’ or ‘I have to cancel’. I’m very clear with my boundaries, so I have more time and energy for the things and people that I love.
D. Giving myself permission to ask for and set up regular support so that I can create space for me. I used to feel guilty about having ‘self-care time’, however now I see the impact my renewed energy has on my children when I am back in their presence and the guilt immediately falls away.
T. I introduced a gratitude journal that helped me focus on the good when things were tough, and accept the things I couldn’t change. Daily meditation gave me time to reconnect with the essence of who I am and reminded me I could choose to be happy despite our challenges. I stopped doing things that didn’t bring me joy and followed my passions so I could feel a deep sense of fulfilment.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK IN PROGRESS? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU NEED TO STOP DOING, OR DO BETTER?
T. I’m trying to reduce time on my phone! No phone for the first hour upon waking and before bed and I use flight mode when Mackenzie comes home from school. I make sure I use the night-mode after dark to avoid the blue light that triggers a state of alertness and I read and meditate instead. It’s a work in progress and at the very least, I’m aware of when I’m failing in my commitment.
N. My work in progress is learning to be present in the moment. I’m very driven by nature, so my mind is often in ‘doing’ mode or ‘creating’ mode. I feel I need to learn to just stop and be present to the moment.
D. My life is always a work in progress! I think many of us aim for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (constant happiness), however the truth is, life will always be about continual learning experiences. For me it’s about how can I setup tools to support myself through this journey so that I view the challenges as gifts.
STRESS IN SPECIAL NEEDS PARENTING CAN’T BE AVOIDED, WHAT’S YOUR GO TO WAY OF DEALING WITH HIGH STRESS MOMENTS?
D. I try to stay in the present moment, rather than worrying about what ‘might happen’ next. The other thing I do is try not to replay the story over and over again afterwards, either in my head or to others verbally. Instead focussing on what is happening now because the more we go back over high stress moments, the longer we stay in that state.
N. Self-compassion is number one, because there are going to be times where I may not deal with high-stress moments very well and that’s okay. We have to be kind to ourselves and understand that our motherhood journey comes with a lot of challenges, so we need to afford that loving care that we give to our partner and children, also to ourselves. I am also very clear on what I need in terms of supports around these high-stress moments, so reaching out for help is a must. We weren’t supposed to do this alone.
T. Yoga taught me that everything’s temporary and the hard times pass. I close my eyes, breathe and wait for the storm to settle. Nine years into my journey, I know that challenges facilitate growth, so while it doesn’t feel great at the time, I know we’ll find our way out of the dark when the time’s right. But my biggest secret is great nutrition. I use a nutrition program with lots of adaptogens that help fight the effects of stress. I double dose on my morning Ionix when I’m exhausted or stressed – It’s been my saving grace!
DO YOU EXERCISE? WHAT ACTIVITIES HELP YOU MENTALLY?
N. I attend weekly yoga classes, which I love. I also ride my bike everywhere I can. I love music to get me moving, when I need to shift some energy I’ll listen to my favourite dance tracks and dance around the house. Getting my body moving, getting fresh air and un-plugging is a huge priority for me.
T. Yoga keeps me feeling strong and healthy and the mindfulness helps me tune in to myself and listen to what’s happening inside. I love walking, swimming at the beach and HIIT training and value time alone making my body feel good. Mackenzie and I love the trampoline, riding our bike and swimming in the ocean together.
D. I walk our dog 4-5 times a week and that is enough to move my body. I have a morning ritual, where I get up 45 mins before the kids every weekday to setup my day and my mindset. I meditate, dance, journal, light a candle, I mix it up to whatever feels good in the moment. For me this is the difference between a great day and a stressful day!
WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU DO WHEN YOU NEED AN ENERGY BOOST?
T. Handstands and headstands! It’s so playful and the rush of energy to my head wakes me up instantly. Or I dance like crazy to a fun song. I nutritionally cleanse every week using Isagenix for a whole body and mind reset. My energy levels and state of wellbeing are more stable in my late 30s as a single special-needs mama then ever before thanks to this amazing program.
D. I have a long list I tap into, here are just a few:
– Have one of my wholefoods shakes,
– Listen to something uplifting on YouTube,
– Play an uplifting song and dance around the lounge-room (the kids always end up joining in and having a laugh too!),
– Break the energy and go for a walk in nature with the kids!
N. Get out into nature! It’s the simple things!
IF A MAMA ONLY HAS 10 MINUTES IN THE DAY FOR HERSELF, WHAT CAN SHE DO?
N. Listen to your intuition and what you need on that day and in that moment. Let’s face it, our motherhood journey changes a lot. So my biggest tip here is to lean into what your mind and body is telling you. How do want to feel? You may want to spend time in nature to feel grounded, or listen to your favourite dance track loud! Or lie down in bed and just focus on your breath and re-energise, or take a long hot soak in the bath. However, with that said, you may need to just zone out and watch Netflix, eat some fries or chocolate. Only you know the answer to what you truly need in your sacred 10 minutes of time, make sure you enjoy it and guilt free too!
T. Make a cuppa, sit down, be silent, close your eyes and notice your breath. Give yourself permission to stop so you can check in and ask ‘what do I need in this moment to get through my day’. You could set an intention for your day and ask for the strength and tools you need to get through it. A little shout of gratitude also goes a really long way.
D. A mama can fit a lot into 10 mins! Here are a few of my favourites:
– Light a candle with the intention this is ‘just for me’,
– Make a cup of tea in your favourite cup,
– Sit in the sunshine and soak up all of its healing light, – Read a few pages of an uplifting book,
– Listen to a few songs that makes you smile
(make up a special playlist).
DO YOU HAVE ANY BEDTIME RITUALS TO HELP YOU SLEEP?
D. Simply listening to my own breath can be powerful. It takes my mind off everything else and allows me to instantly relax. I also find simple prayer (not the religious type) helps me to release and surrender a lot of worry and stress.
T. I don’t touch my phone for an hour before bed so my brain isn’t tricked into thinking it’s daytime and I don’t own a TV. I shower right before I go to bed and if I still feel a little wired, I read or meditate. I also say a little mantra “I trust the sleep I get tonight will be all I need to allow me to wake tomorrow feeling rested and energised” … It doesn’t matter if I have 3 hours or 8 hours sleep, my mantra works!
N. I love to read, there is always a heap of books by my bed. I also practice Yoga Nidra, it’s my go-to when my mind can’t switch off. There are always essential oils simmering through the house to help us all chill after a busy day. My daughters and I spend time visualising and manifesting, yep it may sound a little ‘out there’, but we co-create a magical life for our family and night time seems to the time where we can all dream big.
IS THERE A BOOK OR MOVIE OR SOMETHING SIMILAR THAT INFLUENCED YOUR VIEW OF SELF- NOURISHMENT AND SELF-CARE?
T. ‘The Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama/Howard Cutler was the catalyst for me choosing happiness. It was a shift in mindset that helped me see a different way of living. Then I used ‘My Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod to cultivate more time for myself.
D. The book that changed my perspective on life and started me on my own transformative path is called: ‘Freedom to love’ by Hong Curley. Hong shares through her real clients’ stories how they turn what seems like the toughest of situations, into the biggest gifts in their lives. I even personally wrote to her after reading it and she wrote back encouraging me to start to change my perspective in my own life!
N. My daughter Chiara has had the greatest influence on how I view my self-nourishment. Everything I do to take care of myself, is directly linked to the care I need to provide for her.
ONE LAST THING YOU’D LIKE TO SAY ABOUT BALANCE, WELLNESS AND SPECIAL NEEDS PARENTING…
T. It’s imperative that we invest time and energy into fulfilling our own needs so we can help our children thrive. You are worthy of the time you need to feel good.
As hard as it is, being a little selfish is necessary. Trust that your body knows what it needs to feel great – it doesn’t have to be complicated. Wholesome nutrition, supplements, movement, rest, and time doing things that bring you joy is all it takes. You need to put on your own mask before you can put on someone else’s.
D. I believe that we are the lucky ones who have the opportunity to firstly transform ourselves, and then to create real change in our world. Our children selflessly chose to come here to shine their lights on many of us. My motivation is to support my daughter in her mission to soften and heal our world. She teaches me the deepest of wisdom and for that I hold so much gratitude in my heart. Together we can make change thanks to our angels. As we heal, they heal.
N. No one on this planet will help you more than yourself. Stop giving away your power to other people. You have an incredible reservoir of resources within you. Do what you need to honour your time, energy and space. When you flourish, so too will your family.
To contact Natalie, Darrielle or Tanya to see how they can help you: