However old our children are, we have to put a lot of time and energy into looking after them. From the day they are conceived
, we have another human being who is reliant on us for their survival, growth and development. We don’t just have to provide food and warmth for them, but everyday we have to make decisions that will affect how they turn out as adults. We wake up with them in the night, if they are scared, ill or unhappy. We listen to them when they have things they need to talk about. We take them wherever they need to go. We are always there for them.
I used to think that life as a mother would become easier as my children grew older, but in a lot of ways, they are just as demanding now as they were as a babies. The difference is what they are demanding and what they need from me. I feel like I spend all my free time driving one or the other of them to different activities and appointments, buying them clothes or uniforms, opening my house up to their friends and then cleaning up/nagging them to clean up afterwards. The amount of washing doesn’t reduce either.
But what is important is that we, as parents, look after ourselves too. This week is “Self Awareness Week”, which is why I’m writing this. I meet so many parents who live for their children but are breaking, physically and emotionally, because they have no time or energy left for themselves. They get up with the kids, run around after them all day, or go to work and then run around after them, and then spend their weekends being Supermum. There is no time to recharge, and many mums are running on empty and falling apart.
Although I get a lot pleasure from spending time with my children and don’t feel the need to go on holiday without them, I still need to do things without them to keep me sane and healthy. I work out regularly throughout the week, I try to meditate daily and I see a counsellor once a month to dump all my emotional baggage. And every so often I meet up with friends and have a meal or a drink or two.
You see, it doesn’t take much to look after yourself, but YOU HAVE TO DO IT as nobody else will do it for you.
If you don’t like exercise, find another class that you could do in the evening, or when the children are at school, but make it something that you’re going to enjoy as opposed to something practical. If you do go out, try not to drink too much as it will just leave you feeling rough and make being a parent harder the next day. If you can’t get out of the house, shut yourself in the bathroom and have a long relaxing bath with a good book, or audiobook. Take a look at what you’re eating, because if you’re just picking at junk as you fly around, you’re not giving yourself the right fuel for your busy life. And if you’re feeling low, talk to someone, don’t let your troubles weigh you down. (I love going to see my counsellor because I am paying her to listen to me moan, so I don’t need to feel bad about boring her, and she’s doesn’t try to fix things, or judge me.)