Becoming a mother is one of the most life changing experiences a woman is ever likely to undergo and as someone once said to me 'it rocks your world'. I have never known love like that I have for my children, whose lives I would lay down my own for without question. It can be beautiful and fulfilling but it can also be relentlessly tough, mundane...and sometimes lonely for those of us who have made the choice to be a stay at home Mum, particularly to a young baby and all the demands they place on you.
There is the exhausting lack of sleep, the housework and never ending piles of washing to sift through, the sibling squabbles to deal with, the endless nappies to change, the tantrums, the school runs to do, the baby who beautiful as they are often requires you to abandon all efforts to keep on top of it all in favour of some understandable attention. All of these things can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness as you wonder where 'you' disappeared to as your replacement 'you' spends everyday providing for the needs of others with little time for your own needs.
It is said, that stay-at-home Mums spend, on average, no more than 90 minutes a day in the company of other adults (excluding your husbands or partners who may do their best to support you but may not truly understand what it's like to take on the pressure of being the key carer to your children). Is it any wonder, therefore, why many mothers, particularly those experiencing motherhood for the first time, find themselves feeling alone at times? It is likely in your life before children you were surrounded by adults and adult conversation was never in short supply.
I remember my life in London in my twenties. Exciting and full of possibility, free from real responsibility, where life was all about earning a crust to support your lifestyle and planning for the weekends. I remember the bustling bars with spontaneous drinks after work with friends and colleagues in the West End and lazy Sunday afternoons in cool South London pubs after a filling Sunday lunch...
Much as I loved that period of my life, I wouldn't change it for what I have now, but I do sometimes miss the more glamorous aspects my life had to offer back then, particularly when I catch sight of myself in the mirror sometimes to see baby food smeared across my forehead and sticky finger marks on my clothes as my beloved baby squawks impatiently or yanks at my hair! My Mummy uniform of denim and leggings is a far cry from the pencil skirts and kitten heels I once used to wear.
I am not alone of course. Feelings of being 'invisible' sometimes are common. I only have to ask my other friends with young children to know this. There are days when you feel nothing more than a slave to your home and a servant to your children, where everything feels like it's spinning out of control. Added to this can be feelings of guilt for even complaining about your lot. After all, you wanted this and your blessed to have children right? So, many of us suck it up and battle through our bad days like solo soldiers fighting the war of domesticity wondering if it will ever end and will anyone even notice our failings or our triumphs?
How To Get By
It doesn't all have to be doom and gloom though! Motherhood is also hugely rewarding too and there are things we can do to make the journey through young motherhood smoother. Plan to take some time out for yourself where you can..
- Make time for coffee with friends.
- Plan a girls night out. This is a great opportunity to feel like your old you, dust off your heels and enjoy a night off from being 'Mum'.
- Take a fitness class. I have not managed this yet as am usually too exhausted(!) but many gyms now have creche facilities so worth checking out if you can find the energy!
- Join a networking club such as The Mumpreneurs Networking Club. If you, like me, have a small business, or are thinking of setting one up, then it's worth seeing what networking clubs are in your area. This is a great opportunity to meet other entrepreneurial mothers where the topic of conversation is likely to be refreshingly child free!
- Take up a hobby or a night class.
- Plan an activity like attending a toddler group. Okay, you may end up talking 'baby' to begin with but they can also be a great way to meet and gain the support of other mothers.
If you are having a tough day at home, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply get out the house, go for a walk with your child or go for a coffee in town for an hour and soak up the atmosphere around you. The washing may not always get done, the dishes may sometimes be there to greet you glumly in the morning but does that mean the world will end? Probably not. By nourishing a little of your own needs it will surely keep you sane and make you a better, calmer parent.
It will not always be so tough and eventually when your children are all at school, you will finally be able to claim some of your life back. Funny how despite it all, while some of us may whoop for joy at the prospect, many of us still wobble as we watch our little ones take their first steps towards independence and leave our side. So when that time comes, have a plan and rediscover who's been hiding under all that washing...and make it your time to shine!