Are mums out there doing it tough? Whenever I speak to a friend, check Facebook or pick up a book about kids or parenting, it seems there is an overwhelming feeling of crisis looming. When did it all get so hard? Are you doing it tough? And what do you do to make life a little easier for yourself?
I have been in touch with three friends today who have all told me a similar story…they are exhausted, stressed, busy beyond belief and not getting enough, if any, support from their partners. And that’s just today. It’s so common to see Facebook status updates pleading for sleep or a moments peace and it seems whenever I ask someone how they are, the reply is always the same…tired, busy…completely stressed out and most commonly…in desperate need of a glass of wine.
Believe me, I also have my moments. I am a single mother about six months of the year and with three small children, it’s not always easy, however…I don’t work in paid employment outside the home (as opposed to just work my guts out inside the home). I thank my lucky stars every day that I have the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mum and I take my hat off to all the mums , especially the single mums, who work, by choice or otherwise.
So what is the problem, exactly? I have been thinking about this while doing the grocery shopping and I realise everyone is different and all of our situations vary so much these days but based on my own experiences…this is what I’ve come up with…
Why aren’t our children sleeping these days? And I’m not talking about the newborns, or even our beautiful babies…I’m talking about the two, three, four and five year olds that insist on continuously disturbing our slumber. It’s not on…could someone please do something about this?
It occurred to me walking past the pre-made lasagna (that I wouldn’t feed my kids in a fit…though I’m sure it wouldn’t kill them) in the supermarket today that all of this organic, fresh is best, make it from scratch ideology is making a lot of work for us! I spend a lot of time, effort and money trying to provide my family with the best and freshest food I can, however, last night as I was heading off to Book Club, I let them indulge in their very favorite guilty pleasure which is a Family Meat Pie from the bakery with peas and mash potato. I fed them all, husband included, in thirty minutes for about ten dollars and had hardly any dishes! I’m just saying….
I am lucky that my husband, when he is home, is very hands on…not that he has much choice, I have to say. Being on my own so much so my husband can do a job he loves gives me a certain amount of bargaining power and make no mistake, I use it! But it wasn’t always like that. Back in the old days, when I was young…I felt it was completely up to me to do everything concerning the house and children and for as little money as possible, since I wasn’t actually ‘earning’ any. As I’ve grown older and wiser I seem to have gotten over that but it doesn’t mean I still don’t feel a little hesitant and nervous broaching the subject of having some ‘me’ time or heading out for a night with the girls…as if I question whether I really deserve it. Some partners are wonderful and make it (bossing them around) easy, but some, ah, do not. How many men do you know that wake up and think…hmmm, what can I do today to make life better for my wife? Doctor Phil does…or so he says.
Are kids these days more demanding than in years gone by? Or are we just more willing to cater to those demands? Remember your own mum saying “go outside to play and don’t come back until I call you for tea?” We loved that! Remember when lunch used to be a Vegemite sandwich, a juice box (god forbid!) and an apple? Now we spend half the night making hummus and cleaning those fiddly bloody plastic snack boxes! I love kids and I’m all for positive parenting and developing their wonderful minds and imaginations through exciting and educational experiences but I’m just saying if you really don’t feel like going to the park today…it’s okay to say no…and when they ask why not…it’s ok to say because I said so!
Ah…guilt. We’ve all been there, experienced it…some of us on a daily, even hourly basis! The list of things to feel guilty about is ENDLESS…letting your kids watch television, feeding them breakfast for dinner, refusing to buy your three year old an Ipod, saying no to the soccer team to save yourself a forty minute drive at 8am every Saturday morning, eating the chocolate muffin, not eating the limp organic kale, losing your cool, arguing with your partner…Sarah Napthali tells us in Buddhism for Parents on the Go, the Tibetans don’t even have a word for guilt! It is a totally unproductive emotion. Get rid of it! Do the best with what you’ve got on any given day and make peace with it. We are not, nor will we ever be, perfect so embrace it! Yeah! Fuck the ironing!
Fun…sound vaguely familiar? You know, it’s what we used to do in the nineties! Have fun! Cooking and cleaning is not fun. Bath time is not fun (for us, anyway). Bed time is not fun…ROUTINE is not fun. Sure, we get glimpses of it during our day…a sloppy kiss from your toddler, someone remembering to fill the water filter…but I’m talking about let your hair down, dancing, eating, drinking, laughing FUN. Get some, you’ll like it! Celebrate, do something you enjoy every single day and do not sacrifice it for anything (well, within reason).
So what can we do?
Good question. What can we do to make life easier, a little less busy, a little more enjoyable…I bet you all have ideas so PLEASE share them here with us…leave a comment, offer some advice…you never know…it might just make someone’s day.
I truly believe heart and soul that the great majority of us and doing our very best every day. And thank goodness! We need mums, they get stuff done. But be kind to yourself, ask for help, demand it if you have to. You are worth it. absolutely and completely worth it!
PS I just Googled images of stressed out mums and a picture of a screw driver came up…oh dear!