If I’d had written this post a few years ago, “time out” would have gone a little like this: consuming as many Tim Tams as possible in the cupboard so I didn’t have to share with the kids (I needed the sugar hit to get me through the day); a glass of wine – I’d often look at the clock at 5pm after a stressful day and wonder if it was too early; pushing a pram around the block; a shower without any interruptions and a full night’s sleep (yes, uninterrupted sleep is “time out” for new mothers)...
I was terrible at looking after myself in those early days. I’d had a rough pregnancy with my second which ended up with me hooked up to a blood transfusion (and four more to follow) in hospital when she was six weeks old. At the end of the whole ordeal, I was completely depleted. Yet, I still ignored making myself a priority. For the most part, it was because running a growing business while looking after a newborn and a one-and-a-half-year-old didn’t leave me with much time, but I also had my priorities wrong.
Here’s where it gets exciting – there is hope in sight. My girls are now 5 and 6 (they were born 17 months apart) and I’ve gotten a lot more serious (and selfish) about “me time”. So, here’s what I do to prioritise me because not putting your own oxygen mask on first doesn’t help anyone.
My favourite serum
When I was a teenager, I started dipping into my own mother’s beauty cabinet. She’d used Clarins – the French luxury skincare brand founded by a masseur called Jacques Courtin in 1954 – for years.
Courtin’s journey began with his own treatment oils, which he said firmed the skin. Also, with the belief that wellbeing and happiness were intricately linked to beauty. He was right – looking after yourself, taking the time to care for your skin, makes you feel happy. If I’m not looking after my skin, it’s a sign that I’m not prioritising myself – I’m not making time for “me”. We’re all guilty of this, but caring for your skin doesn’t have to be complicated.
My approach to beauty really began peaking into my mother’s beauty cabinet – she passed her love of Clarins onto me and it’s a brand I’ve loved for years. One of the reasons I love Clarins – other than it helps me achieve radiant skin – is that it’s a story of a passionate family who creates skincare products which are handed down from generation to generation. One day, I hope my girls will also use Clarins.
So where to start? I thought I’d introduce you to one of my favourite products, which also happens to be the brand’s number-one seller. It’s a serum which I use without fail, twice a day after cleansing and before moisturising.
Double Serum originally launched in 1985. In 2017, the formulation was updated to combine 21 potent plant extracts, including the introduction of age-defying turmeric, a heavy-duty antioxidant that works to protect your skin from oxidative stress such as signs of fatigue, breakouts, ageing. There’s also avocado, which promotes soft and supple skin, and oat, which firms and lifts. Teasel extract works to minimise the look of fine lines and Organic leaf of life extract will enhance your skin’s natural hydration levels. Yes please – I’ll take it all.
As someone with sensitive skin, Double Serum has never once irritated me. It’s also one of the only products which will satisfy the hydration needs of my skin, particularly in Winter when my skin just feels so dry all the time. With Double Serum, I’ll use two generous pumps and spread it out all over my face neck and décolletage (the skin on these areas are just as delicate as your face).
The texture of the serum is super light and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy like some other serums can. The minute it’s on, my skin soaks it up. Instantly, it feels and looks more dewy. Basically, it does what it’s supposed to do. Double Serum was created to target the 5 vital skin functions: regeneration, oxygenation, nutrition, hydration, and protection. It’s formulated to keep your complexion youthful and that’s exactly what it does. It’s a product for all skin types, which is great for someone like me who suffers from hormonal breakouts one day and dry, flaky skin the next.
I’ll apply it and wait a minute before applying my moisturiser (I use Clarins Extra-Firming range which is great for women in or approaching their forties – I’m the latter). I then give my skincare about 10 minutes to settle before I apply makeup.
It doesn’t matter how hectic my day is, applying this serum twice a day gives me a few moments of “me time”. It’s a little ritual reserved just for me.
I recently went on a sleep retreat with The Goodnight Co. where we talked a lot about the importance of putting your phone down two hours before you go to bed. I had gotten into a routine of watching TV or working most nights and it wasn’t doing wonders for my sleep patterns. I love getting into bed and reading – our bedroom is my favourite space in the house – but by the time I finished watching Netflix or working, I was always so exhausted. So, I’m making a big effort to prioritise books after 8pm when the kids are asleep. I’m about to finish Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
Coffee and tea
Stopping and taking time out to have a coffee (I’m hooked on macadamia milk now!), a cup of peppermint tea, a chai, a turmeric latte (turmeric is the star ingredient in Clarins Double Serum) with or without my kids is heaven. We’re always rushing somewhere so to actually stop, sit down and enjoy the moment is something we try and do a few mornings a week.
I went two years after the birth of my first daughter without exercising at all. I just didn’t feel up to anything more than pushing a pram. My firstborn barely slept and my second arrived shortly after my first – she also missed the memo about “sleeping like a baby”. I tried one of those exercise classes where you bring your baby and there’s a nanny on hand to care for them, but Arabella cried the whole time. It didn’t work. In fact, I didn’t feel ready to exercise until the girls slept through the night – and they took a while.
Now, I can’t function if I don’t exercise. It’s one of my favourite ways to zone out. I do a boot camp a couple of times a week at 545am and also have just started Pilates at Bodylove in Sydney’s Woollahra. Pilates is fantastic for mums and a lot gentler on my body than the boot camp. It’s also a super energetic workout! When you’re ready, find something you love – Pilates, barre, walking, yoga, dance, anything – and prioritise it. For me, fitting in exercise means sacrificing an hour or two of sleep in the morning to get up and move. It’s so worth it – exercise keeps me sane.
A weekly ritual which my mum and I do together is visit the flower markets with my girls. We’ve been doing it for years and it’s always a special start to the weekend. A couple of times a year, we’ll also get up super early and visit the big flower market, which we love doing.