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Post PhD Submission...The Struggle to Recharge

It’s been nearly 2 months since I submitted my Doctoral thesis. I would like to say it has been butterflies and rainbows; but at times it’s almost been the opposite. I was on a massive high for a week or so, and then the reality sunk in….the fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks, to the point I would have to crawl back to bed when ever both boys were miraculously asleep at the same time during the day. The overwhelm of needing to deal with everything that had been outstanding for….months. Most of all my boys….my very brave boys who had been without me there 100% suddenly were off day care and desperate for time with me – and while I was equally desperate for time with them too, my reserves were so low, I was having to give while my own tank was blaring red. Each day felt so long, felt like a mammoth effort just to get through.

Mentally, I had to do a 360 turn around from a high powered writing machine, running on adrenaline and incredible pressure to…well… being mum – just mum. My biggest achievement some days was that my children got bathed and into bed. While this is ACTUALLY an incredible achievement – where did my over-achieving type A personality find its sense of purpose after such an emotionally challenging battle to get my thesis done?

AND – I am not done! I am in a waiting zone, until the 3 separate reviewers read my 50,000 word baby which takes about 3-4 months, then I get set a date for my oral defense (integration of my research) – only once I pass this am I officially granted the Doctor title. So I have been left feeling like what is there to celebrate…really? As I write these words I know it’s totally irrational, but I have really struggled with this.

On top of all this I also have to ‘find’ myself again. I have been the mum that worked 7 days a week – including every evening after the kids go to bed…now what sort of mum am I? What do I want? What do my kids need? How do I become a wife again and do proper nice wifey things?

At times, I have almost wished that I could be writing my thesis rather than trying to find a new normal. It was hard but simple – just write and sleep and write and deal with the kids at a survival mode level. Figuring out a new normal is a lot more complex than that; trying to find that ever elusive work-life balance. I can tell you (from fresh, harsh experience) that trying to figure that out, or even think about it when your reserves are low is almost impossible.

I am sharing this because it’s the raw authentic truth about finishing my Doctoral thesis.

I am sharing this because it’s a constant battle we face as mums – creating time for ourselves and working out who are we really? Our children’s needs grow and develop and we have to constantly adjust, figure out what is right for our families while somehow holding on to our own needs and/or careers.

I am sharing this because I did not take any time for myself at the end of my thesis – I was too wrapped in guilt of all I had missed but it was a very detrimental choice because as a mum you just don’t get space to full your own tank…hell you don’t even get to pee on your own.

I am sharing this because there may be other mums who’s tanks are also on empty and feeling very alone.

It was when our boys went back to daycare that I got some mental space to recharge. I was able to sink my teeth into launching my new book recipe (Healthy Easy Dinners for Busy Mums) which really helped give me a sense of purpose. I also went to Wellington recently, a trip gifted by my sister as she knew just how much I needed some time away – my first real holiday PhD-Free and child-free in 4 years. Oh it was divine. I literally felt like parts of me were put back together again. In return, I have been a much better mum since.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing but I would empress on you, if you are reading this and feel like your tank is too blaring red – do something that fills it up, don’t wait, there will never be the right time, enough money and your children will always have something on that they need you for. Fill your tank, restore yourself physically and mentally – we are not an endless bank that we can withdraw from, I KNOW how hard it can be but you deserve it no questions asked!


xxx The New Mum's Nutritionist

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