Parenting has become more competitive, demanding and exhausting than it ever was. As moms and women, we have to juggle a variety of needs, requests, chores, demands and deadlines on a daily basis, an ongoing struggle that can sap all energy reserves. However, moms are so used to putting others’ first, that we find it easy to ignore our own needs. Halfway through my baby’s first year, I came to realise one important fact – if I didn’t look after myself, I would have nothing left to give to others. This alarming thought pushed me to take quick breaks, just a few minutes at a time to myself, which allowed me to recharge my frayed nerves before I could return to the craziness that was my life.
Initially, I felt bad for taking breaks away from my baby, after all I had chosen to become a mom and was committed to taking care of her 24-7. Was I being a selfish mother? I found my answer after my baby fell ill for the first time. I realised that I hadn’t bathed, changed my clothes, combed my hair or even eaten much in the three days she was unwell. After changing countless diapers, cleaning milk spit-up, changing clothes (mine and baby’s), soothing my baby to the point of exhaustion, I was a walking zombie. Frustrated, I snapped at my husband when he asked about my day and then cried because I was so tired and just wanted a break. That was the turning point for me. I had to be selfish and take care of myself if I wanted to be a happy, balanced person.
Everyone says motherhood is wonderful (which it is) but no one tell you how much work it involves. And being a preemie parent brings with it an added emotional and physical upheaval that can be gruelling. Taking a break from baby, even if it’s just a long hot shower or eating a meal in one sitting, can work wonders when it comes to getting back on track to being a loving, patient mom. It isn’t as if I need a holiday, but taking small frequent breaks allows me to be a better person, more balanced and able to cope with the pressures of being an adult and parent. Most importantly, I don’t feel guilty anymore. We need time to refresh and recharge, and reconnect with the person we really want to be instead of the flustered, exhausted, irritable moms we are now.
The best way to do this is to get some help, either from your husband, family or friends. Get a maid to help you with your chores, sharing the burden of daily chores by delegating some of the work is worth the expense. Learn to say no to unexpected requests and demands that will stress you out by adding to your never-ending list of responsibilities. On the other hand, I find that finishing a couple of tasks on your to-do list can foster a feeling of achievement and lighten your mood. Reconnect with friends, step out into the sun for a walk or work some quiet time into your daily schedule to re-energise yourself quickly. It’s important to take care of yourself and getting some downtime is critical to that process. So stop racing through the day at full speed; do yourself and everyone around you a favour by taking a break before you crash and burn.