Thursday, July 26, 2012

Do It Because You Can

Charlie and Beth playing in the garden
I spend a lot of time thinking about where I can snaffle some time to myself. I probably spend too much time wishing I had more time. Irony, anybody?

It seems that getting some time to myself means having to deal with the associated guilt. It's "mother's guilt" isn't it? And I wonder where it comes from, who puts this guilt on me, or do I do it myself, and how do I shake it off?

"A research team led by Roy Baumeister, PhD at Case Western Reserve University found that guilt strengthens social bonds and attachments (Psychological Bulletin, vol.115, No. 2). They found that the basis of guilt is actually the ability to feel others’ pain and the desire to maintain connection to the group."(From It is nice to think that it is actually a positive thing, but it doesn't feel good does it?

When you think about it, we all do so much, whether we are Mamas at home with our kids, or Mamas at work part-time or full-time.I suppose if you are at home, as I was for a while, you can take a slower pace, and though you may not get much time to yourself, you don't have as much of the added "rushing" that a working mum deals with.

My least favourite part of the day is when I am getting ready for work and my children need me. I'm sure their dad is capable of helping them out, but, for some reason, I'm the "go to" person first up, every time. It frustrates me. I'd like to choose what I'm wearing for the day, iron it, put it on, moisturize, maybe put on some mascara and lippy, some jewellery, my shoes, all without interruption. I can't remember when I last had a no-interruptions dressing session.

We can all tell the same story of wishing we could go to the toilet or have a shower without being interrupted by a child.

So, to be able to deal with the constant demands of motherhood, especially when our children are small and dependent, and if we spend  time working out of the home, we must have respite. I don't think we allow enough of it, do we? Finding a balance always seems too hard. You want to go for a walk in the fresh air, on the beach, anywhere, but your child needs something, or wants to come too, or you think it is more important to vacuum the floor, put on the dinner, catch up with the laundry. You think about going to a gym class, one that you know you will enjoy and will make you feel good, but when you consider how much time it will take to drive there, do the class, and be away from the family at a bad time of day, you decide it is just too hard. A friend asks you to have a drink/cuppa after work, but you feel your children need you, they've spent all day at daycare, or school, you should be at home with them, so you decline...

Does any of this sound familiar?

It certainly rings true to me. I often put myself third,fourth and last when it comes to my time. But I think it has to change. I do need respite, if I'm to function and cope. It, I, am important. Important enough to allocate some time to myself.

So here is the plan:

Get Nurtured:
Yesterday I went to acupuncture. It's over an hour of relaxing (yes, getting needles poked into you is very relaxing), and I get nurtured. My acupuncturist is a caring,nurturing woman. She gives me care that no one else can give me. I spill my guts to her - not only about intimate bodily functions, but emotional ones too. She listens, she doesn't hurry me. Then she lets me lay down and induces relaxation for me. What's not to love?

Being nurtured is very important. We,as mothers, do so much nurturing, we need some too.Get a massage, a facial,a scalp massage at the hairdressers, a manicure, whatever you feel will nurture you. And do it regularly. I go to acupuncture every two or three weeks.

It does cost money - but seriously, you are worth it, aren't you?

Spend Time With Girlfriends:
Spending time with other women is in itself nurturing and uplifting, and just so important. We need to feel connected to other women, not just our families and children - other women who identify with our lives. Every month I go out for a drink with some women from work. It's a great way to unwind and de-stress (particularly about work stresses). I also meet my fellow knitters once a month - another great way to connect with friends, and to talk about all sorts of things, and do something creative at the same time. And now that I'm back at work, I've teed up Friday afternoons(after work) to have a drink with a couple of close friends who are also working. It isn't a child free event, but it is a nice way to unwind after working all week, and a chance to connect.

Get Away every Now and Again(on your own):
I've always felt it is important to go away by myself, for me and for the family. It is healthy for them to have a couple of days to "fend" for themselves, to have Daddy as their "go to" guy, to do fun bonding stuff with their dad. I know it isn't easy to get away, but it is worth the effort. And everyone loves it when you come home refreshed and so excited to see them. I haven't done it for ages(especially since Charlie was born), but these past holidays I did, and it was lovely. I have a knitting club weekend in about a month.Can't wait.

Make Time For Exercise:
As much as this one is one of those things we all know is super-important, it's still very hard to make happen. I find it really difficult and I know how much better I feel if I get some. So, I've tried to organise it to fit in with coming home from work.That way I don't have to worry about childcare, and I really have no excuses (as I always find some when I get home). So I'm stopping at the pool two afternoons a week to swim laps. I love it - it feels great and is relatively easy. I also go to a Yoga class which is on a Sunday afternoon,every two weeks, which is a great time. I love what yoga does for me - it's so much more than physical. However,I still can't seem to fit a regular yoga practice into my day... I know I still need to do more exercise, but it's a work in progress.

So just DO IT (sorry, that sounds like an ad for running shoes). Make yourself a priority. You deserve to feel good, rested,relaxed and well. And your family will benefit from it too.

Now, I just need to take my own advice.

Got any good ideas?

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