Since having my son, just over four years ago, I can count on one hand the times that I have been anywhere without at least one of the children in tow. This can mainly be attributed to being been made redundant as I left for Maternity leave which lead me to making the choice to become a SAHM. I adore being a full time Mum and wouldn’t change it for the world, however as a result I feel that ‘Mum-time’ has become a rarity- an unaccompanied trip to the shops has become akin to a two week holiday in the Bahamas! I often joke that my son is my ‘little shadow’ and he is as he literally goes everywhere with me and seems to especially enjoys watching me on the loo!
When on those rare occasions I do actually get to escape and do something, regardless of how small it is difficult not to experience some ‘Mum Guilt’. As a Mum I think it is easy to feel that the children are your sole responsibility and that you should be there every minute of the day to tend to their needs – what if the person looking after them isn’t familiar with the random game they want to play or can’t understand which biscuit they are demanding? Looking at it logically we know that even if there are a few tears over having to eat a Digestive instead of a Rich Tea it’s not the end of the world, but our instinct as a Mother just wants to protect our little one’s from upset of any kind.
The last couple of weekend’s I have actually enjoyed some child (& husband) free time, for the first time in years, having attended a wedding with a friend and staying away for two whole nights in a hotel! Plus I also stayed over a friend’s house followed by a lovely girlie day in York for the Christmas markets- which turned out to closed on the day we went, just our luck!
During my time away I really made a conscious effort to try and relax and not overthink too much about what may or may not have been happening at home – except of course for calls and texts to see how things were. When I returned home and reflected on my time away I have decided that the Mum Guilt can ‘do one’ next time and here are the reasons why:
1. Dad can do it – He is perfectly capable of doing everything that I do for the children- even if he did resort to buying pre made roast potatoes and Yorkshires for Sunday lunch despite me leaving step-by-step instructions on how to make them. The children were fed, happy and to my knowledge were accident free for the duration of my trips!
2. Mum’s need time – I didn’t realise until I came home just how depleted I was. Despite having late nights and returning feeling tireder than usual I realised that I needed that time to do something I enjoy for me and having some time away. It was fantastic catching up with old friends and even indulging in a ‘couple’ of tipples (would have been rude not to!) as usually I steer well away from alcohol as in my old age I can’t handle the hangover when I have to get up with the kids.
3. The kids don’t care – I expected tears from the little one when I left and there were none! Of course this is a good thing as it would have been heartbreaking to walk away from an upset child, skipping off to enjoy myself, but it made me realise it’s me that worries more than them. The teenagers barely noticed I was gone – as long as they are fed it’s all good in their life!
4. No damage- On my return the house was still standing, hubby had managed to cook without setting the kitchen on fire, the dirty washing had made it’s way to the basket without my assistance, toys were packed away and tidy ………….everything was (pretty much) as I had left it.
5. You don’t have to be Super Mum – It’s alright to take a break. No one is going to point the finger and accuse you of being a bad Mum for having some time for yourself. Being a Mum is one of the hardest jobs in the world and a little time apart is good for Mum and the kids. It’s a full on job and we all need a break to prevent us from burnout.
In future when opportunities arise for me to go and do something I enjoy and focus on me for a while I will be much more likely to say yes – in fact I am already booked for a three day break abroad next Summer for my friends 40th! And whilst I always miss my little people like crazy when I’m away from them I refuse to feel guilty for taking a little time for me.