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Mum Guilt + Expectations to do and BE everything = Exhausted and Drained.

I wrote this blog on the train home from an evening away that I’m weirdly scared to talk about.

We are told to make time for self-care but at the same time, made to feel like we’re being selfish for making time for ourselves along side work, family and life in general!

Well, this time I was essentially forced in to making time for just me.

And I kinda liked it!

And with it being Mental Health Awareness Week/ Month in the UK, I felt this blog would be perfectly timed…

Sleep and Self Care (Parent Style)

As a self-employed parent, my ‘time away from the kids’ comes in the from of work! Be that filming weddings, family sessions or styled shoots…I love my job enough for it to fill the cup up a little.

But it’s not really self care, is it?

One morning as we closed the front door to head to the school run I joked that the best birthday present would be a full night’s sleep.

After yet another night of being woken by a toddler for a cuddle and/or feed numerous times, I was feeling a little exhausted. add to that the mental load of life and work, a mouth full of ulcers and an ongoing cold was my body telling me I was getting run down.

My birthday morning arrives. 41 and another year older/wiser.

I open the most thoughtful gift of a Lego set that’s a model camcorder (my children were quick to offer their help there!) and then handed an envelope.

“But we weren’t buying each other gifts!” I protested to my Husband…who just nodded and encouraged my toddler to open the envelope with me.

I unfolded the printed piece of A4 paper and it read ‘one night’s sleep at a hotel, The Resident‘. eyes wide I realised my request for sleep had been heard!

But also the intrusive and panicked thoughts followed…

A night away? that’s so selfish!

How will the toddler cope without me?

On a random Monday, who even does that?

and then followed the excuses…

I’ve been feeling ill…

What if I’m too ill to go?

I’ve got an appointment on the Tuesday morning, what a waste having to rush back?!

All the way to Liverpool…bit far for one night?

What if I’m too poorly to sleep??

Cue tired and hungry children moaning and Lego being poured everywhere, I sensed my husband felt I wasn’t appreciating the kind gesture. something I’d actually asked for!

a female videographer holds a baby on her hip whilst filming a wedding in Lancashire

Using Tools From Therapy For ‘Mum Guilt’

After the school run, instead of diving straight in to work I decided to sit with all these thoughts and feelings.

During a recent birth trauma therapy sessions I’d learnt about ‘leaning in’ and trying to understand where and why thoughts popped up. The aim is to be curious instead of anxious and to see where they take me.

Within minutes I came to realise that Mum guilt was at play and explored whether I was actually feeling bad about leaving or if I felt I HAD to feel bad about leaving.

That’s the thing with guilt, we don’t have to feel bad about it but I’ll make sure we do until we listen!

Another tool I’d learnt was reframing.

In that moment I decided to reframe those feelings and to explore how it would feel being excited to go. To have an evening with no pressures to look after anyone else but me and no alarm clock (or small person) to wake up for. To think about how it would feel waking up in the morning after uninterrupted sleep in one of my favourite cities, Liverpool.

I didn’t have long to dwell on it anyway as after a weekend of birthday celebrations it was time for them to drop me off at the train station for my night away.

The guilt crept in as quickly as the train moved out of the station, both children running alongside the train waving frantically.

That lump in your throat and the tears welling up bubbles up and at first I went to stop it and distract myself but then stopped myself doing that, learning to sit with the feelings and let myself know it’s okay.

Even texting my Husband Lee those words helped and he said he felt them when he worked away too.

(photo below of my toddler making me feel bad with actual tears…)

 

a little toddler looks like he's been crying with a tear on his cheek

Travelling Solo, Me Time and Actual Sleep in Liverpool…

After all the sunshine we’d had, I arrived to grey skies and drizzle in the beautiful city of Liverpool.

Another thing that could have built a picture of how the evening would go…miserable and moody. Instead, I took the opportunity to wander around the shops (without a little person hanging off me or a husband rolling his eyes at me wanting yet another linen blue shirt or shirt dress!)

The only purchase made being a box of brownies outside John Lewis in Liverpool One…you can take the Mum out of the home but she’ll always think of others ?

Fighting The Mum Guilt With Tea and Brownies…

Checking in solo I was greeted by the noise of laughter and conversation from the lounge area as groups of guests seemed to be meeting up or saying goodbye with big hugs and smiles.

Still feeling a bit odd being solo, I scurried away to my room on the third floor and was greeted with a welcoming bed and warm lighting. I went on the search for a kettle, in the hope for a hot chocolate, but was greeted by something even lovelier…posh teas!

I snuck out a brownie (no-one needs to know I actually brought 4…) and enjoyed a hot drink and gooey brownies whilst watching The Goldbergs in full on the big TV.

No distractions.

No worrying about needing to get to bed to maximize the sleep before someone wakes up!

I even planned ahead and brought with me a REN face mask and some pamper treats to enjoy in bed before I tucked myself in for the night.

And do you know what…I slept!

A whole 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep!

And even after waking at 5:30, with the help of my sleep pillow and loop earplugs, I dosed off again until 7:45!!!

a toddler reads Oh No George in bed with his big sister

Feeling Selfish, But Doing It Anyway…

Making time for a bit of yoga, I packed up and headed to check out (probably grinning like a mad woman after my first night’s sleep in 2.5 years haha).

I was informed of a nice breakfast across the road at ‘Wreck’ on Seel Street and although my first thought to pop up was guilt fueled, I smiled and chose to ignore it!

And there I was, drinking my ‘builders tea’ and enjoying smoked salmon and eggs on sourdough toast…alone.

The buzz of conversation around me, the cool R n B tunes playing in the background and just me and my thoughts as I enjoyed a delicious breakfast without any need to rush.

I write this as I sit on the train heading home.

Still raining but my mood is anything but grey and miserable!

And do you know what, in another ‘selfish’ move…I’m off to a massage when I get home too!

Our Thoughts and Feelings on Self Care as Parents…

If you’re a parent, I wonder how you feel reading this?

Are you feeling it sounds selfish yet longing for something like this yourself?

Do those ‘Mum guilt’ feelings creep up for you like they did for me?

Or maybe you’ve enjoyed something like this enough times to know that feeling and you’re smiling along with me now…?

If you’re one of the ones that longs for something like this but the guilt is too strong, know you’re not alone.

Selfish doesn’t have to be a bad word.

self timer posed photo of a family at home

Deserving Of Time Alone (And Pushing Through The Guilt!)

Someone said to me before this that I must have a partner that really appreciates me to do something like this.

He must see that I not only need it but I deserve this time.

And they’re right.

But I also feel that sometimes you need that person to make you do things for yourself. To push you out of your comfort zone, through the guilt and make you do things that they know you’ll feel great for.

Not all of us have that person.

Not all of us feel we can communicate our needs in that way.

But we all have the opportunity to choose ourselves once in a while and if anything, I hope this encourages you to consider trying something like this for yourself.

Just the once for now…give yourself permission and see how it feels.

Lean in to those feelings and ask yourself why you feel so guilty making time for yourself. Your own answers may surprise you and help you understand why you’ve stopped yourself in the past.

Now…I’m wondering when I can make plans for the next one!

I nearly wrote ‘find an excuse’ but I now believe there’s no need for an excuse but there’s always a need for ‘me time’

Charlene x

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