A message popped up on Facebook. Playgroup Mums are going to dinner – does anyone want to come? A kid-free night out. A few hours without the sound of Max and Ruby, without the need to change nappies, heat bottles. A night off reading bedtime stories. Sounds like bliss! But then reality hit me. Hubby probably won’t be home in time, Mum’s working so she can’t babysit, the kids probably won’t co-operate for me to get ready in time, we probably don’t have the money to be splashing out on dinner, and a few other lame excuses came to mind. Okay I won’t go. It was a nice thought while it lasted. All of two minutes. Move on.
I put it out of my mind and a few days later we headed to playgroup. Nobody mentioned dinner until just before we left. Are you coming Amy? Oh….. I really want to! And I did really want to. So why was I being such an idiot? Why do I never make time for activities for me? If hubby is working a Saturday, we make our plans around that. If he needs to go to Auckland to deliver a package, we drop everything and go. If the kids have activities or appointments to attend, the week revolves around them getting where they need to be.
And then – only then, do I make time for my activities.
But enough is enough. Sometimes Mum just has to come first. I spent the next 2 hours trying to call my husband, because you know, it was really important. When I finally get him on the phone, I asked/told him there are no excuses left and I’d really just like to go. He mumbled and grumbled something about working 12 hours and he’d be really tired. Regular husband complaints. Seriously – lets not start this argument again, we both know going to work is a breeze compared to this parenting gig. He finally gives in, with the proviso that I get the kids ready for bed before I leave. Easy – I do that all the time.
We went to a funky little Mexican restaurant in town and what can I say – it was fantastic! I ate food I wouldn’t normally eat (I’m a three veg and meat, simple kind of girl), I drank margaritas on a week night, and I laughed with a bunch of ladies who all just get it when you talk about kids and husbands. In fact, it made me realise that sometimes perhaps men are just men, and my hubby is normal. And actually maybe I should be a little more grateful and a little less impatient. I came home happy and relaxed. Acknowledging how good I felt, I realised I definitely need to do this more often. I need to start putting me first more often.
Why do Mums put themselves last?
I used to cringe when my Mum would say “I’m putting myself first for a change”. Please Mum, you always put yourself first. Us kids never get what we want. But now that I am a Mum, I get it. I totally do! Maybe your kids don’t get what they want all the time, but their needs are always at the very forefront of Mum’s mind. Some days it just feels there is literally no time available for you. Or it feels like you’re main purpose is to be taking care of everyone else, so much so that even the thought of taking care of yourself brings on the guilt. Self-care – what even is that? We keep charging through life, working, parenting, sacrificing for others, but not realising that actually – we could be doing an even better job if we learn to look after ourselves too.
Sometimes as Mums we get caught up in what “looking after ourselves” actually looks like. We think that it means we have to make massive changes to our routine in order to fit it in. We think we have to put responsibility on others to allow ourselves the time. We think “me time” means going out for dinner, or getting our hair done, being away for an extended amount of time. And of course, these are all great examples of relaxing and having me time, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. It can be as simple as sitting by yourself for ten minutes in the morning before the kids wake up. Enjoying the peace and quiet. It can be as easy as spending ten minutes reading after your kids have gone to bed. Just ten minutes, before you start the never-ending Mum jobs again. Ten minutes spent mindfully on self-care can be better than you realise.
Why not check out my top five tips for relaxation and see what resonates with you. Is it creativity? Nature? Reading? Exercise? Or is there something else that works for you?
I love being out in nature. There is something surreal about being in the bush, device-free, forcing yourself to focus on nothing but the beauty that surrounds you. The Tongariro Crossing trip I did with my Dad was exactly that. Or spending time at the beach. Some sounds in life just clear your head, and the sound of the ocean does that for me. It just makes me breathe a little slower, and smile a little more. Which is what we all really want right?
*Image Source: Mexico Food & Liquor