Updated: Nov 7, 2019
Hands up who misses hot drinks, and breakfast most mornings? Who gets to eat mouthful between doing something else? And who has to share what ever food they do get?
I do, miss all those things, the life we had before. A leisurely Sunday morning, after a full nights sleep. Or even not much sleep as we were out to a restaurant for dinner or a bar for drinks. But I would not change it for the world. But I would like a hot cup of tea or should I rephrase that , I get them hot, I would like to consume a hot cup of tea, while hot , heck I will take luke warm at this point. Im lucky if I get stone cold, as most times on the clean up ( never ending rounds) of the house, I find full cups that I never even got my lips too. I have a friend who said she even bought a flask and pops her beverage in there , but even with that , she doesn't get it hot.
But that is motherhood, cold tea and burnt toast. And we would not have it any other way. Well, maybe a spoilt day of breakfast in bed, but even then , I would be worried about crumbs in the bed. This is along side baby spew, dribble ( not saying whose ) cat hair and all manner of dummies, muslins, those little bears holding soft squares and the odd calpol syringe. Because we would give them the world and thats that.
But this wee public notice is to remember its ok to look after yourself. Ive been sick, one thing after the other, pulled muscle in a broken back, followed by tummy bug, followed by mastitis and back to tummy bug again. House full of kids, everything does the rounds at least twice. It's highlighted how run down we as Mums get, when finally something stops us in our tracks. We run on empty, heck mostly fumes sometimes if they aren't sleeping. Because we have to , there just isn't the help or the time to stop.
It's also highlighted the need for the village around you to help you out in those times. Having people around you, you trust so that you can let go and look after yourself, even if its 20 mins in a hot bath with the door locked and ear plugs in. We really must learn to look after ourselves and ask for help and accept help. And give ourselves a break, like a kitkat. See there is good example.
Take 5 - when they are asleep , sit down. I know when they are bigger it is hard to justify the sleep when they do as they only go down for what can be 45 mins and there is laundry and this and that to do. But I have found whizzing round and doing everything then getting to sit down, they inevitably wake up just as arse hits couch. So take your break first. Get on the phone and ring someone for a chat or flick through those funny videos that pop up on Facebook. relax a minute and then go do what ever you can before they wake up. Its like dessert first.
Make a list - once you have had your break, then do the stuff you need to, lists are wonderful. With baby brain ( it is a real thing ) it can be frustrating that you know there is stuff that you need to do or people that need calling in my case and poof, you have time but not brain power to remember what or who. I have a white board that I jot a note on as it comes and then I know its safe. I have lists everywhere, in order of things that need doing. There is nothing more satisfying as crossing things off. There doesn't have to be a time frame , but just getting something done can make you feel good. I always write make a list at the top and as I finishing writing list I can cross something off immediately.
Let you baby play around you. - As I have said before I get on the floor. At night when she's asleep I get to sit on the couch and thats another relaxing thing I guess as it means I really can sit down. But during the day she plays around me. As a nanny , having observed there is nothing worse than a child needing stimulation all the time, when they are older they bug you for something to do, I'm bored etc. Don't get me wrong I ALWAYS will have time and make time to play with my child. But you need to encourage them from a young age to explore and entertain themselves. I tip the toy box out and let her go to town in there, things everywhere ! I have an activity available for older ones. The train set comes out or play dough or painting, chalk on the driveway etc, bubbles!! Things that aren't always out to keep the novelty. So that they lose themselves in it and you get a few minutes to just watch them or take a mental health minute.
Eat with them- not only is this great for them watching and wanting what you have , but when they go for the big sleep ( hopefully ) you have freed up some time to do nothing. If they are older, get them to help to choose lunch and make lunch and clean up with you. It's all a game for them and you get an extra if not small pair of hands.
Car sleep- if they are in the car seat , in the car and happen to fall asleep , find a nice view, pop on classic fm ( helps them stay asleep and you to relax ) and let them snooze while you day dream or catch up on emails from the front seat. If you know they need a sleep before you go somewhere leave an hour or so beforehand and sit in carpark. A well rested baby is a joy to take around the supermarket verse a screaming , over tired frustrated one. I don't advocate car seat naps all the time, it can be bad for their backs. And learning to only sleep in the car seat can ruin a cot naps ( as it doesn't rock then sleep ) and allow you time in the house , etc.
Escape plan- It can be a certain night , you have arranged cover and you escape , to a class, a book club, the gym or even just to the bathroom or bedroom to soak with a book or snuggle with one in bed. Even when you are in the house, you are not there. My problem is by evening , I don't feel like it and just want to slump onto couch. But forcing yourself up and out and doing something just for you , gives you back your identity and surprisingly energy ! So find a hobby, an interest, reclaim something you did before, a club / sport, a jog around the block. Im getting back on my bike ( loved riding ) and attempting a pilates class ( bad back above comment ) . I would love to horse ride again , but see bad back comment as to how I got it, think bareback on a beach, fell off fractured vertebrae !! But find something, anything that pops the zing back in to your step without your baby.
Date night. - I know that cover above is mostly your other half, so organise alternative babysitter and go out together. Movies, ( I haven't been in years and miss it ) dinner, even just coffee and or ice-cream ( or both ) away from the house. Reconnect. I have found rule of thumb, first 10 mins talk about kids, next 10 mins talk about how your days were ( yours will still include kids ) then no more mention of children. Before it / them you used to talk about everything else , so do that. You will feel human again as you will have used your brain and it didn't involve how many bowel movements they had to day and their consistencies. Even if you choose not to have a partner in your life, Get a friend out and about , all of the above conversation rules apply.
Go to bed early - yes you want some time that isn't sleep eat repeat and thats just them. I totally get it. As a nanny I saw the inside of my works home , more than I saw my own ! As I worked, came home and went to bed only to be back at work it seemed. Thats why removing yourself to a class etc makes you have a moment that is yours. But if you need to , it's ok to just go to bed for a stretch so you can claw back some sleep. When I say a stretch , I mean a week. Every night if you need to , just go to bed when they do. Your partner will understand. In fact probably they will thank you as when you come out of your hibernation you will be a happier person that they can interact with. Not a zombie , who is trying to do everything for everyone!
Pamper yourself - something little that makes you feel good. A facial even if it's a home one. Get your hair done, nothing like the head massage after they wash your hair ! For me its nails, I get my nails done , no matter what I’m wearing , ie spewed on or covered in her snack that morning or how I'm feeling , I look down and my nails are pretty. You can do them yourself or get it done . My lady has it to a fine art of 20 mins so either bubs is sleeping or if awake doesn't get bored ( take toys ) I change colour every few weeks and it makes me feel good. I also throw in eye brows, but thats not so relaxing, but looks nice. Put make up on. Im not a make up person, don't get me wrong, I love having it done professionally or by a friend but I can't do it myself so mascara is about it for me. But even that, a slightly wider ( awake ) eye can make me feel a wee bit human. Hint to nearest and dearest, the best present they can give you ever, is baby sitting and a spa day !
Mums need to be kind to each other but mostly to ourselves. We have to be creative and organised to carve out little bitesized moments in the day and night for us. But it is worth it for a balanced in everyones lives. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of them , and everyone else it seems. You put them first and you always will ,but a moment of self love is needed in order to do that. Be a wee bit selfish, it's ok , I'm giving you permission , you got this !
Side note nanny tip - when in supermarket , let them help. Even my wee one at 9 months loves being in the trolley , holding on to something that she can't break or squish. Later she will walk around with the list or counting out the oranges and helping with the shopping. Some major chains even have fruit for them to have while they wander. Eliminating the sweets request at the check out. I leave a good amount of time to allow the slower walking. But the list helps with reading, the counting with maths and the helping with self confidence.