I didn’t really notice it to begin with, as I have spent the last 5 years completely immersed in parenthood, barely coming up for air. It was only a few months back, when I started thinking about blogging and I was reading other blogs and looking at social media that I realised how many of us are in the same situation.
Something happens after our first baby is born. We’re immediately thrown head first into this new world, with this new being that requires our attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ve no training for it so it’s a bloody anxious time just trying to survive.
From there it’s all about the cooking, cleaning, feeding, changing, weaning, sleep training, potty training, behaviour training and completing food shops with minimal drama, and all that stress and anxiety about housework and routines and who’s turn it is to do the morning routine starts to creep in.
It’s so all-encompassing, becoming a parent. And suddenly time on your own, or with your partner has to be planned in.
Thankfully, Alan and I realised pretty early on that we’d need to take some time out otherwise one of us might strangle the other in their sleep. And though once we got the first few months down we did start booking in babysitters so we could have date nights, I’d feel really guilty and we’d be in a mad rush to go and collect Tom early the next morning in case the grandparents had a hard night with him. And even at that I would rarely spend time with friends (minus the children) or, shock horror, ALONE.
If I did ever go anywhere with friends I’d be really conscious of the time and not want to stay too long in case Alan was struggling. I definitely wouldn’t do things alone very often. Hair appointments would be booked in for the evenings so as not to take away from weekends together as a family. I would even feel guilty if I had to pop out for whatever reason, for like an hour.
I was a pretty anxious first-time mum. Who isn’t I suppose? And so it must be somewhere in and around this time, for me anyway, that my old self faded off into the background.
Oh our old selves. Young, stress line-free, care free! And we had interests! Hobbies!
I think it’s ok to grieve a little for that life we used to have. It’s normal. I probably grieve a little more than I should as I spend far too much time being sucked into the filtered perfection of social media and wishing my life was like that.
Anyway, for me it was only when Lois was born that I began to chill out a little. It’s a cliché but this time I just feel much more comfortable with it all and our lives seem to have settled into a nice routine as a family of four. Maybe its knowing that we don’t plan on having any more children and feeling like our family is complete that’s made me step back and think about me a little more.
‘How very selfish – you have a job, a house to keep, a family to look after. You shouldn’t have had children if you wanted to think about YOU!!!’ This is my internal voice by the way (though I’m sure there are people out there who will think this about me and other mums too).
I’m working on giving that guilt the finger! I work my ass off as a mum and love my time with my family so why should I feel like guilty about going off and looking after ME once in a while? I obviously accept that I can’t dedicate the same amount of time to my pre-parenthood interests and I wouldn’t want to, but I’ve also began to realise it’s ok not to want to spend every single minute of every single day with my children. I love them to bits, but I know I’m a better mum when I have a bit of ME time.
With that in mind, here’s my guide on how to re-claim YOU in motherhood:
- Make a list of all your pre-parenthood interests
- Start making time for those interests
- DON’T FEEL GUILTY about making time for those interests
- If anyone makes you feel guilty about having time for YOU (including YOU) give them the finger
- Enjoy your time with your family and your time for YOU equally
Ok maybe not that simple, though it should be. I still feel like I have making-up to do if I do any of the above, but at least I’m doing them. You should too. Whatever your interests are/were – get your ass out there and do them. I guarantee you’ll feel better having a nice balance between the old you and new you. (It’s not a literal guarantee, like you can’t sue me if it doesn’t work, but more one of those guarantees you give a friend that they’ll LOVE this new Netflix series – you know, it’s your choice if you want to watch that show, but don’t blame me if it’s not your bag!)
Let’s all give guilt the finger!