It’s 2.05pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m walking back to the car with my daughter.
“Don’t make too much noise, your brother is sleeping,” I say as I open her door.
She nods, she knows what to do – this has been the school run routine since she started P1 in September.
And yet, moments later, my heart sinks as Ethan’s eyes pop open at the sound of her shrieking at her friend across the road.
In 10 minutes, we’ll be at home with a bag full of homework, dinner to make and a 1,000-word feature to be written by six o’clock – all while negotiating with an overtired and fractious terrorist, I mean, toddler. It’s a good job I can multi-task.
In saying that, life as a work-at-home-mum is draining, exhausting, all-consuming.
By the time the kids go to bed, I want to crawl under the duvet and pass out before it all starts again, but instead my night consists of answering emails, tackling the incredible leaning tower of laundry, doing interviews, making packed lunches.
Before I know it, it’s 3am and I feel like another day has chewed me up and spat me out.
Increasingly, frazzled mums are being told about the importance of stopping, breathing and taking some time for themselves, to preserve their mental and physical well-being.
Self-care, it’s called.
Of course, in an ideal world I would schedule in plenty of me-time - a blissful hour of solitude soaking in a hot bubble bath, a holiday in the sun, a sweaty session in the gym honing my to-die-for triceps, a Saturday morning spent at the spa.
The reality, however, is vastly different and my aspirations for self-care since becoming a mum might be regarded as somewhat modest to some.
So, here’s what self-care means to me…
GOING TO THE TOILET
Remember the days when going to the toilet was something you did by yourself?
Nowadays, with two children and four cocker spaniels in the house, going to the toilet is a team sport.
Ironically, both my children demand privacy while they go to the toilet, but for some inexplicable reason, the same policy doesn’t apply to me. I now regard the occasions when I manage to make a solo visit to the powder room as the height of opulence.
TAKING A BREAK
As far as I’m concerned, getting away from it all is the ultimate in self-care.
Before becoming a mum, I travelled through China, Malaysia and Morocco - I love nothing more than feeling the sun on my face in some faraway country.
I even got married on a remote beach in Thailand, dragging my nearest and dearest along for the big occasion.
However, we gave up foreign travel a few years ago after Grace spent the first nine days of a fortnight long holiday in Tenerife with the worst vomiting bug I’ve ever seen.
As for romantic nights away with Mr S, they were consigned to the history books with the arrival of our son.
My insistence on breastfeeding put paid to that.
Our summer holiday this year? We’re looking forward to a weekend camping in my parents’ back garden in Costa Del Limavady.
Jealous, aren’t you? After all, staycation is the new vacation.
There seems to have been a whole lot of fuss recently about someone called H.
I think he or she is in a programme called Line of Duty or Call of Duty, or something like that.
Sufficed to say, I’ve never seen it.
It’s not that I’m one of those people who smugly declares, “Oh, I don’t have a television, I find television so banal these days”.
I love nothing more than sitting down in front of the latest episode of Made in Chelsea, but life keeps getting in the way.
Of course, the television is on in our house a lot - if I’m being honest, and please don’t judge, but I use the TV as a parenting tool. It does mean, however, that I would give anything to watch a programme where Justin Fletcher isn’t the star.
GOING TO WORK
Yes, you read that right.
When Grace came along, I made the transition from full-time job to work-at-home-mum, juggling nappies, school runs and non-stop deadlines. While being self-employed gives me a lot more time with my children, it’s also very unpredictable and I can’t turn down work when it comes my way whether I have childcare or not.
Do you remember Professor Robert Kelly live on BBC when his two children barged their way into the room?
Well, that’s my life. Every. Single. Day.
I’ve been doing an interview and Grace has run into the room shouting “Mummy, I need to do a poo”.
On another occasion, I left Ethan and Grace happily watching TV so I could make a very important phone call and within five minutes I could hear my wee man crying.
Cue rushed end of call, only to find Grace had dragged her brother’s chair into the corner of the room and he was now helplessly staring at the wall.
Being in an office allows me to spend time with adults, make those important phonecalls, go to the toilet by myself and even drink a cup of tea while it’s hot, and that’s why – when my husband’s work schedule allows – I grab shifts in an office with both hands.
HAVING A SHOWER
Forget long soaks in the bath, these days I’m lucky if I get a shower alone.
Worse still, Ethan has discovered I’m at most vulnerable while I’m there and has taken to raiding the kitchen cupboard and bringing me packets of Soreen.
He holds them out until I crack and then dances merrily while I open the wrapper.
It’s far from a relaxing experience, but it is infinitely cute and very, very funny.
Fortunately for me, they say that laughter is the best medicine of all.
Lisa xTagged with: advice for mum, de-stress, mum life, mum time, parenting, self care, taking time for me, taking time out, what self care means to me
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