Creating Me-Time - It's A Struggle!
As many of you know I am a busy person. I juggle being a mum (and a wife), running a business, teaching and studying a PhD. I often get asked how do I do it?? To be honest, I don’t really know. What I do know is that I love being a mum AND I love my work. I thrive off being busy, pushing my capabilities and helping other families lead healthy lives – yet sometimes the balance tips. Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it? I think that all I want to do is be a mum and a wonderful wife who manages to keep the house immaculate, have dinner on the table every night and take my child to mummy/baby activities. Though lets be fair, this is not the full picture of a stay at home mummy (just my pretend picture when work gets too much) and I know in my heart I want the best of both worlds – just without the sacrifices.
Last weekend the balance tipped for me. I was behind in my work from the week and needed to work in the weekend (which I do not like doing) – while being a mum, and giving the house much needed attention. There was no foreseeable way I was going to be able to manage it all well. I didn’t want to sacrifice time with Arjun, I also wanted to clean the house and yet I was really under the pump to meet deadlines for Monday. Me-Time was not even in the picture - and I was tired from a full week of work (on broken sleep). The end result was I woke up on Sunday morning and after a rather difficult start to the day with our son, told my husband I wanted to pull out my PhD. By the way, this is not the first-time I have said this and I have no doubt it won’t be the last. I feel like the mountain I have to climb with this is almost insurmountable. It has taken me six months to write my first research article - I have four more to go, and the entire PhD thesis to pull together.
Sigh….rewind to life before baby. Can you remember it? What it was like to have a shower and not have an ear out for your child screaming (or banging on the shower door) to actually be able to shave your legs, wash and dry your hair all in one go? To go to the toilet without little eyes watching you or even just finish a cup of coffee in one sitting? If I had extra work to do, I would just curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and get it done in a morning.
Do not get me wrong, I love our son more than words can describe and would work as hard as I possibly could to give him the best life we can. Yet sometimes I would just like a break – and not a desperate break but real guilt-free time out. I know how important down-time and creative space is for immediate and long-term health but how do you feel ok about giving this to yourself when you are a mum? If I am not working, or spending time with our son then there is house work begging for attention. I remember pre-baby going to friend’s houses with children and swearing that I would not allow our house to be in such a mess – and now my house is possibly worse! In fact my husband does more housework than I do as he sees this as his way to help contribute to giving me more time to work and have one less thing to worry about – yet of course I feel guilty for that too.
On Sunday afternoon my husband and I took turns looking after Arjun so that we both could actually have a long uninterrupted shower (I got to shave my legs AND wash AND dry my hair) I felt like a million dollars. But I can’t help but wonder did I need to get to breaking point for us to create that? We are such newbies in the parenting game so would love to know what has worked for you in creating me-time? I am actually taking this Friday off – completely - an entire day off while Arjun is in daycare from 9-4. Yes I feel guilty about it but also (secretly) a bit excited. I can’t remember the last time I had a day off and child-free – I’m not sure what I will do at this stage but is that not the point?
I’m going to asking some mums about this over the next week and will get back to you with other thoughts and suggestions around this topic which is often just brushed under the mat. I also encourage you to take a bit of Me-Time, and try to lose the guilt or at least know that the guilt is normal and is most likely not going away so you may as still take the Me-Time (and I will try taking my own advice here too!)
xx Dr Julie