As mothers we are skilled at many productive things, but we are especially skilled at putting ourselves last. We prioritise our kids’ needs ahead of our own, and we constantly look out for others, neglecting to replenish ourselves. We too often forget to fit our own oxygen masks.
It’s no secret last year was a rough one for me. I seemed to jump from one disaster or disappointment to another. I don’t want to bang on about it, as I don’t think it’s helpful to dwell on the negative, but I do think it’s important to listen to your body, and your heart, and recognise when you need a break.
Towards the end of the year I felt like I was going to combust. I felt drained; emotionally, physically and mentally. I went to my GP and asked for blood tests to try and uncover a medical reason for my unrelenting fatigue. The blood tests came back normal. I was disappointed. I wanted a medical explanation for it, like low iron. I’m a vegetarian after all so that would have made sense. But my lovely GP assured me that there was indeed a medical explanation for it. Exhaustion. Burnout. She suggested a strange concept called “rest.”
But how could I possibly find time to rest and slow down when everything was speeding up? The answer? I couldn’t. Well, not at home anyway. So I decided to go away and leave my parental responsibilities behind for 72 hours and escape to the country for what I call a “mama retreat.” Three entire days to do – well – whatever I darn well pleased!!
I felt a little apprehensive initially, but it was short-lived. Within minutes of talking to Mr. NASD about it we had hatched a plan. And with the kind gesture of a very dear friend, my MIL’s help and Mr. NASD’s support, we made it happen.
I was SO excited as I packed my bag for this adventure. I hadn’t been away from my girls for more than one night, aside from a few hospital stints to have babies, which don’t really qualify as a holiday. A “break” perhaps, but not the kind I had in mind.
Everything was utterly perfect about my time away. I can honestly say I felt no guilt. None at all. Did I miss my babies? Sure. But did I pine for them? No. I enjoyed a 72-hour rest leave, guilt-free. Besides, they were in the capable hands of their dad, and I think it’s good for kids to spend some one on one time with the parent they don’t see as much.
My country cottage was the perfect setting. Set in the picturesque town of Daylesford, The Weekender provided the perfect place to relax and unwind. Here’s a brief run down of what I did, and didn’t do:
What I did:
- I walked
- I read. I read LOTS
- I enjoyed uninterrupted sleep
- I replaced “witching hour” with a book and a glass of wine.
- I shopped. I shopped leisurely. You know, the strolling, lingering kind.
- I pondered. By this I mean I had time to let my thoughts flow…
- I went back to bed after brekkie with a cup of tea and a magazine.
What I didn’t do:
- Break up any fights
- Negotiate, bribe, plead and threat
- Make lunches
- Clean up craft
- Do a reader
- Cook dinner
- Wipe any noses. Wipe any bottoms
- The bath/book/bed routine. Except my own!
But do you know what the loveliest thing was about my break? It was precisely that – a break. It was a break from having to think. A break from mentally mapping out my day. A break from churning over my to do list at night. A break from rehearsing the follow day’s activities. A break from having to think about anyone but myself. Let me repeat that last sentence for maximum effect. It was a break from having to think about anyone but myself.
And I highly recommend it.
If you need further convincing, Here are 4 reasons why YOU need to take a few days leave from mothering. Even one night away will do wonders for your soul.
Solitude is the most effective way to rest, reflect, repair and reset.
If, like me, a sleep in is about as regular as an eclipse, then you need to prioritise rest. Except of course you don’t. You’re too busy running errands, keeping kids alive, working, cooking, cleaning, washing, filling in forms, shopping for kids’ birthday gifts, making what seems like hundreds of tiny decisions a day, to keep the family afloat. Quite frankly it’s exhausting being the family conscience and compass and if you don’t refuel you’ll combust. There’s really no better analogy than the airplane model of fitting your oxygen mask first before you fit your children’s.
In our modern, fast-paced world, there’s so much emphasis and pressure to be doing. Multitasking, hacks for musy mums – there’s no end of information about how we should be doing more. Our lives are overcrowded and overscheduled and this means there is very little down time. When do you have time to reflect and ponder leisurely in your week? You don’t, because our society doesn’t place the same value on reflection as it does on busyness and perceived success. Whether you’re a working mum, stay-at-home mum, working from home mum, I am sure your mind is a busy one and going away will give you the opportunity to reflect. Being alone offers the quiet space for reflection and self-exploration, something that is impossible to do in a crowd.
Motherhood is relentless, demanding and all-consuming. And this is on a good day. When things go a bit pear-shaped, or life throws some epic challenges at you, it can be impossible to find time to process, repair and heal. Parenting with a heavy heart, a stressed mind, or a noisy head can leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. Self-preservation is vital as a mum so if there’s something that demands your attention, physical and emotional space will help you to work through it.
I find if I am over-committed it has knock-on effect in all areas of my life. I become unmotivated to write, parent and to socialise. I need space from people and activities in order to recharge. Solitude allows my mind time to breathe. These quiet moments to re-energise are actually vital to my performance as a mother. Taking time out for yourself is not indulgent; it is critical.
Have you ever gone away on your own since becoming a mum? Do you make time for yourself? Please leave a comment below and let’s help encourage each other to make time for ourselves!