So, I’ve really neglected my blog in the past several months. MASSIVE understatement! I’m sorry dear followers and those kind enough to take a passing interest. I’m planning on making a comeback now. The marathon is long over, and I’ll round it up in another post. My part-time work, which I do from home, is at its busiest point in the year. So, shock revelation time:- it’s all a tricky balancing act, this parenthood lark! And I’m only now starting to find my feet with it, hence a tentative return to blogging.
It’s taken a while for me to be able to sufficiently, and (I think more importantly) confidently, multi-task. I think as The Munchkin has gotten bigger, I’ve relaxed a bit more. He’s not the tiny newborn who I was terrified I would break. He’s engaging in things more every day, and he makes me want to do the best I can by him. So, gone are the days when I would spend most of my time in the house, cuddling him on the sofa – not that this isn’t still much needed, it is, it’s just we manage to do other things as well now. We go out on walks to find buses (he LOVES a bus), we go to Bookbug to sing our little hearts out, and we go to a nice playgroup (hark! they DO exist, and I’m the most surprised of everyone to learn this). I feel more confident just getting up and going somewhere with him, no plans needed. It also helps that we sometimes have access to the car, so we can go a bit further afield. Lunch in Marks & Spencer café, a drive to the beach, a trip to the zoo. The world is our toaster, and it’s great!
I’ve started to try to get us in to a better routine, and it is definitely a big positive for us, not to mention my general wellbeing. I used to struggle to get up at a decent time (as did the Munchkin, after restless, teething nights…), so by the time I’d got us downstairs and breakfasted, a good portion of the morning would be gone. We didn’t get to playgroups and Bookbug because of this, as most of the time they are in the morning. I felt I wasn’t giving The Munchkin enough interaction with other kids his age, especially as he is home with me all day and not at nursery. I knew this needed to change.
I have a very love-hate relationship with routine, and felt very guilty about not being in a routine for the first year or so. I know it can be, and indeed is, beneficial to kids, and I wasn’t doing it. I think it takes everyone their own time though, and I have very much been (and continue to be…hello co-sleeping and breastfeeding!) baby-led. And it takes time to be happy with this, and comfortable with your own decisions about what’s best for your family-life.
I know something is definitely going to come along and bowl me over again, such is the nature of parenting smalls and life in general. But I feel more equipped at the moment to deal with it, at least most days. Let me share what I wish I’d realised many months ago about how to keep on top of life as an anxiety-ridden mum-of-one…
- You are not super human. You are a mum. Amongst many, many other roles we have in life. Give yourself a break. So what if you didn’t get up until 10am and breakfast has turned to brunch? Just try again the next day. So what if you don’t have a solid night-time routine? Just go with what works for you, and if it’s not working then try different approaches until you find what fits. You don’t have to have everything sussed out right away or all the time…
- But you also don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Your little family is very unique and as individual as you. One size does not fit all in parenting. One size does not generally fit all in most of life, so why does this continually surprise us? Take what advice helps and park the rest. You’ll feel so much better for giving yourself permission to be right about what’s right for you and your family.
- Get up and out there! This one if still difficult for me, but I am trying and it does help. Having anxiety and OCD is hard, and it does not make me the most confident person. I would happily spend all my time at home, only venturing out and about now & again as needed, and more specifically, only to do things I want to do. But that isn’t fair on The Munchkin. And actually, it’s not fair on me. It’s good to get out there and get fresh air, see people, hell sometimes even CHAT to people. I know, right, who knew? I really feel that making it out the house a couple of times a week to organised baby/toddler activities has really helped my confidence as a mum. And more importantly, it has been so beneficial for The Munchkin. He absolutely loves to play and sing, and I enjoy watching and helping him do these things. But I can only do that if I get us out of bed and out the door on the allotted days, which thankfully is becoming easier.
- Give yourself days off. This is probably nearly as important as the above, and also encourages the above. We have a day or two a week with no plans. So I know I’ve got those rest-type home days coming. And it makes me want to get out and do things when we have them planned, and I don’t feel guilty about having quieter days the rest of the time.
- Let your little ones entertain themselves for a bit. I used to find it so difficult to put. The. Munchkin. Down. So, I struggled to get anything done around the house (never mind actual work!), and this impacted on my husband too. Which wasn’t fair, as he comes home after a full day and cooks for us, he shouldn’t have to come home to washing & dishes too. Now The Munchkin is a wee bit older, I can see him happily entertaining himself whilst I make lunch, empty/load the dishwasher, wrangle with never-ending laundry piles, etc. And when all else fails, I know ‘Justin’s House’ will entertain him to let me get something done! And I do not feel bad about this at all. And I think we are all happier too. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I complete the household tasks during the day. I know this probably isn’t much for a lot of people, but because of the thought processes my head tends to go through, it can be a big deal for me. The next stage is to get on with cooking and cleaning whilst The Munchkin plays – I’ll keep you posted!
- This is related to no.5. Put The Munchkin down to nap. Now this has been very tricky for a couple of reasons. For starters, he usually feeds to sleep for his daytime nap/s. And it was lovely for me to have that time to chill out. But I’ve come to realise that I don’t need that chill out time all the time, and actually I’m a lot more chilled out overall if I get some work done whilst he is napping! The timing of it does not always work out, and that is the other reason it has been difficult. He doesn’t have a regular naptime, and usually only has the one longer nap, so it could be difficult to predict when he would need it. But over time, I have realised the cues and figured out how to make sure he is either A – in his buggy, B – in the car, or C – upstairs in our bed, so I am not left holding an adorable sleeping baby! And I can get some work done. Total game-changer. I know this stuff isn’t rocket science, and you are probably wondering how I’ve got this far, but it is honestly a big deal for me to have worked out my own way of multi-tasking whilst not feeling guilty about it. Win-win.
I think those are the main things I’ve embraced over the last couple of months, and I have felt so much more positive for it. There is still plenty I can do to make things easier on myself and better for all of us. First on the list is to get our nighttime routine into an actual routine (no ‘Game of Thrones’ for us at the mo!). But there is time for this, and I am feeling far better about allowing things to take their own course, and tackling things one at a time.
So, what tips can you give a mum struggling to do it all? What tips can you give me?! How do you get your cooking & cleaning done? How do you get your little one to sleep ALL night? I’m all ears. No GoT spoilers though, ok?