When we decide to become parents, we know that, if we’re lucky and everything goes well, it’s going to be a life-changing event.
But do we really understand that concept of “life-changing”?
Once the excitement of the pregnancy announcing, the nursery decorating, the baby-clothes buying, the hospital bag-packing and the actual birth is over, are we ever truly prepared for what comes next?
The worry, the constant meal-planning, bottle-washing, nappy-changing, breathing-checking, the mammoth task of just leaving the house, the unrelenting 24/7 of it all?
It’s important to add that this special time is also full of excitement, joy, wonder and pure love but there’s no denying that those first few months, in particular, can be rough.
The nature of the job
As your child gets older, their needs change but they don’t really diminish. Yes, your child becomes more independent but you still have to be there for them whenever they need you.
They still get sick, they still need reassurance, they still cause you sleepless nights – it’s just the nature of the job.
And as many people learned during the coronavirus pandemic, being at home with children all day every day is not for the faint-hearted.
Which is why it’s important to take a personal vacation just for yourself every now and then if you can.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t even have to be longer than a few hours to yourself but it should be something that gives you the time and space to, at least recharge your batteries and at most, rediscover who you were before you became responsible for children.
Remember, you had a different name before you became ‘Mam’ or ‘Dad’!
Here are just 3 reasons why you need a personal vacation:
You’ve forgotten what your hobbies are
Take some time for yourself and make a list of the things that brought you joy when you were younger. Maybe you loved to draw or run or play the piano. Being a parent means putting your children’s needs before your own but at a certain point, you need to bring your needs back to the fore to feel like a whole person and not just someone’s parent.
You’re not comfortable in your body
If you’ve given birth and/or breastfed, it’s not unusual for your body to feel a bit alien to you. Despite having performed this extraordinary feat, things don’t function or look the way they used to and this can bring people down. It’s natural to want to feel comfortable in your skin again.
This does NOT mean falling foul of the toxic online habit of ‘bouncing back’ into your pre-pregnancy clothes. It’s about making friends with your new body and giving it time to heal, rest and build back the stamina and energy you may have lost since becoming a mother.
You don’t feel like yourself anymore
It’s very easy to get caught up in the chaos of family life and not take the time to check in with your mental wellbeing. Perhaps you like the distraction because you’re worried about what might come up if you dwell on your thoughts for too long.
There is a saying: ‘If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness’.
This is just as true, if not more so, for your mental wellness and is a stark reminder to all of us that our emotions have to be acknowledged and expressed before they escalate into something we can’t manage on our own.