If you’ve tapped into social media recently you most likely have come across the new buzz word: “self-care”. Second only to ‘woke’, “self-care” is sprouting up everywhere (I’m a tad too old to explain “woke” without an intensive Google search – and cannot say the word without ‘yolk’ subconsciously coming to the fore – so we’ll save that discussion for another day…). So self care. What is it exactly? By definition, self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. As women we are generally run ragged with multiple roles and responsibilities. The first thing to recognise is that looking after yourself is not just beneficial, it’s vital to maintaining a sense of well being. Time is precious and many of us are without that “village” it takes to raise children and build healthy communities.
Usually, we avoid taking time out for ourselves, subconsciously deeming it selfish when the myriad of tasks it takes to run a household stares us down, day in and day out (I’m looking at you overfilled laundry basket!). One mistake we often make is thinking that self-care is limited to a day when you can clear your diary for that long-awaited spa day you’ve envisaged since… wait, how long ago was Mother’s day 2012?
There is profound wisdom in the old adage ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. Us Mamas pour our hearts and souls into those entrusted in our care. Many of us are in that tricky stage of life where we are juggling caring for young children, tricky teens as well as ailing and ageing parents.
I like to think of self care as taking time out from what can become a drudge, the never-ending cycle of chores, by just simply pressing ‘pause’ for 5, or 10 minutes – or however long it takes. Self care is taking those few minutes to sit in your favourite comfy chair, or in a sunny spot in your house with a hot cup of soothing tea and <insert name of favourite biscuit here>, enjoying that quiet moment, especially knowing that once the kids come barging home from school you probably will be on your feet until bedtime.
That might sound simple, but it is a conscious decision to choose to have that moment, to put your needs first for a few minutes. Yes, it might be at the expense of ticking something off your to-do list, but I can guarantee, no one in the household will come to harm if that job is delayed to the following day.
Self care is very much unique to the individual, based on your interests, and what grounds and relaxes you. There are however, four core elements every Muslim Mama can build their self-care routine on.
Nourish Your Soul
“Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find ease” (13:28)
How hard is it for our overstimulated and overexposed hearts to indeed find rest in these turbulent times? Alhamdulillah we have our faith to remind us of our true purpose in life, to console us and remind us that every difficulty is an expiation.
Try to build on your connection with our Creator by doing regular dhikr and renewing your intention regularly. You are not just cooking daal chawal; you’re nurturing the next generation of the Ummah! Gratitude and acknowledgement of Allah’s blessings also keeps us grounded with a glass half-full outlook. If your biggest dilemma right now is which size Air Fryer to buy before Ramadan, then thank Allah profusely for the privilege of having “first world problems”!
Nourish Your Body
“Your body has a right over you..” (Sahih Bukhari)
When you’re tired from ironing, cooking and cleaning, doing some exercise might be the last thing on your priority list. But think about it, your body is what allows you to fulfil all your obligations, so you should take time out to look after it. Even the most basic exercise will naturally give you an energy boost and also boost your mood too. Nourishing your body isn’t just limited to exercise and the release of feel good endorphins; sticking to a skin care routine, or making the time to straighten your hair also count. Whatever it is that makes you feel the slightest bit better, do it!
Nourish Your Creativity
The effect of a relaxing hobby, creating something from scratch and seeing it to fruition or mastering a new skill, can have an amazing impact on our well-being. Crafts like knitting and crocheting are all making a comeback as people make the conscious decision to limit their time on energy-sapping social media. And don’t forget, watching Mama diligently work on her latest creation will inspire your children to work hard on projects and see for themselves that it takes dedication to achieve things.
Nourish Your Social Life
Never underestimate the powerful benefits of simply connecting with other people, especially other women who also know what it’s like to juggle ten spinning plates on a daily basis. And by that I don’t mean ‘liking’ someone’s comment on Muslim Mamas! I mean reaching out to that mum from school who you’ve been meaning to arrange a coffee with for ages, or your old friend whom you haven’t seen in months. Stop dithering and make that meeting happen! Your rejuvenated, happy self will thank you for it (sticking to covid restrictions of course!).
If you have managed to implement your own version of self-care into your daily routine, share it here for others to benefit – we’d love to hear from you. By inspiring each other, we can, Insha’Allah, become better and calmer mothers. At the centre of our homes, mothers can lead a ripple effect to the creation of positive families, happy children and great communities.
About the writer:
I’m a stay at home mother of one from sunny Sydney, Australia. My great passions in life are religion, family, and human rights advocacy. I also have a particular interest in the topic of maternal mental health.
Edited by Sister F, a fellow Muslim Mama who is merely trying to navigate through the maze that is life, praying that Allah is pleased with her efforts and forgives her many shortcomings.
All guest writer articles come from our Muslim Mamas community or from our network of supporters. Some contribute one-off stories; some contribute as anonymous mamas. All experiences and opinions are those of the writers.