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New Year - New Beginning – New You?

Hayley Goleniowska by Hayley Goleniowska Additional Needs

Hayley Goleniowska

Hayley Goleniowska

I'm the founder of Downs Side Up. It started as a way of sharing our story and resources with other parents with a child with Down's syndrome. The...

They’d have us envisage angelic children dressed in white, cooing over new wooden toys, while we plan our next family holiday in sunny climes, fill our inspiring bullet journals with brightly-coloured wisdoms and simultaneously sweating it out at the gym we’ve signed ourselves up for.

I'm not sure about you, but I feel that I have only just survived the Merry Season with my sanity intact.

The children had a good time, they liked their pressies. They also squabbled and had to be prized away from screens to go on dog walks.

The turkey dinner was delicious, but we burnt the ham.

It was wonderful to get together with extended family for a house full of fun and games, but the long hours emprisoned in car journeys were grueling.

It was, in many ways, a ‘good enough’ Christmas.

The whole month felt like a marathon, children over-excited, routines smashed, too many school concerts and fayres, sleep lost.

My bank balance is looking at me over the top of its spectacles like a stern head teacher, my energy levels are depleted and I’ve now collapsed into a snotty, shivery heap on the finish line.

I can only manage to think about keeping Natty well this Winter.

Time to make some New Year’s resolutions then? Anyone?

I thought not.

Well, for me at least not in the traditional sense.

I’m too tired to set myself impossible goals that will make me feel like a failure when I can’t stick to them.

And I’m not going to turn my life upside down just because 2017 has dawned.

After all I might need some cake and duvet days to get me through January. And that’s OK.

What I am going to try to do however is nurture myself in vital, yet simple ways.

Small steps that will keep me going until the warmer weather. It’s time to invest in me.

As carers we often just carry on.

Making arrangements for a routine health appointment such as a smear, blood test or dentists’ check up might seem like a lot of hard work for nothing, or it may slip your mind completely.

Life can be overwhelming, as if we are swimming upstream, and adding more to your over-full plate might feel like the last thing we want to do.

“Fit your own oxygen mask first.”

But remember the airline mantra of not fitting someone else’s oxygen mask until you have fitted your own? That is so true for all parents and particularly those with children with disabilities.

So this New Year, instead of shelling out on expensive fitness classes, having a dry month and eating lettuce, I am making lots of important appointments that I’ve been putting off for a long time and I’m making a list of simple ways to nurture me.

It’s time for a personal MOT if you like.

I have used a pack of the children’s bright pens to write in a new-ish notebook to remind me of what my body needs, along with the shopping lists and the cute little drawings of people with arms emerging from their heads that Natty does.

It’s not quite bullet journaling, but it’s ‘good enough’ for me.

Try choosing a couple of things from the list below, use it to think of other ways to look after yourself, or ignore it completely. It’s up to you, vital wonderful you. Nurture yourself however you wish.

Happy New Year

Hayley x


‘Good Enough’ Ways to Nurture Yourself in 2017:

Book Routine Health Checks

Are you up to date with your dentist, smear tests, contraceptives or breast checks?

Do you need your blood pressure monitored?

Is it time to review any medication you are taking?

Set aside half an hour with a phone and a calendar and get booking those appointments.

Look After Your Back

See a physiotherapist and do some stretching daily.

Dust off a back brace or hip belt if you have one.

Splash out on a lumbar support for your chair and do a few of those stretches you’ve been told are good for you.

Failing that, simply lying on the floor eases my aches and pains.

Drink More Water

We all know we need to do that one.

Tap water will do, it’s free.

Get More Sleep

Often easier said than done.

I am a huge fan of the short afternoon nap mind you.

Learning not to feel guilty about it was tougher than fitting it into my routine.

Say, "No", More Often

Why do we feel so guilty when we say no to others?

Be realistic about what you can and can’t take on, know when you have reached capacity and be honest about saying so.

Get Some Fresh Air

Stick your head outside and grab a few lungfuls of air if you can’t get out for a walk each day.

Opening the bedroom windows for a few minutes to change the air in the room stops me feeling stale too.

Ditch the Negativity

Mute acquaintances who drag you down on social media.

Instead call a friend who makes you feel happy.

Life can be challenging sometimes and it’s nice to be with someone who helps you see the good things in every day.

Consider joining a positive group of parents on Facebook such as Story of Mum who also hosts retreats and online crafting sessions, or Embrace Happy where we are encouraged to realise that although not every day is good, there is good in every day.

Embrace Happy Facebook Page

Story of Mum

Carers UK – Information on looking after yourself


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