Much as I LOVE being a mom – I mean; it IS the most amazing thing in the world – I am also the first to admit there are days that are hard.
We have all been here, those days when the parenting has been relentless. When you are wrung out from being mom. When you have clothed and fed and comforted and organised and planned and cooked and wiped tears and soothed tantrums. When you haven't had a moment in an entire day that was just for you.
I have a good friend who always then manages to remind me of this important fact: With young kids, the days might feel long at times, but the years are so, so short. And that there will come a day when I will look back on these days and wish with every bone in my body that I could go back, even just for one more day of sticky fingers and messy floors and my children being the very size they are now.
So I do what I always do and try to embrace the chaos and the craziness. Look at my yogurt smeared table and think of how lucky I am, how there are people out there who would give anything to have a two-year-old rub yoghurt into their dining table, but who might never have that happen to them.
It can be easy to forget sometimes, when you are knee-deep in motherhood, just how incredibly lucky we really are. But sometimes, all we need is a little timeout and a few moments of me-time to remind ourselves. And after seven years in the game, here are my five tried-and-tested ways to do just that:
1. Call your mum – or best friend
On days like these you just need someone who will listen without a smidgen of judgement, and will always, by the time you hang up, have managed to make you feel so much better about both my parenting abilities and the world at large.
2. Get out of the house
I have found that on days when the kids have really driven me up the wall – and back down again – just leaving the house (when my other half gets home – I am not suggesting you leave the kids on their own!) for half an hour will make the world of difference.
Grab your runners and go for a run if you really want to pound your stress into the pavement, but even just a stroll around Tesco or half an hour spent browsing the rails at your local shopping centre will do wonders for your sanity.
3. Lower your standards
I am a total perfectionist, and very into interiors. However, after welcoming kids into my life (and, obvs, home) I quickly learned that standards need to be lowered – a lot – unless you want to very quickly go demented.
Like, white furniture is only great if you really enjoy screaming at your kids all the time, and children have no appreciation for top-sheets or high tread count, so buy neither. Embrace the fact that there will be Cheerios on the floor and that cushions will be used for fort-building and that the crayons will break. (And when they do, that it is okay to throw them away rather then save them to make some sort of craft that involves the hair dryer. In fact, you have my permission to not feel guilty about all the crafts you never get around do doing!)
4. Put your needs on the top of your to-do list
Becoming a parent means going from pretty much just having yourself to worry about to suddenly always putting someone else's needs first.
But to maintain your sanity, it is important that you pencil in time that is just for you too. And not just once in a blue moon, but weekly – heck, even daily.
Go on, get a babysitter just so you can meet a friend for coffee. Don't feel guilty for treating yourself to a new dress (even if the kids' runners are due an upgrade). Sign up for those yoga classes and start saving for that all-girl's trip to Barcelona – you are so worth it. The bonus? The entire family will benefit from you investing time and care in yourself.
5. Look at the bigger picture
However bad a situation might seem, one day it will be funny. At least I'm really, really hoping they will...