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We spent the long weekend just gone at Culburra Beach with my family. We’re fortunate to have been holidaying there for many years; it’s a slice of paradise.
We spend our days lazing on the lawn in the sun. We play board games and lawn games. We fish. We go to the beach. We cook. We read. We walk. We talk. We laugh. Bliss!
The weekend was spent doing some of these activities. While doing them, I felt content. I felt happy. I found myself wondering why I felt so much more relaxed on this particular weekend compared to how I feel when I’m at home.
I realised that the difference between holiday life and home life is that I don’t feel guilty about doing fun things for myself when I’m on holidays, but I often do when I’m home. When I read a book on holidays, I think ahhhh this is the life. When I read a book at home, I think hmmmm I should be doing housework.
So many mothers feel like they’re being selfish if they spend time doing something purely for their own enjoyment, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. We feel guilty about it. We feel our enjoyment is occurring at the expense of our child. But that’s a ridiculous attitude!
When you don’t have a child, you can spend all of your spare time doing things you love. You can make plans spontaneously. You can do activities without interruption. You can plan how much sleep you’ll get. You largely don’t have to think about anyone but yourself.
Motherhood isn’t like this. You can’t clock off at 5pm and watch a movie uninterrupted for 2 hours. You can’t just duck down to the beach for a solo swim anymore. You don’t want to stay up till midnight watching movies because you don’t know how much sleep you’ll get that night. You can no longer schedule “me time.” You can’t call in sick, but you’re also rostered on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A mother needs to take time for herself when she has the opportunity because she doesn’t know when the next opportunity will present itself.
When I get to do things I enjoy, I’m a happier person and a better mother. When I feel relaxed, I have more patience. When I socialise, I feel connected and loved. When I exercise, I feel energised and have more energy to give to my family. When I read, I have new things to talk about. When I nap, I feel refreshed.
By the same token, when I’m exhausted, I have no patience. When I haven’t left the house for days, I feel depressed. When I haven’t done any exercise, my anxiety is harder to manage. When I’ve had no “me time,” I feel lost. When I haven’t had any “me time,” I feel resentful.
A mother is not selfish when she chooses to do things for herself. She is simply maximising her ability to remain selfless – she cannot fuel a family 24 hours, 7 days a week on an empty tank.
We choose to have children because we believe they'll enrich our lives; that they'll add fun; value; love; meaning. They do! When you find yourself enjoying your children, enjoying some "me time" and enjoying life as a whole then soak it up - don't counteract it with guilt.
A family reaps what a mother sows. Don’t sow 'mum guilt.' It does not reap anything of value.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.