The last couple of weeks I have been feeling angry, lonely and unsupported. I feel this way every now and then – it is a byproduct of being a single working mum of two boys especially where one has a serious health condition. As a result I know I get snappy, grumpy and tears and sometimes there is just nothing to hold back the emotions.
But I am getting better at recognising I feel that way and that I am may be overreacting (although I can’t always stop it)
So last week I attended a ditch the mummy guilt webinar by Cass Dunn which was really good, and very appropriate. It felt like she had been listening in on some of my conversations and thoughts. Lately I have been much better at self care – exercising at home as it is too hard to get out, eating better, spending more time with the kids (new things every day as per last post). But the webinar made me think about the fact that I need to do more to show my boys that sometimes I need to put me first and that it is ok.
So how am I going with ditching the guilt? I am trying to question my decisions less, I am trying to get my boys to help out more, and I am trying to focus solely on the boys when I am with them and not feeling guilty when I am not doing stuff with them (quality over quantity).
My big win though happened a couple of days ago. I have been separated for just over three years and as he works varied shifts and days in his job I have always been very flexible with when he sees the boys. And as his shifts often change I change plans so the boys can be with him or come home to me when he has to go to work. This time when he cancelled a weekend he was supposed to have the boys I advised I had plans that I could not change as I have organised a night out with friends I haven’t seen for over a year. This means the boys have to go to my exs mums for the weekend which they will not be happy about. I felt the guilt start to creep in but stopped it. I deserve a night out and, while they may not enjoy their weekend, they will get a better mum as a result. And maybe as a side benefit they will realise a few of the things I do to make their weekends better.
So it is still a work in progress but one baby step at a time I am going to reduce the mummy guilt and I hope it is better for all three of us.
Baking has always been a go to for me for stress relief, for relaxation and for a feeling of accomplishment. When I am truly caught up in my baking it is the moment that I am most mindful, totally in the moment. I love the process, I love the outcome and I love the happy faces when enjoying what I have made. I love having homemade food there ready for my friends and family and I love knowing exactly what has gone into the food.
Recently I have been baking a lot less due to lack of time and lack of motivation. But I am trying to turn things around and for me baking is part of my self care. So last weekend I put some music on and “got my bake on”. My kitchen bench (which is quite large) was filling with baked goods and the house smelt great. For anyone who has seen the Netflix series Good Girls it resembled Beth’s bench in many episodes – full of cooling racks and containers.
I made pumpkin soup, ham and cheese mini quiches, cheese and zucchini muffins and hedgehog slice. My boys had been with their dad and came home to a lot of food. I felt accomplished, relaxed and prepared for the week.
My youngest has recently taken to baking with me which I love. They both do kitchen at school but now he wants to do things at home as well. So far we have done ANZAC biscuits, chocolate chip biscuits and this week, while he has been on school holidays we made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. He loves it too and it is a great bonding, non screen activity for us. Next he wants to try a cheesecake – not sure why that has popped into his head.
So I love my mindful baking and I love sharing it with my kids. Now I just have to make sure I do it more often and remember that it is not just preparing food for me – it is taking a breath and being in the moment.
How often have you said that to someone? I think most of us would have said this many times. And when we say it we mean it. But what does it mean to the person you are saying it to?
For those who follow my blog you may have noticed that I have disappeared for about four months. My eldest son, who has some very serious health issues, has had a couple of surgeries on his leg over this time and as a result has been in a wheelchair and had many medical appointments. On top of this we had adjustments and processes to go through every day at home. It has been a drain physically and mentally for us and most days it has been doing what we need to do to get through that day. With the knowledge there is still one more surgery as well as rehab etc some days the best you can do is the minimum that needs to be done that day.
To be able to handle all of this, and drop him to and from school each day (bus was out of the question) I have been working from home since mid March and outing a have been a lot more restricted. Even things he can do physically have been difficult because of his mental health. So it has been quite isolating on some days and when I write my three points of gratitude each night some days are much harder than others.
So back to my original point – I have heard those words so many times in the last four months. And I know everyone is coming from the right place, just as I am every time I have said it. And I know for a lot of those people if I rang them with a request they are there. However given what I have gone through, and what is still ahead, my approach in these situations will change in the future.
On most days at the moment if you ask me what you can do my answer is either “Nothing” or “I am not sure”. This is not me being a martyr or thinking everything is perfect/I’m on top of everything. It is that when you are in a whirl of physical and mental health issues and are living day to day you often don’t know what needs to be done next or what to prioritise.
So here is what I will try and do differently from now on when I am speaking to someone doing it tough.
- Be specific about what I am offering – “how about I come and mind the kids for an hour so you can go for a walk/shop on your own/have a nap”
- Think of something the person won’t have time to do that can make a huge difference – “I knew you wouldn’t have time to organise a plate for the morning tea at school because you have been at the hospital so I have made some biscuits for you to take”
- Check in occasionally and not wait for them to reach out – a quick text to know you are in their thoughts can make a difference to how a day goes
- If they live close enough turn up with a coffee or go and out the kettle on and make them a cuppa – sometimes you want to hear about other people’s lives as well as have a chance to download/vent a little.
These are just my thoughts and I certainly appreciate everyone in my life who has said yell out if we can do anything. I just know that some days I don’t want to think about the next step/priority/thing I have missed and just want someone to say “I’m here and I have done this”
I have never believed strongly in making New Years resolutions.
Don’t get me wrong I believe strongly in improving myself and in being positive. I also love the idea of new year fresh start. But it always feels that New Years resolutions set you up for failure. You start with good intentions and then as life gets in the way it starts to feel like you are failing.
However I was listening to a talk on health and well being a few days ago and they were discussing resolutions and the benefit of making decisions on self improvement (not too specific) and to do it a little after New Years. The thought behind that is doing it once the pressure and business of Christmas and New Years has settled down and life has become a little more normal.
So after a week back at work I started to think about what I want for this year. Keeping in mind not being too specific or setting myself up for failure here are my resolutions for a better me that I will try and focus on.
- Stop waiting for things I have no control over. My life (and my boys lives) cannot be out on hold waiting for the unknown. What will happen will happen but we have to try and live for now.
- Work on my health and wellbeing. With a very tough year ahead for my son medically, and as a result my whole family unit, I need to be taking care of myself in preparation for what’s coming. Nothing too specific here but this includes more exercise, better food, more sleep and going back to my psychologist (note no numbers here on amount of exercise, weight loss etc)
- Try something new every week – this can be big or small – and is about putting myself out there more as well as showing the boys it is good to try new things. Next weeks new thing is donating blood which is something I have thought about for a while, other weeks it could be a new recipe.
And while I was going to add more I am stopping there before I set myself up for failure. The beautiful thing about non new year resolutions is they can be edited or added to at any time. So maybe I’ll review this time next month and adjust, or when my son starts his surgeries. And quite possibly, as I have deliberately kept them open to interpretation – they will still be just right.
Happy new year everyone – may 2019 be the year that you make some resolutions that are just right for you.
So many blogs and websites that I follow at the moment are discussing self-care and why it is so important for Mums to do something that is for them….to take time out, re-centre and rediscover, relax and rejuvenate.
While I agree wholeheartedly there are occasions where it just feels like an extra pressure being placed on Mums – find more time in your day to add in more things that will help make you a better Mum. As a single Mum of two young boys that works and doesn’t have family support nearby it is something I set out to do but don’t always achieve.
With the last weekend having been the four-day Easter weekend I sat back to review what I had done for self care and have come to the realisation that there is no formula for self care. What I think falls into this category will be totally different to what others think and do. To me self care is about doing things that help me stop, breathe and feel like me. They help prevent me from turning into the grumpy Mummy monster that needs it to be bedtime and they help me appreciate the moments of fun and laughter.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, they stop me from being the woman who is obsessively cleaning her rangehood at weird hours because it is something she can control and manage. As you may guess I have actually done this but my issues with control and organisation are a story for another time.
So in reflection what did I do over four days that fall into this category (disclaimer – my boys were with their dad for two of the days so I did have a bit more me time than normal and therefore the list is longer).
- Nails – I go and get my nails done about every three weeks. It is some time out that is not always peaceful but that makes me feel more like me, more together and makes me happy when I am typing on my computer.
- Walking – when I don’t have the boys I go for a walk – early in the morning if I can. I always listen to music so that I don’t spend the time over thinking as I often do. The loop I do only takes me about 20 mins but it makes me feel more awake, gives me more energy and gets me up and moving on days when it can be hard to get started.
- Smiling Minds – I have always been a light sleeper. Adding two children, a separation and my sons health problems have made a decent sleep almost impossible. I have now started a routine where I take homeopathic formula melatonin when getting ready for bed and then listen to Smiling Minds (the sleep mindfulness meditations on the app) once in bed. It is working really well and I am now asleep before the 8.20 mins is up. I don’t think I need to cover the benefits of sleep. Staying asleep is another story!!
- Music – Spotify is my new best friend (in close second is Netflix). Music gets me out of my head, removes the deafening quiet when my boys are gone and allows me to dance and sing my way around the house.
- Easter Egg Hunt – I set up a great Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard for my boys before they came home from their dads. My youngest had been talking non stop about how he hoped the Easter Bunny would do a hunt. The reason I have added this to the list is that for half an hour the three of us were outside, having fun, thinking of nothing else and I got to enjoy the fact that for a little while longer they still believe in the magic of Easter/Christmas etc. And that is good for my heart and soul.
In the end I think it is important to remember that while it is important you take moments for yourself and practice self-care it has to be what is right for you. There is no point committing yourself to self care that is actually adding more stress and pressure. So I will continue to bake, have beautiful nails, exercise, sleep, listen to music, dance and enjoy my boys as much as I can before they hit teenage years and no longer want to talk to me.