As mums, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to guilt. We can feel guilty about how we feed our children, how we get them to to sleep, how much TV they watch and how much quality time we spend with them. I don’t think guilt is always such a bad thing. It has its place in reminding us about our own values, and if we’re staying true to them.
But when it comes to taking time out for ourselves, I don’t think guilt has a useful place at all. I’m a big believer in the importance of us mums getting the space to breathe and take stock. Getting some time away from the kids does wonders for the soul as well as our perspective. It is also good for the kids to have some time with another carer besides us.
So, if you ever catch yourself thinking the following things, congratulations! You’re completely normal.
Here’s 5 things you shouldn’t waste time feeling guilty about:
1. Wanting a break from it all
The thing with parenting is that can be so relentless. Kids by their nature are needy and aren’t too interested in how busy your head is. Mine just keep asking me more questions, despite my harassed look: ‘Mum can I have a drink?’, ‘Mum, can you draw a monster?’, ‘Mum, where’s the iPad?’, ‘Mum, I need a wee!’. When I tuck Mr B up in bed at night, I feel really envious, watching him snuggle down into his blankets and cuddling his teddies. I would love to disappear into a big cuddly bed full of teddies. At 7.30pm. Maybe I should look into it. In any case, it’s completely normal to feel like escaping now and then. Motherhood is full-on. If you feel like a break, see what you can do about taking one. You’re not alone on this one.
2. Looking forward to bedtimes
Speaking of bedtimes, do you start watching the clock come late afternoon, counting down the minutes until your kids are sound asleep in bed? From what I hear, most of us mums do this. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or want to spend time with them, it just means you value your re-charge time. You give your family the best of you all day. You will hit the wall at some point – I call it wine o’ clock. Enjoy your downtime in the evening. The next morning, you’ll feel refreshed enough to greet your little ones with a big ‘I missed you!’ smile. Well, you will after a coffee, anyway.
3. Wanting to do some things without the kids
For me, this is grocery shopping. There is a huge difference between going to the shops for milk and bread alone, and going when you’ve got children with you. One is easy and the other is really shit. To start with, adding a child to the mix will easily add half an hour to the expedition. It will also double the spending on groceries. It may or may not include an emergency hunt for a toilet, the loss of one toy that I should never have let them convince me to bring out of the car in the first place, and the replacement of shoes on feet at least twice. Sometimes I just want to get milk and bread.
4. Being a working mum
Whether you have to work to bring in the money or you choose to work because you love it, there’s a good chance you enjoy the adult time you get when you go there. If you’re like me, you even enjoy the bus ride to work, because a) it’s full of other adults, and b) none of them want anything from you. At the end of the day, working means you’re providing for your kids, which isn’t such a bad thing. And if you love what you do, the kids will benefit from your positive energy, as well as learn along the way that work can be very satisfying. Also, it’s very likely that people at your work will call you by your actual name, not ‘Mummy’. Bonus.
5. Relishing in friendship dates
I know myself enough to know that I need time out with friends. It might not happen very often these days, but when a friendship date gets booked, I am very unlikely to break it. I encourage my husband to go out with his friends because I know it keeps his happy bank full and rejuvenates him enough to come home with a smile on his face. It’s the same for me. Getting out with a close friend gives me much needed space to vent and laugh and experience the real world for a bit. The best thing is that as well as touching base with a good friend, I miss my kids like mad, which is a welcome change if they’ve been driving me up the wall.