If there’s one thing in life that I’m really shit at, it’s balance. Not just in the physical sense – which explains why during yoga ‘standing tree pose’ always becomes ‘falling flat on my ass pose’, but also in the mental sense – which is why I will never have a pair of jeans that fit exactly right, because I’m either living off spirulina powder, sunflower seeds and fierce workouts, or practically bathing myself in a tub of nutella everyday. I give it my all or I give it zero percent – none of this 50/50 business here. It just isn’t my forte. And that’s okay, except for that as I grow older I’m noticing that balance seems to be a key part of most – if not all facets of life.
If you’re a mum, you’ll totally understand the guilt that comes along with the word ‘balance’. Everybody says it’s imperative that mum gets time to herself, in order to keep herself sane (PS, I use the term ‘sane’ very, very loosely). But the amount of guilt I feel when I leave my daughter in someone else’s care is comparable to the amount of guilt I feel during the weeks when I’m eating a jar of nutella for breakfast lunch and dinner, except if the nutella was calling out ‘mama’ and holding out little chubby baby arms everytime I put it back in the cupboard. (Sometimes it does, I swear). It eats me up inside knowing that I’m leaving my daughter so that I can have some ‘me time’. And what even is ‘me time’ anyway? Should I be exercising during that time? Shopping? Cleaning? Sitting on a park bench, watching netflix on my phone and inhaling doughnuts? What constitutes ‘me time’? Some mothers I know spend 90% of their time working, and they barely get to see their precious little bubbies. And that makes me feel like an asshole for even talking about having ‘me time’! I’m a stay at home mum, every day is me time, right? (Nooooo…..unless your version of ‘me time’ is listening to Giggle and Hoot manically chatter in the background as you attempt to stop a small wriggly human from smearing peanut butter on the walls and filling every available crevice with biscuit crumbs, while simultaneously trying to cook dinner, clean the house – jokes, I gave that up ages ago – do the laundry and read ‘Play time with Sophie’, during which you’re getting hit on the head repeatedly with wooden blocks and sticky hands).
And I’m not complaining. Alright, maybe a little bit. But only because I am struggling so hard to find the balance between looking after myself and looking after my mini-me, (also two yappy dogs and soon-to-be two chickens, but who’s counting?) without feeling guilt for splitting my time. Every time I think I have it figured out, Lila goes and throws a baby-sized curve ball at me and I have to rejig the schedule again. Throwback to six months ago, I was getting in a 30 minute workout most mornings, keeping the house somewhat clean during the three nap-times, but getting no sleep at night. Now, I’m getting sleep at night but there’s no time for a workout unless I do it during the one-nap during the day, which I don’t, because there’s eating, cooking, laundry, and sitting on the couch in a weird daze to be done, too. And forget cleaning. Seriously, forget it. Like I’m talking ‘what-color-is-my-floor-again?’ kinda forget it. No time for cleaning products that are 6-in-1, I need a cleaning product that will clean my whole house, pay my bills, feed my child and myself and shave my legs for me too.
And keep in mind here, I only have one child. How on earth people do it with multiple children not only baffles me and makes me feel like a big fat sook but also makes me want to cling to their legs like…well, like a small child, really, and say in a very desperate voice – TEACH ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.
How the hell do you find the balance between being a mum, being a housewife, being an ass-kicking anxiety warrior and being a mentally sane individual?
Every morning I wake up with the intention of having a beautifully scheduled day in which I spend quality educational time with my daughter, clean my home until it’s sparkling, go for a leisurely and mind-clearing walk, spend half an hour meditating, complete a full arms abs and butt workout, cook a delicious and nutritious dinner and then blissfully read a book in bed before drifting off to sleep at 9PM. In reality I end up in the playpen (aka baby jail) lying on the floor for hours on end with one boob hanging out and bits of cracker tucked haphazardly into my hair, while Lila watches her third episode of Dirt Girl. One dog will be barking at the wall somewhere and the other dog will be chewing a baby spoon that got left on the floor with the other three thousand general household items that most definitely should have been put away at some point but will more than likely remain abandoned throughout the house for the next five weeks. And then I go to bed, completely exhausted from the day but feeling frazzled, confused and like I’ve done absolutely everything but achieved absolutely nothing. I never feel as if I’ve given my daughter 100% of myself, and I never feel like I’ve had enough time to give myself space to be and do all the things I want for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud of what I do in the sense of waking up and showing up for the day – because 15 months ago I was barely capable of even doing that. I’d just love to know how to balance my time between my baby, my goals, my body, my house, and my mind without feeling like I’m doing none of those things well.
I think, as a mum, it’s very easy to get lost amongst the business of the day. There’s washing, cleaning, cooking, naps, story-times, walks, play-dates, appointments, and in between those things you need to find time to look after yourself, too. But which part of yourself do you look after? Do you sit on the couch and veg out, or do you meditate or workout, or do you get a head-start on the mountains of washing that piles up in every corner of the house because you’re pretty sure that there’s now a family of small marsupials living somewhere between the dirty socks and the wet towels?
I don’t know if I’ll ever find the answer to that, but when I crawl into my unmade bed at the end of the day to write my gratitude list, I realise there’s a shit-load of stuff (almost as big as the laundry pile) that made me smile during the day, but I somehow forgot about during the countless sippy cup spills and games of peek-a-boo. I’m grateful that I have all this in the first place, however unbalanced and messy it all may be. And let’s be honest, in a few blinks of an eye I’ll be waving Lila off to school in the mornings with an entire day of time to myself ahead, and then I’ll probably still be questioning how to balance it all. Motherhood is one seriously tricky bitch, but every time I see that little face light up at me I realise that me-time or no me-time, I wouldn’t trade it for all the sanity or nutella in the world.