For years my days consisted of swimming lessons, martial arts clubs, mum and baby groups, ballet, football and more activities than I care to remember. At the time, in my mind I was doing all of this to give my kids a head start in life, opening their minds to opportunities they otherwise might not have, keeping them away from the evil that was TV childcare and just being a good mum. I never took time out for myself, wouldn't spend any money on me because that was money I could spend on the kids and had VERY little time left for anyone else which affected relationships with those closest to me. What I failed to realise(or tried to hide in all honesty) was that I was always tired, miserable, snappy and just generally not a very happy mummy.
I kept telling myself that all mums did this and that it was perfectly normal but the truth is, it wasn't and isn't.
There is no job in the world that is harder than that of being a parent and as a mum of 4 I know that all too well. There is no right or wrong way to parent, its all about finding what works for YOUR family.
For us, it all came to an abrupt stop when I just couldn't keep up anymore and felt like I was drowning. I had to admit to myself and those around me that this wasn't sustainable and something had to give.
We sat down as a family and talked about what everyone wanted and the truth was, everybody was fed up. Fed up of my snapping, fed up of never being home, fed up of not being able to play with friends because of activities, just fed up! The kids were tired and actually didn't want to go to all the clubs but did it anyway because they thought it made me proud. They had toys still in packaging from birthdays and Christmas' past that they just hadn't had time to play with and missed the simple things like snuggling on the sofa to watch a film. And the truth of the matter was that me and Him were just missing each others company.
We made a pact there and then that the kids would only do a max of 2 activities a week;one of their choosing and one to keep them active. As they got older their routines and schedules changed and we worked with that. I started to take time for myself;getting my nails done once a fortnight, taking a nice long soak in the bath and having an early night occasionally without feeling guilty. As for us, we started making more time together, nothing fancy but just watching a film together or having a child free night once in a while. As a family, we played board games, went on days out and did things that we were otherwise just way to busy to do. We discovered new places, new hobbies and how to be happier.
We sometimes get caught up in routines and schedules that we outgrow but feel that we have to just continue with but actually we don't. Every so often we NEED to stop and evaluate what is going on in our lives and if our routines still suit our needs. I know as parents we think that we are supposed to simply put our thoughts and feelings to one side and carry on but do you know what SOMETIMES IT'S OK TO STOP!