Monday 19 January 2015

The perfectly imperfect parent: choosing 'me time'

You know that when you become a parent, life will change. Of course. Everyone tells you it will and you're not silly - you know that life as you know it will be different once a bouncing baby comes into the picture. How could it not?

Change isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Change is good. And becoming a parent is probably both the biggest and the best change you can experience.

But you're still you.

You don't have a complete personality change overnight. Yes, overtime you may become a know-it-all when it comes to Timmy Time plot points and have a new found interest in talking gibberish, but you still, by-and-large, like the same things you did BC - before child.

So, it's an obvious thing to an outsider perhaps to say that you need time to be 'you' now and then. But as a parent, this is a concept that often comes with a big old helping of guilt.

Time is a rare thing when you're a busy mum and there's never enough hours in the day it seems. If you're like me, you'll find yourself with a bit of a split personality at times, keeping one eye on the little one and ready to read a book / play cars / stop them from falling into the fireplace at a moment's warning, and another on your iPad / the TV / painting your nails.

Day to day, the only time to do the things you need to and want to do is to find a way to do them that either involves your children or can be done when they're around.

Either that or wait until they've gone to bed. Which, in the case of Ethan, would be far too late.

On Friday, I had a day off as I had to swap my usual non-working day due to a meeting that had been scheduled. The nursery couldn't take Ethan on that day so hubs looked after him in my place, which meant on Friday, he was still due to go to nursery as normal.

Now, I could have taken Ethan out of nursery and spent the day with him, as I usually would on my usual non-working day. But instead, I decided to make the most of my free day.

I'd wanted some time for a while just to potter around, twiddle with my blog, catch up on some reading, write up some recipes, plan a few things in my diary, set our family planner and so on, such is the geek in me. And some laundry, washing up and other household bits and bobs.

But I felt guilty.

Guilty because I was extremely excited by the thought and freedom a day at home, on my own, would offer.

Guilty because shouldn't I be the one to look after my child, if I'm free?

Guilty because any time with Ethan is special. Of course it is.

I did feel terribly selfish but I realised that having 'time out' is a good thing. It's not a commentary on me as a mother. Of course, I'd choose Ethan over anything and everything. But having a worn out, frazzled or unhappy mum isn't what my child deserves and as silly as it may sound, having a few hours where I could do anything I wanted without having to make a compromise could and did make all the difference.

That's right. I'm Kelly and I'm a perfectly imperfect parent. I admit that sometimes, I need my own space to do my own thing. Or nothing. Whatever I feel like. Because usually, my day is set to a timetable and what can seem like a never ending cycle of cooking, cleaning, tidying, playing, nappy changing... so having some time to myself is rare but needed every now and then.

We all need to take some time away, whether it's a bath at the end of the day or an afternoon at the cinema with our other half once every few months whilst your little one is with family. 

We need it and they need it too. So they can learn how to spend time with other people. So they know it's ok to be apart. So they can experience new things.

So we can both grow.

And it really is ok.

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