When I was at varsity people couldn’t get enough of advocating the study / play balance (don’t go and party too much but by the same token don’t stay indoors and not enjoy varsity life) and then there was the work / life balance which most of us ignored while scrambling up the corporate rungs. But in this stage of my life I think the concept of a mom/life balance needs to be explored.
At this stage in your life there are at least two people you are trying to be, if you’re married, there’s a third. You’re trying to be a mom, a wife and you. The you part is unfortunately the part that goes missing first. Sometimes it’s followed by the wife/partner/ spouse part. Somehow the mom part clings on for deal life.
What’s so hard here is that you’re fighting not only yourself and societal pressures (probably) but also the expectations you have of yourself. These have been created subliminally over the years although maybe only having been awakened recently. And the worst part is there is no tougher critic of you than yourself. It’s like being a teenage girl going to a party and panicking about what you look like when in reality everyone else at the party is also worried about what they look like and whether they’re acting cool. I often see myself through other mothers’ eyes or the eyes of my mother and find a million faults.
Coupled with your own critique is the ever present self-doubt. Should they eat this, if so, is it too much, or too little, too early or too late. Should they be outside today, but what if that sneeze is a cold or pneumonia or what if it’s not and they miss out on Vitamin D and an amazing experience.
So in between of all of this in-fighting and constant worry about whether we are parenting well enough somehow we, the people we are outside of our roles as partner and mother, get lost.
What I have realized, or what I’m realizing, is that you cannot be the best mom version of yourself or the best spouse version of yourself unless you look after you.
You’ll probably only notice that you’ve gone missing when you are too worn out to go out with the kids, or you haven’t slept in days, the washing is piling up, you can’t concentrate on long stories or your husband’s work woes and you snap at the kids but you can’t figure out what’s wrong.
When you get to this point STOP. Stop immediately and go find yourself. It will take a while and it needs to be a constant process but you’ve got to start. Make a start with 30 minutes as soon as you can, if you’ve got more time to spare, spend as long as you can. No kids, no housework, no husband, no drama inducing friends, just you listening to your own thoughts or drowning them out initially. Do anything, go anywhere just make sure it’s something you like.
There is only one rule. By the time that you-time is finished make sure you have the next one lined up. It has to be like that or you will sideline yourself.
In this way you will start to remember what you like doing, what makes you you and it will give you the energy, perspective and desire to continue in those two other full-time roles.
What you decide to do is completely up to you, it could be 30 minutes sleep, walking around a shopping center alone, going for a run, a facial, reading a book, watching a movie… Anything that you enjoy and gives you some breathing room.
It’s so hard to take time out for ourselves but it is so necessary. The longer you take to do it the less likely you are to. If you are feeling overwhelmed, uneasy, not yourself you need to take a break.
You know I’m right!