So here we are at half term, which might allow you a small amount of breathing space to sit back and take stock. So how did the return to work, school and nursery go for you? Does it feel weird to be going back to some kind of normality after the year that has just been?
As with all things, mums just have to take the strain in times like these. No training, no notice – just deal with the changes as they happen and get used to it – that’s how parenting works. I bet you have learned stuff, been stretched at times, and found yourself doing things you never imagined over the last couple of years. It’s certainly been an interesting time, sometimes fun and sometimes hard beyond our wildest imaginings.
Maybe you have enjoyed the family working from home or the homeschooling so much that you have decided to stay with it, or maybe you are one of those who is singing Halleluiah and happily getting back to the way things were as fast as possible.
So what do you see when you look at the future now? Are you happy and excited about what’s around the corner, or are you sinking beneath the eternal drudgery and worry of it all?
If you are finding motherhood a bit of a strain right now, you are certainly not alone. Here are a couple of things you may want to consider to try to find your balance again.
Stay in the present
I’m sure you have read a whole lot of articles like these, that encourage you to be mindful, to keep a journal and to adopt an attitude of gratitude. If you are frantically busy or if your day just seems like one long stream of endless monotony, you are probably rolling your eyes right now and saying “not that old tripe again“.
But there is a good reason that people recommend these practices.
If you decide to buy a certain type of car, suddenly you will notice that those cars are everywhere. In the same way, if you can develop a regular habit of stepping off the treadmill of your daily life, and thinking about the good stuff, recording the things you are grateful for, or developing a meditation habit, then you will inevitably find that you notice more things in each day that can go on your record. Before long, you will start to see good and lovely things everywhere and you could find that your whole outlook will improve.
A daily journalling habit costs nothing and can take 5-10 minutes out of your day, but the benefits can be truly life changing.
Take on a Challenge
One way to get out of a rut is to challenge yourself to do something new. You will have seen plenty of walking and running challenges that became really popular during lockdown – walk the distance between two landmarks and get a medal for it.
Cancer Research is running a challenge to do 100 squats every day in November. The Movember movement has added a few extra challenges you can take on this year, for those of us who are not able to grow a proper moustache. One of my friends has pledged to jump in a lake in a bikini every day in November- she’s doing the cold water challenge (and I think she is totally mad!)
Taking on any of these challenges is bound to take you out of yourself a bit – you may get fitter or stronger, or you may get hypothermia, but it could be fun!
If these challenges seem a bit extreme and you don’t feel like you could commit to anything for a whole month, then take a look at my 7 Day Challenge blueprint. Choose your own challenge and do it for just 7 days. I bet you could do that, and you never know where it might lead to.
When I first decided that I didn’t want to go back to work full-time, I still was not prepared to be a full-time housewife either. The first thing that I did was to take on a small part-time bookkeeping job which paid me 2 hours a week at 15 pounds an hour, then I used that money to pay a cleaner for three hours while I was working.
The thing is, I really hate housework and it never seems to go away. I would rather spend time on something that I find an intellectual challenge, like the bookkeeping, than do all of the cleaning jobs. With someone taking care of the basics for me each week, I was more inclined to do the other housework tasks and other errands.
What do you really detest doing? Is there something that you could delegate to others? Maybe you could get your children involved too and teach them some new skills.
Find Something for yourself
There is often a point in parenting, where it seems like everything you do is for others. You are mum, you are wife/partner, maybe you are looking after your parents too, and then perhaps you have a job on top of that. Mums often sacrifice themselves for their children, but they forget about taking care of themselves. After a while, it’s easy to forget exactly who you are.
I would thoroughly recommend carving out a little bit of time each week to do something that is just for you. It could be something simple like committing to reading a book for an hour a day, or watching a certain Netflix series on the television. Alternatively, could you join a regular exercise class or some other social activity?
When my children were 7 and 5, I used some more of my hard-earned funds to pay a babysitter once a week, and I joined a choir that rehearses in London. Going to my rehearsals each week absolutely kept me sane throughout the worst parts of parenting and I got to talk to real grown-ups who were not the parents of my children’s friends, and to have conversations that didn’t revolve around school gossip. It was an absolute lifeline for me.
With the pandemic, the choir moved online, and I have to say that was probably the hardest part of the lockdown situation for me. I mostly enjoyed having my hubby and children with me in the house (mine are now old enough to pretty much educate themselves), but I missed the fact that I didn’t get out of the house once a week.
Going back to in-person singing this September was really emotional and so joyful – suddenly I feel like me again.
I would thoroughly recommend to every mum that they find some little thing that is just for them, whatever that might be.
Do something for others
In addition to carving out a little slice of the week that belongs to you alone, another way to bring some meaning and purpose to your life is to use your experience and skills to help others. It can be really fulfilling to Find a Mentor or Become a Mentor for others.
You could choose to help a friend or someone whom you think will benefit from your advice and experience at the moment. Or, if you feel you need some help yourself, then reach out to someone and set up a regular meeting with them.
It is always nice to know that you are not alone in this life, and there is someone who cares for you enough to help out when they can see you need assistance, whether big or small.
Think about your Career and Skills
If you are currently on a career break, long or short, while you raise your children, it is well worth thinking about what career you might like to return to in the future, and making sure that you keep your skills up to date if you are planning to return to your original field.
It may be that you have decided not to return to what you were doing before, and that leaves the field wide open for you to decide what you might do next.
If you don’t know your skills and talents, start by looking at the most fulfilling jobs you’ve had and figure out why. If there is a common thread amongst them (multiple pregnancies or birth can link different careers), that may be one place to start. You might also consider taking a personality test to help determine your strengths and weaknesses.
Even if you are not planning to work in the foreseeable future, it can sometimes feel fulfilling to dream and plan what the next step would be if you did want to work again Maybe you might want to look for some training or take some courses in areas that interest you to see if a different career might suggest itself.
Plan Your Days well
I’ve suggested a whole lot of additional things you could add to your life to give it more meaning and purpose. But of course, the secret to making this work is fitting it all in. You can, of course, decide to delegate some of your daily stuff, as above, but you also need to get quite strict with time management in order to do the things that absolutely must be done, while leaving yourself room for the new, enriching activities that you want to add in.
Finding a scheduling solution and a to-do list manager that works for you is essential, as is figuring out at which times of day you are the most productive and scheduling the important jobs which need your full attention at that time.
Enriching your life and adding some fun and some purpose to it, doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. You can be the very best mum in the world, and still have some parts of your day that are just for you, in fact, I would argue that a happy, fulfilled mum is likely to be more available for her children when they need her.
Getting organised can make a huge difference in how you feel and function each day. In addition, once you start getting more done, it will empower you to continue working towards reaching all of your goals!
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