Becoming a mum often means you’re on call long after the curtain closes…
When friends ask me what it’s like to be a new mum I always say it’s like doing two Broadway shows a day. You’re singing, dancing, laughing, crying. You’re performing to the toughest critic and by the end of the day when the final curtain closes, you’re emotionally and physically drained. I used to count down the last hour before bed and thank god when Raff was tucked up in his cot. But the work’s not over.
When your baby sleeps your role suddenly changes from lead actor to stage hand. You potter around behind the scenes steralising bottles, loading and unloading the dishwasher, washing clothes, folding clothes, getting pumpkin stains out of onsies, pureeing more of said pumpkin for another meal. And when you’re finished that the highchair, with its mulched up goop that’s permanently stuck in the crevices needs a good clean. You pick up the books and toys that are scattered around and reset them in their place – ready for a new day. And it’s the same, day after day after day. You soon work out your role isn’t just mum – it’s cook, cleaner, and personal assistant.
I started to get annoyed at my husband who thought once we’d had dinner it was time to relax, whereas I was always rushing around doing things. After some comments about his lack of help around the house he shot back with ‘but you just can’t leave anything alone.’ And he was right. I was so obsessed with being the perfect mum and wife that I didn’t actually leave anything for him to do, and when I spontaneously did, I’d get annoyed that he wouldn’t do it the same way as me. I’d critic the way he’d mix the baby cereal with the milk, the outfit combinations he’d dress our son in, and how he’d never pull out the flaps of the nappy (which we all know is a MUST!) I’d stand over him like a thug on a street corner when he was bathing our son or putting him to bed. I still don’t know if it was because I felt like I could do it better, or I felt like I was missing out.
I’d thrown myself into motherhood so completely much like I would have thrown myself into a new job that I became a bit obsessed with it. I wanted to be good at it, I wanted to be the best at it. I wanted a performance review rating me on my mothering skills. But motherhood is no 9-5 role. There’s no designated lunch break or punch in, punch out system. The day continues until you go to bed – and even then you’re often called on for ‘nightshift’, waking every time your baby wakes. It’s all encompassing, exhausting, exhilarating and energy-zapping. And if you’re not careful every spare glorious second you have to yourself can get eaten up by household chores. Seriously, doesn’t it feel like the house is never clean? When you’re taking care of everyone in the household, more often than not, you’re neglecting yourself. As cliché as it sounds, you’ve got to make time for you. Take a break when you need it whether it’s to watch one Netflix show, read a book or take a nap. Trust me – you’ll never get your house looking like the pre-kid showroom type of clean it once was, ever again. So you might as well relax a little, and just enjoy a bit of ‘me’ time. Because the show will go on tomorrow and the next day and the next… whether you’re up to date with the washing or not!