Today has been a tough day of Mum-ing. I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with other things happening in life, whilst still trying to give focus to my two little ones. My 3-year-old sat at the table chatting to me through breakfast and I barely heard a word of it. My hand was holding the bottle feeding Little Miss, but my mind was absent. How do you cope when you just feel like Mum-ing is the last thing you want to be doing right now?
Don’t get me wrong, my children have been delightful in the last 24 hours. In fact, unusually well-behaved. I’m not overwhelmed or all Mum-ed out because they’ve drained every last energy bubble from me (not today anyway!). It’s just everything else. Life challenges filling my mind, clouding my ability to be a fully present, attentive mum.
It’s moments like today when I daydream about having a full-time job again. 40 hours of work, where I can zone out of my personal life and pour all my focus into my work. I know some people have trouble leaving their personal lives at the door when they work, but I would much rather do just that when I’m having a bad day. It’s actually something I do well. Although my mum calls it putting my head in the sand.
When I decided I wanted to be a part-time worker and a stay-at-home mum part of the week, I was drawn to the idea of spending good quality time with the girls. I wanted to be more present in their lives whilst they were young, catch some of the milestones that only come around once. It came as a surprise to me, because I had always been very career driven. I poured more than 40 hours of productivity into my job. I loved what I did. But I knew the opportunity to be with the girls while they’re little is a one-time only offer. Once they grow past this stage, there’s no going back. And I knew it wasn’t forever. So I took a leap of faith and quit part of my job.
What I didn’t realize was that my mind needed to be kept occupied. I needed mental stimulation, more than what mum-ing would provide. Which is how this blog came about. For the most part, this has kept me busy enough to enjoy each of the roles I play. Quality time with the kids, working in the gym, and writing at home. But occasionally, like today, when my personal life is starting to drag me down, it’s just that much harder to block out the issues when I’m at home. I can’t seem to zone out of it all and focus 100% on my girls.
Thankfully, these days I am much more aware of what is going on. I feel like I have an outside perspective of where my mind is leading me for the day. So I make plans to accommodate my troubled mind. I give the kids activities to keep them occupied. And you know what – I might even just employ the TV babysitter for a while. I don’t undertake a hands-on craft activity that needs my full concentration. I do what I have to do to get through the time.
Often I will try to get out of the house when I’m feeling like this. I enjoy the drive as much as the destination. Over summer we spent a lot of time at the playground by the lake. The playground is fully fenced, and Little Miss would normally be asleep. I could sit with her in the pram and watch Miss Toddler play and explore, knowing she was safe and happy. I didn’t have to talk. I didn’t have to move. I could just watch and know that she was enjoying herself, and I wasn’t imposing my troubled mind on her daily experiences.
Other weeks I would drag myself to Playgroup, so that Miss Toddler could have interaction with other kids. I always knew it would be worth it, no matter how I felt beforehand. Regardless of what is going on for me, I try to minimise the effects it has on my children and their day.
There have definitely been some hurdles to climb since I became a part-time-stay-at-home Mum. Some days Mum-ing can be loads of fun and I really know exactly why I made the decision I did. Occasionally I struggle to keep my head above water. But for the most part, I love the way my life is right now. Momentary struggles come up like today, but I know they will pass eventually, and when I look at my life as a whole, I have so much to be grateful for and be happy about. I know I will never regret making the decision to spend this time with my girls. Mum-ing can be tough, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.