“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens could have been writing about raising kids when he wrote these words. Because while it is the single most fabulous, authentic, amazing and important thing you could ever possibly do in your life, it is also ridiculously hard, tiring, worrying, expensive and sometimes not much fun.
If you’re in the parenthood realm, then you’re doing some hard slog. There are never enough hours, dollars, ear plugs and toilet rolls in the day (what do they do with all that paper???). You cannot know what it is like to really clean a house until you’re a parent. Did you even know where the laundry was before you had kids? And can you remember when a meal was something you ordered, not planned?
When you’re in the midst of motherhood – whether it be in partnership or on your own; whether you’re biologically linked to the kids or just sleeping with their father; if you’re in paid employment, work for yourself or not at all; whether your yuppy or hippie; vegan or alien; blonde or brunette – doesn’t matter, you’re in the land of hard work. You have incredible demands on your time, your wallet and your patience. This is not a whinge; it’s just a statement of fact.
So fitting in me time, couple time, exercise, or even a lucid thought is going to take some major planning and even a bit of psychological warfare, mostly with yourself, to make it happen. Doing anything other than what has to be done (which generally looks like work, chores, dinner, washing, but not nap, eat, walk, swim, drink) is absolutely out of the freakin’ question because you are so freakin’ busy and tired. Right? Actually, no, but we’ll come back to that.
I work with wonderful women who raise with me this problem of feeling constrained, constricted and burdened by the absolute sheer weight, clutter and challenge that day-to-day life of raising kids and paying a mortgage brings. It puts their marriage under strain, as well as their wellbeing. And here is what I say to these ladies: “You are in the middle of it. Smack bang in the hardest working period of your life. So is your husband. So give yourself, and your hubby, a break. It’s hard, hard, hard work. It’s OK to admit it. And then take the pressure off.”
Remember life before kids? It was all about you – because there was no one else to consider. Time wasn’t an issue, and nor were decisions because you didn’t need to consider anyone else, let alone keep them alive and raise them! Incorporating healthy practices, meditation, exercise, a morning routine and amazing food is a piece of cake when you don’t have kids in tow.
That’s not to say we should use parenthood as an excuse not to try and make those things happen though. The opposite is true actually – we should move Heaven and Earth to make them happen because we need them now more than ever. It just takes more commitment and organisation. It takes dedication to the cause – which is you: your health, happiness and vitality. You have to mean it more when time is not on your side. And you need to accept that your efforts might not look the same as the efforts you see posted on a blog by someone who doesn’t have kids.
Start by give yourself and your hubby/partner a healthy dose of recognition and gratitude for the effort and commitment you are both making. Acknowledge the pressures you are under and consider if it is all necessary, or are you playing the martyr and making life harder than it needs to be?
Make a decision to make changes so that your life feels less like hard work, struggle and sacrifice. How do you want your life to feel? Joyful? Light? Energized? Prosperous? Peaceful? How can you create those feelings day-to-day?
Celebrate the lifestyle you are creating, the family you are nurturing, and honour your own value and worth as a part of that process.
Motherhood is a tremendous gift, but don’t feel so obliged to honour the miracle of the lives you created, that you forget to honour the miracle that is your own life too.