I love love love being a Mummy, mostly, although sometimes I would like to have a pee without an audience or perhaps eat chocolate out in the open rather than in the fridge; however, I love the kisses and the cuddles. I love watching them grow and achieve, I love the funny things they mispronounce and adore spending time with them. Nothing fulfils me more.
Sometimes though, I feel tapped out!
Do you ever feel irritated and you can’t think why? Or maybe you just need a little distance from a clingy toddler or a hot cup of tea? Tapped out is a term I heard when my eldest was around 18months. She wanted to be held all day and rocked to sleep all night. When my husband would come home from work he would instinctively try to comfort me with a lovely cuddle, it would feel like I was still giving. I felt frustrated, tired and unable to give much more. I felt guilty for feeling overwhelmed, I should be so grateful to have a family who loves and needs me so much, but instead, I was thinking of running away with James McAvoy on a motorbike.
But that’s ok, I promise.
Imagine your energy is like a phone battery: If you’re lucky, you might start the day with 100%
Making everyone’s breakfast -5%
Remaking everyone’s breakfast in the right bowl -10%
Eating breakfast whilst having a toddler on your lap -5%
Getting everyone dressed -8%
Two children on your lap while you watch Pepper Pig play football for the 15th time -20%
And so on and so forth, until you’re running on empty. As parents, we tend to go where our babies need us, we respond without thinking about ourselves until we’re quite literally crying over spilled milk (that actually happened to me but, in my defense, I’d spent 45 minutes pumping an ounce of that breastmilk).
So, here’s the thing… charge yourself! Ok so you can’t stick a USB in your ear (no really don’t) but you can grab some energy back. The first thing you have to do is realise how important you are, once you realise that, you can value this time and allow it space in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a co-parent, trusted friend or family; communication is key.
The next thing to understand is that there is a big difference between quality recharging and distraction. A good rule of thumb here is that anything that can give you peace in the moment is good and anything that takes you away from the moment isn’t quite doing the job. Watching Corrie and trying not to fall asleep feels relaxing but it’s very much a distraction. Whereas popping out for a 20-minute walk around the block while listening to your favorite album will give you the headspace you need.
Here are some further suggestions that you can adapt to your lifestyle or circumstances.
Gardening, planting new plants.
Walking along the beach with no shoes on.
Writing in a notebook about your day.
Listening to a meditation or practising mindfulness
Yoga at home or in a class
Reading (especially good for the car with a sleeping baby in the back)
Crafts like sewing, painting or learning something new.
Dancing badly with full gusto.
The list of things you can do is endless, and each activity has the aim of giving you energy. Alone time is better, but I’ve always found a good dance-off with the kids is a great way to bring some life back into the day. Doing things for yourself may seem a foreign concept but it’s about building into your daily routine until it’s a habit.
Feeling tapped out does not make you any less of a great parent, it just makes you very human. You’re doing great! Being a parent is hard sometimes, you’re important, so value yourself.
Children are a gift, a truly wonderful joyful gift, treasure them and yourself.
By guest blogger Victoria Griffith-Jones. Psychologist, mum and all time awesome person.