PARENTING | The Balancing Act of Being A Working Mum
The Importance of Me Time
I know I’ve been going on about this an awful lot lately. But, as I’m pretty sure most other working mums know, it really is a big deal.
I am in no way saying that mums who are not working have it easy – the scales are still likely to be uneven with motherhood weighing the most. And when I say working mum I also mean mums who work from home, not just in offices/studios/wards etc.
But like I said a while ago in a different post; we are all working. Parenthood is a right graft and a job in itself.
Recently I have really been feeling mum guilt and for quite a few things. But work guilt has been the worst. As many of you already know I work on a busy hospital ward and work 3 long shifts (7am-7:30pm) per week. This means that I see Archie for a few minutes in the morning before I leave for work, then by the time I get home he’s already in bed. He’s still crap at sleeping so I’ll see him one or two times during the night, but we all know it’s not the same as spending time with them during the day.
So I know – it’s a first world problem. There are parents out there – including my husband Kov – who work 5 days a week or more and only see their children for an hour after work and at weekends. Or who share parenting with the other parent of their child so don’t see said child for days if they stay with one parent more than the other. I’m not downplaying that.
But I bet we all have one thing in common; not spending enough time looking after ourselves.
Yes, I know – we knew we had to give it all up before we had kids. And I thought I’d be totally ok with that. But I’ll be honest – I’m not. And after having a lovely day completely to myself the other week I’m not ashamed to admit it.
It might feel a bit different for us who work in caring roles compared to those who don’t. My time is unbalanced. I spend 3 days a week looking after patients, which is just me doing my job I know. The other 4 days I spend looking after Archie. On 1 of those days, usually whichever weekend day I have off, Kov is off work too so we can both care for Archie. In the evenings, when Archie has gone to bed, I spend the rest of the evening focusing on spending time with Kov.
Sounds great right? It is! I love looking after my patients and I love looking after Archie. Being a mummy, a wife and a nurse were all dreams of mine and I know how unbelievably lucky I am to have all of those titles.
But, in all of this time I have scheduled for patients, Archie, Kov and my family, I very rarely leave any time for me.
I struggle with this, and I know it sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not, I’m just stating a fact. What I am saying is that I have recently learned just how important “me time” is, and not just for me but for all of us parents.
The other week I worked on a Monday instead of a usual Wednesday, which meant Archie being in nursery on that Wednesday whilst I had the day off. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I had been feeling absolutely battered with the exhaustion of being busy at work, looking after a very active Archie who is also not sleeping well at all and trying to keep on top of life in general.
I had bacterial tonsillitis a few weeks ago, which I’ve had before and didn’t need to see a doctor – I just had some rest and it was gone in a few days. But this time it absolutely floored me and I had to book an urgent GP appointment, get a friend to drive me to my appointment in my car and look after Archie while I was seen. I had to start antibiotics and it took me over a week of shivering fevers, nausea and general crappiness to recover. I know that if I was getting enough sleep, rest and nutrition everyday then I’d have probably recovered a lot faster.
I soon went back to work and resumed looking after Archie, as we all have to, and carried on feeling exhausted and run down. It. Has. SUCKED. And I feel like I’ve barely had time to think about things other than work or baby.
So when I had that Wednesday off I decided that day was a day of treats for me.
ME ME ME.
I had a big, fat lie-in alone in my bed. I had my favourite music blasting all over the house as I got ready for the day in my own time. I went for a sunny lunch date somewhere a little fancy with myself and a book, strolled around the shops in the sun and then when I got back in my car, decided I was going to go and get the ear piercing I’ve wanted for so long. One that I couldn’t have until Archie was past a year old in case it got infected and harmed my breastmilk supply. So I went and had it done 15 minutes later.
None of this sounds like a big deal but to me it was all so therapeutic.
Being able to just have no responsibilities for a few hours and enjoy my own company, as well as do something daft like get a piercing, were all enough to keep me feeling like I wasn’t losing my mind and my identity.
So what now? Well now I’ve made a vow to myself; to plan to do this more often of course. If we could all just do this a couple of times a month wouldn’t it feel like our little reward for all our hard work?
Don’t get me wrong, I cherish being a mummy with all my heart, but I am definitely a better version of myself when I’ve just had that little bit of a break.
And “me time” can come in many forms, from going on a date night with a partner once a month to going for an early morning run for an hour at weekends. I know mums who go out and party every Friday or just stay at home to relax and read books on a day off without the kids. It can be a mixture of all of these things.
So those are my thoughts on balancing out working mum life for now. Hopefully, we’ll all see each other making time to look after ourselves soon, and that includes Dads as well.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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