How many times have you heard the phrase, 'You need to find something just for you' as a Mum? I have heard it countless times, from well meaning friends and family members to inspiring articles, and while the sentiment is absolutely true, the reality is somewhat more complex.
I've recently finished writing a book and I'm so proud of myself for seeing it through and for having the courage to get my writing 'out there' but in truth I started it just as something to stop my brain from imploding. Being a stay at home Mum, I find that while my days are full to the brim and endlessly chaotic (dinner time anyone?) they rarely provide me with a chance to actually use my brain and do something productive (cause let's face it, washing pukey clothes and cleaning unwanted food from the floor is NOT productive, I don't care what anybody says). And before anyone says it, I know we are shaping our kids future and this is the most important job of all, yadda yadda yadda but sometimes it truly is BORING! The monotony of every day motherhood (supermarket tantrums notwithstanding) is enough to drive anyone insane and so we are bombarded with the insistence that we need something 'Just for us'.
The problem is, when my husband tentatively approaches the subject (normally after an exhausted hormonal melt down from yours truly) all I want to say to him is 'BUT WHEN???'. When am I supposed to fit in this 'me time' in between the washing and the homework and the sleepless nights and the cooking and the park trips and the school runs and the lunch box making and the bloody everything else! Where can I find the time to perfect a new craft or take up a new sport? How can I devote myself to a new hobby or passion when motherhood is already taking everything I've got and more?
Some people enjoy a good spa treatment but being pawed at by a stranger while making awkward small talk is not really my thing. Websites suggest quieter hobbies such as knitting (FUCKING KNITTING... Are you kidding me?? -Sorry to any avid knitters out there, I'm sure it's a very fulfilling hobby, just not for me!). And don't even get me started on the exercise classes.... me time? No. Torture is more accurate. Most nights I'm so exhausted its an effort just to make it to the sofa!
So skydiving is out (for obvious reasons), anything overly athletic is beyond me and I'm not quite ready to take on the crocheting, what on earth does 'me time' consist of? Watching the soaps with a cup of tea... Lovely but not very fulfilling.
And so I went back to an old childhood dream and I started to write. Not very well at first and sometimes I was too shattered to pull the lap top out in the evenings but after a while I got really into it. I found a story that I wanted to tell and I crafted characters I wanted to meet and before I knew it I had a book (and also some articles on the Huffington Post). I surprised myself and reminded myself I was still there underneath all the motherhood guilt and worry.
My days are still frantic and exhausting, I still get frustrated and drained but there is the spark of creativity and drive inside of me that allows me to step out of the every day. I have a love hate relationship with being a SAHM, I love spending time with my kids and getting to be such a big part of their lives growing up and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do so but I hate sometimes what it does to me. I hate being so tied up in knots with my own thoughts, I hate the internal battle of feeling like you're losing each day and I miss the feeling of productivity that so often comes with a hard day's work. So I write to keep myself sane and I write to dream, about an imaginary world of my own creation and about my own future.
P.s For a bit of shameless self promotion, if you're interested to see what an average SAHM can write when she puts her mind to it, here's a link to my book:
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