Being a mum is tough sometimes. By the end of the day we can be touched out, drained, out of answers to relentless questions and overdue for a break.
I definitely don’t have all the answers. I yell at my kids far more often than I would like, use shows as a means of escape and back myself into a corner with discipline issues all too frequently. But I do know that a family is only as happy as its least thriving family member, and if Mum isn’t loving life, it is probable that everyone else is struggling as well.
I’m learning how important it is to take time to recharge, energise and gain all-important perspective again. Wine will only take you so far, particularly if you wait until a socially respectable time to start indulging!
The actual ways we recharge may well be different, but if I can at least hold the space in the conversation – encouraging other mothers to discover for themselves the paths to their own inner equilibrium – that is enough for me.
(While I write this my children are using an iPad to cast Zumba music at full volume onto the TV screen so that they can dance. And I’m feeding my youngest endless cubes of cheese to get her through crazy hour. So I clearly have this thing down.)
Here are some of the things I do to regain the critical essence of what it means to be human (and not just ‘Mum’).:
1. Listen to a Podcast
I’m a recent convert to the art of podcasting, but I wonder lately how on earth I did life before!? There are podcasts for every interest and inclination and for self-help junkies like me – look out! My personal favourites are On Being with Krista Tippett, What Should I Read Next with Anne Bogel, and the Robcast with Rob Bell. For those who are less nerdy, however, I hear there are countless story or serial driven options if you just need some escapism while you are doing the dishes, watching the kids play, driving somewhere or hanging out the washing.
2. Do Yoga
Ever since last October when I stumbled across Yoga With Adriene on YouTube, I have become a firm fan of the ancient mindful practice. When I first started I could barely hold my body in a plank position for a few seconds, let alone balance in a tree shape. Now, however, it has become a daily thing I look forward to and the kids barely look up when I press ‘play’ on the video except to maybe copy a move every now and then. I love that it forces me to slow down and take deep breaths and just ‘be’ in the moment. I’m not into any other physical activity and I had salami and olives for breakfast this morning (and nuggets and chips for lunch) so this is pretty much the one thing that is saving me from obesity right now!
3. Write in a Gratitude Journal
For a while there I was using this almost as a ‘weapon’. Whenever I would explode in fury at some frustrating occurrence or altercation between the kids, I would excuse myself, grab a pen and frantically start writing things that I was grateful for. It got to the point where Eli would interrupt my torrent of words with a calm, “I think you need to go and write in your book, Mum”. That helped to calm me down, of course. As a more holistic practice, I do find that it helps me get out of a funk when I can’t seem to see beyond the nose on my face.
4. Make a Cup of Tea
And by tea I completely mean wine. No, actually, I have started getting back into tea and found that in the mid-afternoon making a warm drink for myself and a hot chocolate for the kids can get us all on track again. They all sit at the bench and slow down for a minute or two, and I get to have a moment of peace (if I actually get around to drinking the tea while it is still hot, that is!). It does also narrow the often insurmountable gap between the end of ‘rest time’ (and in Hudson’s case I use that completely ironically) and wine o’clock.
5. Go Outside Into My Garden
Winter isn’t the most alluring of times to head into the cold, but the short distance to the backyard and the fact that I’m investing time into something that will yield edible ‘fruit’ are two points in favour of this activity. I let the boys loose with the secateurs this afternoon and they pruned with relish. Ivy just ate unripe strawberries and handfuls of dirt but we were all occupied and happier for getting outside. Apparently there is some science behind the microbes in dirt being a natural anti-depressant as well, so win-win.
6. Go to a Cafe (By Myself)
In terms of pay off, this one takes the cake. Just getting a chance to sit in a warm, comforting space while sipping a (still) hot drink is incredible, let alone the chance to catch up on a book or delve into writing uninterrupted. Thankfully, Dave is pretty generous with letting me get out and it has become a ritual that I relish and appreciate. Even a half hour escape is good for the soul and I come home energised and ready for the next onslaught that is raising young children.
Edit: Clearly my maths skills need a little work as I only just realised I gave six examples instead of five. Oh dear. Long day.
Ok, now over to you – what do you do to
stay sane recharge in the midst of this crazy stage of life (or another equally chaotic stage of life without kids!)? No answer is mundane – if it works for you it might work for someone else! Looking forward to reading about your experiences!