Sometimes you get to the end of a tough week, perhaps no tougher than you're used to, but this time it just feels like too much. Too much has been asked or expected of you. By others or by yourself. You just feel worn down and ready to collapse in a heap, hiding from the world and only coming out occasionally for more wine.
We've had one of those weeks, possibly the most exhausting since we had our nearly 6 month old son. I feel like I spent all my energy on just getting through the days and counting down to the weekend. That's not a way I usually feel. Weekends are wonderful because my husband is home from work, but normally I can enjoy the weekdays with my son just as much. We're best pals. We take on the world alone and we usually win. This week we didn't. We spent time with friends and had lots of lovely highlights, but amongst those we had a bunch of lows, and naturally they're the ones that stick with you.
He finally fell asleep for a much needed but much resisted nap. I had some time to think, which usually translates to writing. I thought about it and realised I was going to look after myself as I would a friend. So this is what I am telling myself, friend to friend. As opposed to self critical perfectionist giving herself a hard time.
1) Give yourself a break. You work so hard every single day, of course one day you were going to burn out. Take some duvet days. Leave the music class 'til next week. Watch a film and don't move from the sofa all day. Go for a long walk in the fresh air, listen to music and just get a bit lost. You can't be switched on 24/7 for 6 months without needing new batteries occasionally.
2) Say no. Practice it now - say it. Tell someone no. Turn something down. Don't feel you need to give a reason. Or do, but just tell the truth. Most reasonable people understand that sometimes life gets to be too much. If they care about your mental wellbeing at all then they'll encourage you to take a rain check, and hopefully remind you that you're doing a fab job. A lot is being expected of us at the moment, so we are learning to say no and feel okay about that.
3) Surround yourself with support. I know, it's a classic piece of advice, I'm not coining the phrase. But it is really resonating with me on this frazzled Friday when I feel like I need that village that promised to help raise my baby and then never showed. It's not always hands on support that parents want or need, and this one goes back to our hazy newborn days. I loved that our nearest and dearest were able to meet Ozzy, that goes without saying, but I'm saying it anyway because of what is to follow. Parents need your support, but that doesn't always mean they want you to hold the baby for them. Believe me, on my list on jobs to do, hold my own child while he still just about fits in my arms is my priority. Top marks go to the visitors who told me to enjoy cuddles with my newborn while they washed up for us. Support comes in all shapes and sizes. Last month someone anonymously sent me a little card to say they were thinking about us. I still don't know who it was but it was just what I needed after a tough day. Friends brought us cake and leant a sympathetic ear. Someone even offered to bring me over a McDonalds. Find those people who build you up and don't want anything in return. Keep them close and maybe one day return the favour when they're drowning in their own muddy puddle.
4) Count your blessings and remind yourself that there is still magic in the world, even if it has been hiding recently. What sets your soul on fire and fills your heart with so much love it could burst? Not always an easy question to answer, but find your tonic and drink it in. I can't get enough of my child's giggles or his little pouty lips and how they look when he tries to kiss me. So when I feel utterly defeated and like we aren't getting any of this right, I kiss my baby so much I lose count, and I sing The Hokey Cokey and shake him all about until he roars with so much laughter that he gets the hiccups. No matter what comes our way, I will always have my happy place and I am so fortunate that for me, that is simply being with everyone who belongs inside these 4 walls that we call home.
Look after yourself and remember that it's okay to ask the rest of the world to leave you alone, just for a little bit.
Also big thanks to those who have been fabulous this week, We're going to spend this weekend hibernating like a couple of bears who are looking slightly worse for wear, but we'll see you on the other side when our old pal Monday rolls around x