When you are having a baby for the first time, other mothers feel an obligation to tell you how it’s going to be – you’ll never sleep again, good-bye to adult company, you’ll be wearing your pyjamas at 3pm and the house will resemble a scene from a World War movie.
I remember going to a friend’s baby shower. Along with cute little games like ‘decorate the onesie’ and ‘guess the weight and name’, a video camera was set up for guests to record a little segment of their best kept motherhood secrets. Some suggested cooking in bulk and freezing copious amounts of pureed pumpkin at a time. Some suggested getting a treadmill (because you will never cope with leaving the house again). Some suggested control crying or sticking to rigid routines.
I suggested doing something for yourself, away from the baby.
What shocking advice! My friend was about to have a baby and I was suggesting dropping it off for babysitting already! How could I propose such an idea when her whole life was about to be influenced by this little being?
You can probably already guess I’m no helicopter mum. I fiercely love my children and have cherished watching them grow and learn. However, quality time with my children has been enhanced by time away from them.
For starters, my children have been able to build positive, loving relationships with other people. My kids are lucky enough to have a fun dad who is always up for tickles and jokes. They are also blessed with amazing grandparents who spoil them rotten and dote on them enthusiastically. Time away from me has enabled wonderful moments with them. And again – I am lucky – I recognize not everyone has such support readily available, but this kind of support needs to be sought out. Mother’s groups, library story time, play groups, swimming lessons, visits to the park – it’s all about making connections. You never know – you may meet someone else who is in the same boat.
Secondly, the baby and toddler phase eventually ends. I know it doesn’t seem like it! I remember thinking ‘will this kids EVER go to school?’ But as in life ‘this too will end’. And when it does and you finally find yourself with a bit of extra time – what will you do? Parenthood can be very lonely – with or without your children around. Again, we need to put ourselves out there. Whether through work, groups, clubs or just catching up with family and friends, we NEED support and something to do. I joined a running club and the positivity I gained from it’s members – from all different walks of life – was inspiring! We never talked about toilet training or bed times – we just chatted about the news, the weather, celebrity gossip – anything! I felt (and still continue to) feel like a person and not just a parent.
But what if they cry when you leave? What if they refuse to eat? What if they don’t sleep?
I know it can make you feel AWFUL and it might seem easier to just stay, but rest assured – the crying will stop. They will eat when they’re hungry, and they will sleep when they are tired. Dad, Grandma or whoever is in charge will be doing their upmost to ensure your baby is alive and well for your return (after all – they love them too!).
Most importantly, you will have the chance to RECHARGE and actually look forward to seeing your little person again. You are important – don’t forget who YOU really are.