I often joke about how taking care of four children keeps me slim and fit, but the truth is, it is not really a joke. Between them and my other responsibilities, I hit my bed every night very tired, and off to la la land, which, of course, some of them will interrupt with potty and water breaks. Not to mention that, even while they are still sleeping, my alarm would have gone off and I would be up prepping for the day.
You see, before motherhood came along, I was carefree and fancy-free, I could come and go as I liked. I could bury myself in a book for hours on end, only getting up to fetch snacks and drink, and then return to whatever world the author had created in my mind.
Yes, I had school work but I wasn’t doing that 24/7. I could read in the bus on the way back home, I could go shopping at a minutes’ notice, as long as I had the money. I was enjoying my own life in my own quiet way.
And then, motherhood happened. From fancy free, I was a mom with a baby in each arm, each looking at me like they were thinking ‘Does she even know what she’s doing?’ Well, it was a first time for all of us. They were being babies for the first time in their lives, and I was being a mom for the first time in my life too. So, we were even.
Reading became a luxury. Till date, I still have lots of books on my reading list; books that I have been collecting for years, but I have not gotten around to them.
Going out has become a task that requires some scheduling, and determining exactly how many hours I can afford to be out, before someone starts chasing me with phone calls all over town, with the percussions of screaming children in the background.
Yes, I still go shopping, but about 99% percent of the time, it is for things that “My employers” need or, sometimes, simply want.
Me time? I get that too. When I sleep and block out any noise, taps and prods of the twins, because one of my goals for this year is to sleep more, and I cannot begin to tell you how much difference that has made to my life.
Yes, my children don’t like it when I ignore them. I put off the TV and I ask them to join me in a nap or, worse, read. But you know what? It is for all of our own good in the end. When I rest well, I’m a better mom. I can play with them. I might be more willing to allow them play with my device and get up to other shenanigans.
But if I don’t get my rest, even if it is for as short as 10 minutes, hmmm, we are all in for it oh. I lose my temper easily, snap at everyone and generally don’t care that they feel bad that I’m feeling like venomous snake.
I know that a lot of moms’ lives these days are quite packed and, more often than not, women put themselves least in their priority list, but the obvious fact that most of us don’t see is, there is no priority list without us. We grow up with the mentality that, since we are expected to do so many things, then we should be able to do them. In essence, we give ourselves an infallible quality, which some of us have gone to make real, by being there all the time. While some of us realise the infallibility is only a façade; good for a time but not for every time.
In my own opinion, women are the priority list. When we take care of ourselves, we can see to every other thing on the list. Sleep does the trick for me, but other moms provide how we can find me time in our busy schedules as moms.
Ask for help
Ask for help, before your frustration boils over into anger. When you don’t ask for help, you will end up getting cross with people around you, your spouse especially.
I know I do. Because I’m wondering why I sleep later, wake up earlier, do the school run and someone is still in bed, just because his work demands are different from mine.
So, I go off, start throwing demands, getting unnecessarily blunt and if he resists, then there’s going to be more trouble. I know I can be baaad.
But you know what, when out-rightly asked for help and in the right tone of voice, there is a higher possibility of getting it than expecting your partner to be a mind reader and determining that you need help at a particular time.
Consider how you’d like to be asked for help, then do it that way. The more help you have, the higher the possibility of getting some “me-time.”
Forget to feel the mom guilt
I always remember how one of the moms we interviewed for our chat put this matter of mom’s guilt. She said, “I don’t feel it. I do what I have to do and move on. I don’t have the time for it.”
And hers is a truly busy life; dealing with raising a teenage boy, prepubescent young lady, running a rapidly growing business, and being a wife who cooks all her husband’s meals. That, aside from other family and business responsibility that come up out of the blues regularly.
So, at the end of the day, she doesn’t even have the luxury of time to waste on feeling guilty for not being everything to everyone and doing everything for her babies.
I knew how long it took to pin her down to a date, and how many dates it took to complete the interview, because of the numerous interruptions that came our way.
An aside… she still does the school run.
Mamas, stop trying to quench your guilt by over-doing it.
Find what works for you
It is not every mom that needs to sleep to reinvigorate themselves. Some prefer to some nice exercise, some take a stroll, read a book, get some spa treatment (if there’s time) and there are so many other interests that can be pursued.
For this mom, Helen, who is a health coach, teaching others how to live a healthy life, she found out that she wasn’t exactly doing what she was preaching. And that was hard to do, considering she had to singlehandedly parent 3 children, aged between 12 and 7.
But when she was breaking down with stress, she started leaving as soon as she finished work. No more extra time. She now heads home, where she makes dinner, looks through home-work and gets the kids off to bed earlier than usual.
So, what does she do with the extra two hours she now has on her hands? She started a small garden in her backyard and that is where she retires to, potting around, feeling the smell of earth, and just enjoying herself.
Afterwards, she goes to sleep a happy woman and wakes up ready to take on the world.
Gardening works for Helen. What works for you? Find out, and do it.
Protect your “Me-time”
Even if you decide to clear the sink first, you have to be stingy with your time by steering clear of unnecessary activities that would tie you down and deny you that time you have carved out for yourself.
Mama, heaven won’t fall if you decide to take a break here and there.
Pamper yourself. You’re more than worth it.
God help us all to take this to heart.
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