Parenting: It’s OK to let go once in a while…

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Before my kids arrived, I was a bit of a partygoer – the kind that would spend all day hung-over after a big night out, to then manage to get up and go again the next night… any day of the week. At the drop of a hat I’d be there – no convincing needed and I loved every minute of it. But, then I hit my mid 20’s, where a night in with my now hubby was the place I preferred to be – but if a night out was offered to me I’d certainly find it hard to say no.

Now… in my 30’s, married and with 2 children under the age of 3, a night out is both tempting (to keep my inner 20 year old alive a little) and also unbelievably daunting. Yes, sometimes I miss the crazy nights out with my friends, sometimes I miss being carefree about what time of the night it is and sometimes I miss all the fun. But now, the possibility of having to be up during the night to comfort an unsettled baby, or knowing that no matter what, I will be forced to be awake before the crack of dawn, or even just the idea of knowing that I have to not only entertain but support, manage and care for 2 tiny humans, wins every time. Thus, my social life is no longer about partying the night away, but enjoying a much-needed coffee with a good friend, while we try to chat over the constant ‘managing’ of the kids while they play. But you know what? The play-dates and the coffee catch-ups are exactly where I want to be.

Yes. Life changes when you become a parent and your children very quickly, and deservedly, become the center of your now very busy and crazy world. It can become all consuming at times though – to the point that before you know it, it’s 3 years later and you and your husband still haven’t been out of the house together without the kids. So, when we were invited to a wedding interstate not long ago it made me think – At what point, do I stop for a minute and actually take time to attend to my social life? To reconnect and be with my husband – just the two of us? Or, to spend quality time with my friends (where we can string a sentence together without being interrupted by a 2 year old demanding ‘more food!’ or ‘toilet time!’)? Finding that illusive ‘me time’ as a mother is not only important, it’s essential. We can so easily get caught up in the world of parenting that we simply forget to look out for ourselves, and as husband and wife, each other. I know I am certainly guilty of this at times.

So a few months ago, I finally decided to attend to ‘me’ (and my hubby) and agreed to attend the wedding… interstate… without my kids. Exciting right?! I know so many of you are thinking ‘hell yes! – You go girl’! …And yes – that is exactly how I felt when I made the decision. “About time!” I thought to myself. But now, the night before we depart, the reality of being away from my kids has set in and I can’t help but feel like a horrible parent. Yes, I know this is a great opportunity to finally allocate some time to ‘us’ and on the surface I can see that a trip away for a couple of nights does sound like bliss. Yet all I feel is this niggling emotion that consistently attacks you as a mother – guilt. I feel guilty for putting myself first, I feel guilty that I won’t be here with them if something happens, and I feel guilty for not being excited to get away. Either way, no matter my choice, whether I chose to go or chose to stay I would feel guilty, because, for me as a mother, it is simply natural to feel a need to be selfless for my children and to meet my responsibilities as a parent. There is no escaping it.

However, instead of focusing on how bad I was feeling I decided it was my duty as a wife, and to set a good example for my kids, to shift my thinking (with much apprehension… get out of my head guilt!) and think about the ways in which we can focus on what’s important instead of wallowing in a state of panic and worry.

So here are some of my reasons as to why we should ditch the guilt;

1. Like anything in life, balance is important:

I’m the first to admit that my kids can drive me crazy sometimes and in order to ensure I don’t take it out on them, I need to have ‘me time’. Having some time for yourself can help you to be a better parent

2. All your relationships are significant:

Don’t forget there are other people in your life, other than your children and it’s important to invest time with those you love.

3. Happiness is contagious:

Heading away for a day or two (although it can be nerve racking) can rejuvenate your soul. Be happy in order to make your children happy

4. The kids need time with other people too:

Help them to be a little more independent and encourage them to build their social skills by leaving them with friends or family. And, let’s face it – the grandparents love it!

5. You are doing your best:

No matter what influx of emotion you are feeling, you are indeed doing your best. Remind yourself of this next time you feel guilt creeping in.

6. Your children are loved:

At the end of the day the most important thing for me is that my children are loved and cared for. I know they are. They know they are. That’s what counts.

7. You:

Simple – do it for you. You work hard as a mum – damn hard! So take the time for you because you need it and you deserve it.

Yes, priorites change as you grow older and it’s important that they do. There is nothing wrong with that. Often we put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list though – so next time you are contemplating doing something for yourself for a change, my advice is just do it! As hard as it can be (trust me, I know that its hard!), it is worth it in order to keep your inner 20 year old alive… just a little.

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Sarah is currently a stay-at-home mum to Charlotte and Ashton. She is a qualified secondary teacher, specialising in boys education. Her newfound passion for fitness and healthy living came about because of her children. Even though they poop and cry a lot they, along with her husband, are her world. You can follow her Instagram at @for_theloveofmum