Your life is ‘not your own’ anymore. It takes some getting used to and sometimes you can get too used to it. It’s important to take a little of that life back for yourself.
For around 3 years, I’ve been “just a mum”. Naturally, this happened after giving birth to my first, as I’m sure it does with most women upon entering motherhood.
My children came first (they always will), my partner second, dogs third, then the home and all the chores that came with it and then lastly, little old me.
It was shortly after celebrating the 1st birthday of our second (and last) child that I actively started to make time for myself. This was helped hugely by the age of our children, the end of our breastfeeding journey, the kids going to nursery and my fiancé’s support which meant I needn’t go back to work.
I became more than just a mum… I found balance in motherhood.
Funnily enough, I started reading Fearne Cotton’s “Happy” in the middle of piecing together this post and she has a whole chapter in her book that talks about finding balance. Here are some small snippets that I particularly liked:
“Having a ‘happy balance’ is the cornerstone of contentment. Balance doesn’t make us instantly think of beaming joy and elation, but to me HAPPINESS isn’t that at all. It’s not a saccharine sweet thumbs-up, it’s a calm and considered, grounded peace.
Balance can be achieved by doing enough of what makes you tick. Life is full of responsibility and potential stress, so it’s important we find balance in it all”
– Happy by Fearne Cotton
This is how I found my balance…
My children and I take some much needed time out from each other.
This is probably the biggest factor for me. I learned that’s it’s not only okay to take time for myself, it’s needed.
Taking good care of YOU means that people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.
Read my ideas for practising self-care: Simple Ways to Practise Self-Care as a Mother.
Both of my children attend nursery three days a week, 9am-4pm. Whilst they play and socialise, I run, bend myself into Pretzel shapes, do food shops, clean the house, walk the dogs and occasionally get my nails done. I don’t feel guilty about ‘lumping’ them at nursery because they truly love it and they thrive from going.
Every now and again Granny will collect them straight from nursery and have them overnight. This allows for a rare date night and some real, undisturbed, quality time between Fiancé and I – where we pretty much just chat about how much we miss the kids, end up giving the house a deep clean and take delight in having an early night and a lie in the next day.
I keep a calm, tidy home.
Admittedly, this is still a work in progress. The amount of mess two young kids and two french bulldogs can make is unbelievable. (Yes, our pup Angus, is almost as bad as the kids for getting out all of the toys). I’m *trying* to enforce a rule of getting only one Dröna box out at a time. If you’re a mum and you don’t know what a Dröna is, are you even a mum?
I make my life easier by keeping on top of it all and cleaning up as I go along. I also have a little night and morning routine that I try my hardest to stick to.
In the time between the kids going to bed and taking myself to bed, I’ll tidy and hoover the downstairs, clean the kitchen, put the dishwasher on and sort out the next load of clothes washing.
After waking up (normally around 7am), I sort the dogs, unload the dishwasher, put a wash on, get breakfast on the table for the kids and I, and take Ryan up a cup of tea (as he’s still in bed for at least another hour). If all is going well, I’ll usually stick on some mellow music. If it’s starting to go to shit; Paw Patrol on the telly.
Tuesday’s and Thursday’s (aka non-nursery days) are our lazy days. We all do so much on the other week days that I don’t feel guilty about not doing much with the kids on these days. We’ve been known to spend the entire day in pyjamas before. On these days, I’ll try and get in 20 minutes of Yoga as it seems to set me up right for the day (that and getting through a full cafetiere). The kids love joining in and copying the poses – they also love crawling between my legs and sitting on my head (but hey, you can’t have it all). Note to self: Get the kids their own Yoga mat. We enjoy simple things like walking the dogs, cuddles on the sofa with a Disney film, getting out the arts and crafts box and spending time in the garden. Or if it all goes to shit; Paw Patrol on the telly.
I remember to laugh.
Being silly with my kids warms my heart the most. Those adorable giggles are absolutely everything. We stick on loud, upbeat music and we dance. We all get on the trampoline together, dogs ‘n’ all. We stick minion stickers to each other… and the floor… and the dogs. We enjoy dramatically told bedtime stories and I love hearing our son singing himself to sleep each night, very loudly, with his favourite nursery rhymes.
I take time away from social media.
I am terrible for always having my phone in my hand. We rant about the amount of screen time our kids have and yet we forget to put the bloody things down ourselves.
I’ll always put my phone away during meal times with family. Meal times for me have always been an important part of my day, to sit and connect with my kids and fiancé around the dining room table. The telly also goes off and we spend quality time talking about our day and planning things for the weekend ahead.
I’m also trying to detach myself from my phone even more by turning it off at 9pm and not turning it back on until after breakfast each morning. (Inspired by Fearne Cotton’s book, again). It actually feels amazing. Everyone should give this a go. My quality of sleep has improved and I’m waking up happier.
When parenting gets a bit stressful, I have to remember to stop. I have a very short fuse and it doesn’t take much for me to erupt with anger. I’ve identified that my fuse is shortest when I’m engrossed in something that takes my mind elsewhere; reading, writing, blogging, instagram. These are all things which I have to remind myself can be put down and stopped immediately, they’re not going anywhere. I then have my full attention free to evaluate the situation that’s causing the sibling fights, the dog fights, the fights over toys. (Why can’t everyone just get along?!)
Sometimes it requires a 5 minute stop; a time out for myself. I’ll take whatever hot beverage I’ve currently got on the go, make sure the kids are safe and Angus (the puppy) is in his crate (because as soon as I leave the room he will jump up onto the table and eat whatever flowers my fiancé has bought me that week) and I will go and sit on the stairs by myself. More than likely, as soon as I’m out of sight, my kids will forget what they were arguing about and peace resumes. Why do they only act up when I’m there?
It’s also good to simply stop, breathe and take in your surroundings. What can you hear, see and smell right now? I have one lone black tulip growing in my front garden which I’ve been quite fixated on the past week. It’s been a sweet little reminder to appreciate the simple things.
What works for me, will probably not work for you. It’s all about identifying YOUR own balance in Motherhood and working towards it.