Last week I had a child sick in hospital, a house full of visiting family (which was the most appreciated timing to help me with the other two kids) and this week I have one back at school, another sick child and a husband away. I sat at my kitchen table last night completely overwhelmed. My head just couldn't get organised, I felt so alone and with the many beautiful friend's messages and offers to help out, I stared at my phone with no clue what to even ask them. Run down and sleep deprived like nothing I have experienced before, I just cried. I needed a break and some sleep desperately. I didn't care for it to be kid free or out of the house, just a day to unwind and sort out my brain. This morning I dropped Jack at school, I went home and made beds for Eva, Franklin and me on the couch and put on one movie after another. While they slept, I set my alarm for two hours and slept. While they played, I read my book and made to-do lists. I ate three proper filling, healthy meals with snacks in between and drank lots of water and coffee. Today was no different to yesterday. I was home with the same things to do, in the same situation, caring for a sick kid and wild toddler in between school pick ups. However, I didn't take any breaks because I felt guilty. I dragged my sleep deprived feet up and down the stairs washing bed sheets and returning the house to 'normal' now that school holidays and visitors were over. I had three coffees for breakfast, a crunchie bar for lunch and picked at the biscuit tin for the rest of the day. At night I accompanied my bag of chips with a glass of wine (possibly more). I felt sick, absolutely exhausted, completely overwhelmed, anxious and highly emotional. And all that for what? No one is coming over. I am home for the whole week to get Eva better and our days are full of unimportant nothingness. I made myself go through all that to possibly get myself sick, which puts me out another week and to what, show my kids and husband what I achieved on no sleep and breaks? Am I supposed to feel empowered by this as a mum? I can't believe I did that to myself. An hour each day this week doing one job at a time could have produced exactly the same outcome and I would have most likely been a much better mum as well.
If you are anything like me, one of my greatest challenges as a mum is to enjoy some downtime. By this I mean a good solid amount of time, doing absolutely nothing even if you have a thousand things to do. A quick five minutes won't cut it or even waiting until midnight when all the chores for the day are done.
It actually really bugs me that I feel guilty but when the time calls for it, I force myself to chuck on my trackies and ugg boots and sit in front of a movie.
This started after I had Jack and though the guilt is more of a quick thought that passes through me most times now that I am a bit more desperate for a break, I still make myself do it. So let me help you get a bit more perspective about your job as a mumma and get rid of the guilting feeling every time you put your feet up!
From working full time to coming home from hospital with a new baby in your arms, is a pretty overwhelming situation. Not to mention the thousands of thoughts going through your head about what you are supposed to do with a baby and how to run the course of your day. You will have days where your greatest achievement was having a shower and drinking a whole coffee while it was still hot. You will have days where you left home in the morning and got home ready to start dinner, bath and bed time. You will have days where you literally mimic the day before and the day before that and the day before that. You will have social days, work days, study days, house cleaning days, grocery shopping days, appointment days and days that combine all of these together.
While I am at it, lets think about the nights you have as well. Hands up if you have ever been up all night with your kid/s? I feel like that would be every reader. Now take away the nights that this was self inflicted staying up late for a great night out or an annoying bout of insomnia, but how many of you were up all night before kids? Again I'm going to go ahead and confidently say no one. Combine sleepless nights with inconsistent days doing your thing and wa-la! You have become a normal mum.
So you the get the picture that no day and night is consistently the same as the other right? Now think about your day when you worked full time. I'm going to generalise here as I understand that every career has different working hours but pretty much you work an 8ish hour day, you get breaks for coffee and morning tea, chat to other adults, some time for lunch and then you go home, watch your favourite TV shows and sleep uninterrupted for the entire night. I also need to point out this happens approximately five days of the week with two days to do anything of your leisure and at some point during the year and added couple of weeks free as well. Your break time is spent guilt free because you have earned it, correct?
Why is this so different when you are a mum?
Why can't you spend a few hours ignoring the pile of washing in the laundry, last night's dishes in the sink, the beds unmade, the puddle of wee on the floor in the bathroom and the rainbow artwork on the lounge room wall? You haven't slept a full night in weeks (or years) so what is wrong with spending an hour on the couch asleep while your kids are napping? Why does that making you feel lazy? Where is there a rule that says if you don't get sleep during the night thats just tough luck, the day is for awake time only? I have listened to people judge mums on sleeping during the day when their kids sleep and for what reason? Because they are actually smart for getting some rest to be ready for a night of one hour intervals of sleep or a possible three hour minimum. Because of their daily nap times, they don't have to whinge about how tired they are to everyone and can bring a different conversation to the table.
Maybe for the last four days you have been non stop and had to eat on the run or skip lunch. Maybe your child will only sleep on you and if you move then that's three hours of screaming hell you will be enduring so you are stuck where you are. Your appointment is made in the middle of the day or it's the best time to grab things from the shops because its easier to do while you child sleeps than when they are awake. If you were working that four days, that's an hour each day for a lunch break totalling 4 hours. It is day five and you have nothing on and staying at home with your kids or have a day to yourself while they are at school. If you were owed four hours of all the lunch breaks you missed the last four days, would you spend four hours doing nothing?... Guilt free?... Does that give you a little perspective?
Why don't you try and add up the sleep you have lost each night and the breaks you haven't had plus the 48 hours of weekend and see how much downtime you owe yourself. Dishes take ten minutes and the washing machine cleans your clothes for at least 30 to an hour. You have 24 hours and I'm sure you can find 40 minutes to catch up on them at some point while you take a breath and give yourself a break.
If you can't possibly take a day off and ignore the jobs staring you in the face why not plan a day off like I did today? I got as much as I could get done and left the stuff I could do tomorrow, which to be honest is pretty much everything and took the day off to rest with my kids. I still had to be mum today and feed and dress my kids BUT chilling with them had as many benefits for them as it did for me. I am a rested mum today and feel better about whatever tomorrow will bring and all the days until I get to have another break like this!
Enjoy your downtime and remind yourself that you have earned it and may not get another break like that for a little why thanks to life as a mumma xx
©The Realistic Mum
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If you love children’s books then I have written a lovely little book on clouds changing into different shapes that you can find on Amazon and iTunes. Look for the title Look At The Clouds, What Can You See?