Olivia Horne is a Self Care and Mindfulness Coach, working with mums to bring more calm, confidence and compassion to the everyday chaos of family life. She has a degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, and is also a Master NLP Practitioner, Relax Kids Coach, and a practitioner of Traumatic Birth Recovery. Olivia is Pause’s in house Mindfulness and Self Care Expert. She lives in London with her husband Chip and their two daughters.
After university, Olivia spent a chapter working with senior executives across Education and the Arts (plus a few years singing jazz in clubs and at weddings…), then realised that helping people find their happy was where she wanted to focus her energy. So she trained as a Coach to support women through times of change and challenge.
It was her own first experience of motherhood (which in the early days brought lots of lonely anxiety, and not much magical love) that turned her passion and expertise to helping other mums look after their own needs as well as everyone else’s. Because a mum’s happiness matters to the whole family, and we all deserve a bit of magical love in our lives!
So whats a typical day like in Olivia’s world…
Now that the kids are back at school, weekday mornings are all about getting them up and dressed and fed and out. My eldest (8) springs out of bed like the Duracell bunny (takes after her dad) and my little one (5) always wants a few more minutes to snuggle under the duvet (takes after me!) but we all get there in the end.
I’m a big believer in a proper sit-down breakfast to start the day, so we’ll have a pile of scrambled eggs or cheesy beans on toast or fruity porridge. Pancakes or pastries at the weekend! I need to start my day savoury otherwise I fall into the sugar trap and it all goes south, so I will raid the fridge for leftovers. The girls think I’m weird having roast chicken at 7:30am but it works for me! At breakfast we all share our ‘wins and wishes’ for the day – how we’re feeling, what are we feeling grateful for or looking forward to, and anything we need support with. It’s so important to say this stuff out loud. The girls often muck about but I am persevering in the hope that they’ll one day see the benefit of it!
My two are both at big school now, and really thriving on the return to a more normal social/community rhythm post lockdown. As if we needed more proof this year how much relationships really matter! After drop off I either head home to work, home to exercise (on Zoom for now) or out and about to tackle some errands. If I’m lucky I’ll fit in a coffee or walk with another school mum.
Covid has changed some things workwise, though I was working from home anyway. It does mean I get to see my lovely hubby Chip much more, and we try to have lunch together if we can, though it’s usually a list of admin rather than a romantic catch up!
I really miss the group workshops – it’s how I met the gorgeous Izzy a few years ago – running a mums’ group in my front room. Such a lovely energy when we’re all in that safe space together, supporting other incredible women and propping up each other’s sanity. I hope we can get back to doing them in person one day, meantime look out for Pause online workshops coming soon!
My other working hat is as a musician – singing has always been my emotional oxygen. Live work has dried up completely with all the restrictions and I can tell you from experience that online singing does not sound or feel good! So I am making the most of the kids being out of the house to SING at every possible opportunity. Sometimes I’m rehearsing for a gig or recording, other times I just sing along to whatever meets the mood – could be Aretha Franklin or Joni Mitchell or Disney or Hamilton! The lack of live music is hard and we all really miss it – the whole of the arts sector has taken a devastating hit this year, and everyone’s lives (not just the artists’) are poorer as a result.
I’m also supporting my lovely mum at the moment, which requires a lot of practical and emotional energy. Dad died 12 years ago (a late cancer diagnosis and yes, I still miss him every day) and Mum suffers from Parkinson’s, which brings many physical challenges for her, plus mental ones, with several episodes of severe clinical depression since she lost her love. It’s always felt like part of her died that night, too. And inevitably 2020 has been utterly debilitating for so many. Mental health challenges touch every family at some point, and I too had a very dark year of PND after my first birth. Not much is said about how hard it is for the carers, watching someone you love fade away inside their bodies. It’s grief but without the death, and you feel so helpless. This mid-life stage (I’ll be 40 next year) brings the double challenge of caring down to our kids and up to our parents – it’s incredibly draining and so easy to forget who you are, sandwiched in between everyone else’s needs.
Back to the daily routine… I pick the girls up at 3:30 and it’s SNACKS then home for a bit of telly to chill out, then homework and tea. We had loads of clubs in the diary pre-COVID but I quite like the space now, so we’ll just go via the park or playground for a runabout if it’s good weather, or home for some art or Lego.
They have school lunches, so at teatime we’ll have a proper meal as I have no idea what they’ve actually eaten during the day. It often seems to feature a cheese roll. I plan all the meals for the week on a Sunday otherwise my head would fall off – I am no cook and don’t have time each day, so batch cooking works really well since I can just open the freezer and pick something out. We love a good bolognese, chili con carne, various curries and pastas and risottos, sausages, salmon… all chased down with a pile of greens. My sister (@zoekirbynutrition) is a nutritionist so I try to take inspo from her to eat the rainbow and keep everything as varied and nutrient-packed as possible. At weekends Chip dons the chef’s hat and makes a killer roast – we have all accepted that he’s much better at making the food and I’m much better at clearing up the mess – it feels good to own your strengths! I’m a bit of a clean freak though, so when I start scrubbing the door handles I need to have a chat with myself about what’s really going on.
School nights it’s upstairs at 7pm, weekends and holidays it’s more relaxed. Gracie (8) is a big reader and will get her nose into anything at all. She loves The Week Junior magazine, is really enjoying The Bolds series and this week picked up a random ‘Detective’s Handbook’ at my mum’s old flat. While she reads she’s a sucker for a foot or back massage, then takes a while to fall asleep so I’ll lie on her floor and we breathe together or I’ll make up a sleepy meditation (this calm time is a massive win for me too!). Cleo (5) will potter about with her toys or a drawing for a bit then still loves to snuggle up with a storybook, so either me or Chip will cosy up and enjoy that gorgeous time together, knowing that it won’t last forever. She then takes 3mins flat to fall asleep, job done (I have no idea what we did to achieve this).
And then we can finally relax into some grown up time. To be honest I’m so knackered by this point it’s mostly just tidy the kitchen, catch up on texts and a bit of telly.
My biggest self care choice is always more sleep, so early nights are top of my list. Before I hit the pillow I empty my head on to a page of my journal which always helps me sleep better and sometimes gives me a moment of clarity on something I’ve been tangled up with.
If I’m in that tired-but-wired space I’ll also do a body scan or yoga nidra which helps me close down all the tabs in my head. For a few years now, Chip and I both religiously put our phones to bed in the kitchen before heading to bed, and this has been life changing – for our sleep, our mental health and our marriage!
We do love a bit of telly. Before kids I was a sucker for murder mysteries and crime/psycho dramas, but since babies I’m such a chicken and can’t handle any of that stuff! Lately we’ve loved The Crown, Sex Education and the absolute unexpected delight that was ‘The Making of Frozen 2’ on Disney Plus – please don’t knock this til you’ve tried it! I fall for Bake Off and Strictly fever every single year, and of course there’s @taskmaster – brainchild of Chip’s clever bro Alex Horne . They won a massively well deserved BATFA this year and we’re so happy about the new series – never have we needed this silliness more!
Knowing what i know now the advice i would give myself at the beginning? I would tell myself, 8 years ago when I became a mum, that asking for help does not mean you have failed.
I wasn’t coping after Gracie, and I gave myself such a hard time for it. But reaching out is a sign of deep strength, not weakness – we were never meant to do this on our own. I’d also make sure I got the self care memo earlier on – the greatest gift we can give our children is our own happiness, and that starts with being kinder to ourselves – body, heart and mind.
What’s your favourite way to pause?
Pausing for me is in slow breathing, meditation, body awareness, engaged senses and acknowledged feelings. It’s in the moments in between all the madness of everyday – before you start the car, while you stir the pasta, and as you kiss them goodnight. These transitions can so easily get lost as you rush from one thing to the next. Life is intense – these pauses are my little life rafts in the storm.
What’s your favourite way to play?
Play for me is in music and cuddles and family playtime. Movie and a takeaway on the sofa with Chip. And a rare but delicious and cackly catch up with my girlfriends!