Don't you think being a mum is all about balancing? You have to balance being a good mum and being a good wife, balance your work life and your home life, balance keeping up with your friends and your children, and balance your attention when you have more than one child. It can feel like a constant juggling act and more often than not you feel pulled in all different directions.
I am a complete all or nothing kind of person. If I'm busy with work I can't think of anything else and my housework, diet and partner all go out the window. Luckily I can fit my job around my children so they still do get quality time with me but there is always a pang of guilt that while I'm sitting at a computer (writing this) I'm not spending time with them.
But as mums I think our lives are so filled with guilt. We constantly wonder if we are doing it right, we criticise ourselves unnecessarily and we think we see perfect mothers all around us who we can only aspire to be like. The reality is they are doubting themselves just as much as we are and the perfect mother does not exist, we just simply have to be good enough. In my children's eyes I am the best mummy in the world and that is the only judgement I need. These are the things that really get to me and where I decided to regain my balance.
Capture the moment or live in the moment?
We take photos and of every single precious moment that we share with our children, many go straight on social media to show what a brilliant time we are having. Now I have run out of storage but I never see my pictures, having none printed out or in albums. I also realised I watched my children a lot through my phone screen and I remembered the picture of the moment and not the moment itself. I see it a lot at Baby Beats classes too, and instead of interacting with their children, mum's are filming or taking photos, which is fine but babies don't want to look at a phone the whole class they want to look at your face. Whilst I find it flattering that mums are making these memories at my classes, there is a limit to how many of these picture will make it into an album, if any. Now I choose my moments, I always have my phone handy to capture something special but I'd rather see it thorough my own eyes.
Taking my children to work
When my youngest boy was 6 months old I decided I didn't want to go back to work but I couldn't afford not to work altogether, so I took the very scary step to set up my own business. Running a kids class looks perfect on paper as you can take your children with you. However, the busier I got and the more classes they came to, I realised it wasn't great for them to see me working all the time and not actually being able to give them my full attention. It's been a constant balancing act with money, childcare, changing schedules and finding space to work at home but I wouldn't change it for the world. Sometimes I thought I had made the wrong decision, like when I had to miss my sons first sports day due to working. Being my own boss should mean I can choose my hours and be there for the kids right? Not when you don't get paid when you don't work! But this week I attended his Mother's Day afternoon and as I followed all the other mums and grandmothers into school I got really emotional that I was going to be sharing this special moment with him and how lucky I was. What I'm saying is I can't be there for every occasion, but I get to some AND I love my job so I think that's pretty amazing.
Making room in my life
I told you before that if I'm busy, housework is the first thing to slide. I am basically admitting I'm messy. Luckily my husband is the tidy one and he really steps up on that side of things sorting out the house. But I reached a real low when my eldest started school. Paperwork, financial stuff and school letters were all my domain and I kept saying I'll do it when I have a free day, and the day never came. I felt disorganised, stressed and I didn't know where anything was. I hadn't put non-uniform day on the calendar and when my son came home and told me I was mortified. I felt like the worst mother in the world. I didn't care if I lost a bank statement but losing a school letter made me feel like a failure, although I'm sure it's very common! My friend Rachel Huddleston runs Reorganista, a professional organising service, so I decided to ask her for help. She gave me so many tips for sorting myself out and separating the areas of my life. You don't have to be good at everything. Save yourself time, shop online, set reminders, get a slow cooker...whatever works for you. Kids take up a lot of extra time and trying to do everything like you did before will be pretty much impossible.
Still find time for you
When a busy day is over I just want to slob on the sofa and watch Netflix. It's not often that I have a night out but you can bet that I won't do anything for ages then 2 invitations will come along at once. My first thought is usually, "I'm going to be so tired", then "I'll miss bedtime" and usually last it's "but I won't get any time with my husband". However I do try to make plans with my friends if I get the opportunity. I think it's so important to still have adult time, get to finish a conversation and have a break from your usual routine. I have friends with children the same age as mine and they haven't had a night out since having kids and I don't think I could cope! Even if it's just a child-free cuppa or gym session (HA!) or wine round mine when the kids are in bed, its a chance to let off steam and be yourself. You were someone before Mum, and it doesn't make you a bad mum, it leaves you refreshed and ready for the next day. Because let's face it, it's a tough job and only a Mother could do it.