Perhaps you wake up to the sound of your children, or you wake before them but still feeling worn out. Do you have to wait until they are sleeping again to find any mental space? Whether you too are in the middle of rainy summer holidays, or needed almost constantly by a baby or combination of children, work and home- it can be really hard to get any kind of breathing room as a mother. Sometimes it is our busyness that leaves us bouncing from thing to thing and sometimes it’s just the stage we- or our children- are at, but finding ways to breathe, relax and live our days with freedom within those limitations is crucial for our wellbeing.
Finding mental space when you’re surrounded
Each stage throws up different challenges whether your days are filled with nappies and housework, or you are elsewhere all day. Here are a few ways to help you find that breathing room when you feel surrounded.
- Work out what you need. Need rather than want- I would love hours to myself in the peace of the morning but if I really stop and think about what I need, it’s some designated alone time. It doesn’t have to be an hour- just ten minutes is fine as long as you know it is coming. For you it might be that you need a time to sit down with a hot cup of tea, time to exercise or prioritise being outdoors. Work out what you need in this specific season and implement it so you can make the most of the benefits.
- Ditch the guilt. Maybe you feel bad if you aren’t with your children all of the time. Maybe you feel like you have to do something productive during naptime or when they go to bed. But if you need to, leave house a mess but you go to bed early, have a bath or read- do it and ditch the guilt.
- Make it part of the routine. A hang on from naptimes that turned into resistance in our house is having some down time after lunch. Often it’s just watching a film together and cuddling. I make sure to spend some quality time with them like this before allowing myself some physical and mental space if I need. I like to sneak in a bit of reading, journalling or painting during this time. This is part of our rhythm so much that they’re quite unsettled if we are out of the house for that part of the afternoon!
- Embrace small pockets. If they are playing happily for five minutes- sneak into the kitchen or grab your Mama Book for a few minutes of peace.
- Build habits- one of my favourite things is to just note down a couple of happy things from the day that I want to remember before going to bed. I put it on the joys side of my weekly spread in the Mama Book. I’m making more effort to go through photos each week and starting to print them for our summer scrapbook- just start somewhere small and keep at it, soon you will have new habits that help you embrace the chances you have.
Seasons where you feel surrounded can feel overwhelming but recognising that it’s a stage, not forever, and being able to step back and reflect on what exactly works and doesn’t work for you is really helpful. Of course it is also great to relax and enjoy the quiet once they are in bed, but there are ways to find some space in the midst of the chaos too.