Do you ever just feel like you need a break from being a parent? I am not just talking about enjoying some ‘me time’, I mean a proper break. Lately I have been feeling really bogged down and constantly struggling my way through the daily grind. For the past few weeks I have often caught myself fantasising about sending my boys off to their grandparents for a weekend, an hour or so to myself just isn’t cutting it anymore. I have daydreamed about packing up Leo’s little George Pig rucksack and cramming nappy after nappy into Alex’s change bag and waving them good bye as I leave them in the very capable hands of my parents or in laws. Is that really such a bad thing? Mum guilt has obviously tried to tell me I am a horrible mum for craving time away from parenting when I should be making exciting plans for family days out but I am telling mum guilt to do one. I need a break and I have decided that that is ok. Here is a look into my daily life as a stay at home mum of 2 boys, to help you understand why I am in desperate need of a break from being a parent..
6am – I am woken up by either the sound of Alex crying, Leo climbing into our bed telling me he’s starving and needs breakfast or, more often than not, pissed off cries from Alex and the sound of Leo scream/singing at him after he’s climbed into the cot and woken Alex up. I never wake up because I have simply had enough sleep.
6.15am – I am dealing with some kind of toilet drama. Either Leo has wet through his pull ups, Alex has pooed and is trying to roll off the bed while I change him or Leo needs a poo at the exact second I am have unclipped my bra and am about to feed Alex.
6.30am – I have a ravenous baby stuck to my boob while Leo continues to claim starvation. I try to check the hundreds of notifications on my phone but it is a fruitless attempt with both kids needing my constant attention.
7.30am – We all go to the kitchen to start the chaos that is breakfast. The Amazon Alexa is turned on and we kick start the day to the not so relaxing tones of the soundtrack to either Lego Batman or Trolls or sometimes Leo just gets Alexa to play the Star Wars theme tune on repeat.
8.00am – I am still trying to convince Leo to eat his breakfast (considering he was starrrrving at 6am, I have no idea why it takes him so long to eat) while also shovelling baby porridge into Alex’s mouth and attempting to catch the slices of fruit that are sliding off the high chair and heading straight for the floor.
8.15am – I am in Leo’s room searching for clean clothes and a pair of matching socks (never gunna happen). I get Leo dressed and plonk him in front of cbeebies while Alex sits and plays in baby jail (aka the play pen).
8.30am – Ignoring protests that I’m in the way of the TV from Leo, I do my 10 minute full body workout while hoping Alex doesn’t try and make a break for it from his play pen while I’m mid plank.
8.40am – It’s shower time and Alex is sat staring at me from his bouncy chair and occasionally letting out an angry scream at me for daring to care about something as trivial as hygiene. Who knows what Leo does in this time but by the time I’m back in the living room that place is trashed.
8.50am – Chuck any clothes I can find on, tie my hair back (no time to dry it) and run around the house like a headless chicken looking for book bags, coats and shoes. I usually have to spend 5 minutes persuading Leo to put his god damn shoes on, you would think I was asking him to put his foot into a crocodiles mouth or something the way he goes on.
9.00am – And we are out the door, at the exact time we are supposed to be walking through the door of play school.
9.15am – Shake off the feelings of shame and failure for dropping Leo off late yet again and practically run home with Alex as during the morning rush I still haven’t eaten.
Are you stressed yet? Are you thinking I must get a break now that I am one child down and I have something in my house affectionately called baby jail? Wrong.
9.30am – Clean up the shit tip of a kitchen that, despite being spotless at 6am this morning, is full of dirty plates and a floor littered with squashed banana and toast crusts.
9.45am – Sit and play games with Alex, knocking over stacking cups is a current favourite. Probably deal with another nappy situation right about now too.
10.00am – I normally try and catch up on emails or blog now with Alex sat next to me in in his walker but, oh, what’s that? He’s hungry again and is sleepy too? Cue 10minutes of grumpy baby before I give in and stick him on the boob again.
10.30am – Half hour is usually spent trapped in the nursing chair while Alex has the laziest feed ever and then it’s a game of roulette trying to get him into his cot without waking him up.
Nap time, surely I get to relax now? Well, I might stick the TV on or try to write but I can’t concentrate, my house is a tip. More often that not the precious hour or so in the day when Alex sleeps is spent sorting out the never ending piles of laundry, picking up toys and chucking coffee down my throat while staring clueless at yet another bloody renewal form from HMRC.
I am not going to bore you with the rest of my day but it usually goes Alex wakes from nap/Alex needs lunch/pick Leo up/find ways to entertain kids for the afternoon/tag in the husband when he finishes work and run and hide in the kitchen whilst cooking tea. I don’t even want to talk about the stress fest that is tea time, let’s just say unless we are eating pizza or fish fingers we usually have to spend forever convincing Leo to stop talking about friggin Lego Batman and eat some food. Chuck in an over tired Alex who would rather scream at his spoon than let me put it in his mouth, then you can see why by 5pm I am desperate for them both to go to bed so I can collapse on the sofa and binge watch Netflix, can’t you?
I love my boys with all my heart but lately this daily routine of ours is feeling a bit relentless. The house is never quiet and while I absolutely love the sound of the boys giggles, Leo’s little stories and Alex’s shrieks of excitement, they can be hard to pick out amongst the hours of screaming, crying and arguing. It is no secret that being a mum is hard work and I think it is completely ok to want to step back from the responsibility of parenting sometimes.
The thing is, we don’t live by our parents. We are down in the South of England and both mine and my husband’s parents are in a little town in Mid Wales; bringing up children away from your family is really difficult. Leo is almost 4 and in that whole time he has only spent a handful of nights away from us. Alex is 8months and I think Oli and I have had about 3 date nights and not once have we had a night away from him. I think that is why I am feeling the way I am lately, it has been years since I was last able to just do what I want, to spend quality time with Oli and to just be a little bit selfish. We all need to make time for ourselves sometimes, it is pretty much impossible to keep chugging on, giving everything you can to your family when you haven’t been given the chance to recharge and look after yourself for once.
When you become a parent you pretty much hand over your life and freedom to your tiny newborn, I understand that and I knew that’s what I would be signing up for when we decided to start a family. BUT does that really have to mean I have to spend every single day of my life being dragged from sleep each and every morning and trying to coax food into tiny mouths and deep clean the kitchen three times a day? If you have a job then you are entitled to annual leave. I don’t have a job but I could benefit from some holiday time as much as anyone who spends their days glued to a desk in an office.
So last night I cried to my husband, I told him that I am really struggling. That I don’t know how much longer I can keep giving my all to the boys before I just burn out and can’t give any more. I just want one weekend, I don’t think I am asking too much. One weekend where Oli and I can go out for a meal on the Friday night, spend a Saturday morning in bed and the afternoon just doing whatever the hell we feel like. One single weekend where I don’t have to change a nappy, breastfeed, play Lego or watch Moana for the millionth time. I know for a fact I would spend the whole time missing my boys, that I will be texting my mum for photos of them and asking for details on what they are doing but it would still be a break. I know that if I just got to take a little bit of time to look after myself for once and reconnect with my husband then I would be a much happier mum when my boys were back in my arms.
For now though, this child free weekend will have to remain a dream. Alex has gone on bottle strike so until I can get him to stop being a breastfeeding junkie I will just have to make do with the usual couple hours in the evening where Oli and I sit zombiefied on the sofa staring at our latest Netflix addiction.
Hopefully my request for annual leave will be accepted by my mini bosses soon.
Do you ever feel like you need a break from parenting? Do you think it is ok to want to spend time away from your children or do you think it’s selfish? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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