It’s been a huge year, this past one. We moved to the country. We renovated a farm house. Since we moved in during the summer I have been feeling really stressed. I have been looking for health reasons for how I feel; something to pin it on. But it isn’t that simple. I’ve been in a cycle where my energies are all askew. Sometimes I am high, sometimes I am low. I often struggle to sleep. I have too much going on in my head. Occasionally I socially binge drink, thinking “hey, I deserve this blowout!” – then I feel terrible the next day. I’ve been very tearful. And I’ve been getting increasingly shouty with the kids, which was literally making me feel physically bad.
So I have decided to really make changes to my life. One of the things I am doing to achieve a better balance is to walk – and it is really helping. Here are some ways that walking enables me to be a better mum…
You notice things
When you go for a walk, you start to really look at things. Especially if you take a camera. You don’t stride on obliviously. Instead you are on the look out. You stop and stare. You notice things. And this noticing is very relaxing as it happens. It takes your mind away and let’s it rest. Later that day, when my daughter has another poo accident, instead of getting annoyed (potty training in a week? Try 15 months!) I notice that she seems ashamed and anxious when I clean her up. Lightbulb moment: my narkiness is making things worse. Time for a change: me, not her.
You get a sense of perspective
When you stand on top of a hill it makes you feel small. You take a deep breath and look around. You think about that silly argument this morning with your 5 year old about him not being able to put his shoes on and realise that it was ridiculous: you were ridiculous. As long as he’s putting them on himself when he’s 25, that’s OK. You resolve that tomorrow you’ll help him and not make a comment on it. Because it doesn’t really matter, does it? He’s healthy and happy and that’s all that matters.
You can reflect on stuff
Walking – be it a 20 minute jaunt or a 4 hour ramble – gives you time. Time for just you, or you and a friend, or you and your partner to reflect on recent decisions and things that happened. Perhaps we we overreacted about our son’s reluctance to read? Maybe he’ll just do it in his own time? Yeah. We probably won’t instruct a private tutor just because he’s a bit stubborn with his phonics. Wow, that was definitely a massive overreaction, wasn’t it!? What dickheads we are! Ha! He’ll do it in his own time. And breathe. That feels good.
You get some exercise – and an endorphin release
We live in the Peak District. The shot below is on top of the huge hill behind our house. I moaned and whinged my way up that massive hill. It nearly killed me – note the sweaty head! But when I got to the top I felt amazing. And when we walked back down my mind hummed, but with positive endorphins, not anxiety. And the good mood vibes last quite a while it turns out. So when the kids turned down my healthy and delicious dinner that evening, I didn’t lose it. Instead I politely informed them that there wouldn’t be any supper and yes, they may leave the table. I am a Zen Goddess. (Even if I’m one that reneges on said threat and gives them peanut butter on toast before bed.)
You get to spend time together
When you walk with your family, especially your wider family (see below for my clan of nutters – it’s Adam’s side, that’s my explanation anyway) it gives you time to talk, to chew the cud. For the kids to spend time in the fresh air with their Nana, Granddad, cousins, aunty, uncle… Instead of being inside, where there are screens on. Even for adults this is true. Someone will have a telly on, or an iPad. But when you are outdoors you only have the walk – and each other. An example is being set: family is what matters, being together. Isn’t that what life’s actually all about?