Finding Balance as a Mum
Finding Balance as a Mum
It’s Not About Having It All
Sometimes as a mum you’ll feel like you’re drowning in everything that needs to be done. The washing is piling up, you’ve barely spoken to your husband all week, you can’t remember what it feels like to get a full night’s sleep and the only exercise you get is walking back and forth from the change table.
Finding balance in motherhood can seem impossible. And I think it’s time that we give up the quest of achieving balance.
Because what is balance really?
No matter where you are in your motherhood journey – whether you’re a first time mum with a newborn, a mum of three kids with one at school, a full-time working mum, working part-time, or a stay at home mum – you’ll never find a true sense of balance. At least, I don’t think you can.
When we think of balance we think of a perfect even split. We think we’ll have time to work, time to exercise, time to spend on our own, time to bond with our kids, and time to spend with our partners. We think we can have it all.
We think each day or each week will be the same. But I’ve found that every day looks a little different. And no two weeks are the same.
Sure, some days I feel like the perfect mum. I have lots of time to devote to my son. We eat good food together, we play, we read and spend lots of time outdoors.
Other days, not so much. I’m tired and not prepared to deal with his tantrums. He only naps for half an hour and I miss the break I usually get while he sleeps.
Some days I feel like I spend the whole time dragging him around with me while I get errands done. And all he wants to eat is toast and hummus.
There are some days where I rely on the TV too much. And as helpful as Moana is when I need to vacuum, I don’t want to plonk my toddler down in front of the TV every day.
And then on work days I don’t get to spend much time with him and the few hours we do spend together are filled with either getting ready for the day, or getting ready for bed.
And that’s just time with my son. It’s not even going into my work-life balance, the balance of self-care and exercise, or time spent with my partner!
I think most of except to feel a loss of balance in the early days.
Newborns require so much time and care. It’s normal for new babies to want to be held all of the time and for new mums to feel like they have barely any personal space.
But we expect that as our babies grow, so will the spare time we have. We think things will look more normal or that things will start to look like our old life. And for some people that may be true, but for most of us I think our lives never look quite the same.
It’s ok to miss the way your old life worked. It’s ok to miss the freedom and the flexibility you had pre-baby. But try not to get hung up on it.
It’s going to be a long time before you get that same freedom and flexibility back. (And I’m certainly not ready to think about my babies being all grown up and living in their own houses).
Adaptability is a huge part of being a mother. Babies are always changing and growing, you can never figure out what your toddler actually likes because they change their mind every day. If you want to find any kind of balance as a mum then you need to be able to adapt to whatever is happening every day.
And that’s the only way that you’ll start to feel like you’ve got everything under control. You need to learn to adapt what balance means to you. As well as adapting to the different things that happen and need to get done each day.
And in trying to feel at least a little balanced, here’s some things to remember:
It’s ok if your house is messy sometimes (or too often). The laundry can wait and the floor can be washed tomorrow. Maybe don’t put the cleaning off forever, but don’t worry about living in a spotless, perfectly clean house.
If you can, hire a cleaner. if you’re kids are old enough give them something that’s their responsibility. Even if it’s just unloading the dishwasher or putting their own clothes away.
Feel like you’re lacking in time to yourself? Find ways to practice self-care that don’t take too long – wearing a face mask, doing a little bit of yoga, meditating while baby sleeps. Or you can involve your little ones by taking a walk together or relaxing under a big tree at the park.
It’s possible to get pockets of time that look like your pre-baby life. I personally felt more balanced when I went back to work, three days a week, although I know this is not the case for everyone. The commute gave me time to read (I missed books so much – reading Mem Fox & Paddington Bear books isn’t quite the same) and I could go to the gym on my lunch break.
But most importantly, if you want some kind of balance, never be afraid to ask for help. You shouldn’t have to do it all on your own – even if you’re a single parent. There is help available, whether it’s friends, family or paid help.
Don’t feel guilty for the days that feel completely unbalanced. It’s completely normal and is simply a part of life.
All we can do is try our best. Some days will feel great and other days won’t.
Motherhood isn’t always easy. In fact it’s often messy and chaotic. No matter how unbalanced your life feels know that you’re doing the best you can for your little ones, and to them you’re their whole world. They love you no matter what. And every day is a new day that will look different from the last.
You might not have a perfectly balanced life that allows you to have it all, but having a child or children to look after is pretty darn special.