I don't know about you, but I've had one of those lightbulb parenting moments this week. It all started with various things unravelling to the point that I started to feel like a pretty crappy mother. Scratch that; like a pretty crappy human.
Don't get me wrong. I haven't committed any crimes and I'm probably being WAY too hard on myself. But I yelled at the kids before school on a day when I'd be on a plane out of town by the time they came home. I forgot some seriously important bits of mum-admin. (Yes, I know dadmin is a thing too but he also forgot.) My staying-on-top-of-the-laundry like a boss thing fell apart until none of us had any clean pants and the kids started getting dressed whilst standing next to the tumble drier. I didn't get round to doing my usual online supermarket shop so packed lunches were, let's say, even more interesting than normal.
And on top of all this we had yet more illness, tantrums, tax return headaches, travelling engagements and more deadlines than I could possibly handle, all interspersed with fun stuff that nevertheless brought their own pressures, like one child on an international school trip, my firstborn's 13 birthday and awaiting life-changing exam results.
Nothing life-threatening and I appreciate that handling these kind of strains are just part of the joy of family life and thus something to be grateful for. But sometimes it all just becomes a bit much, no? I can't be alone in feeling that from time to time. Probably when my own self care has fallen to the bottom of my seemingly-endless list of priorities.
But just as I was contemplating writing out the number for Childline and recommending that my kids each schedule in some much-needed telephone counselling, I realised that I was making life harder on myself instead of helping myself.
How? Way too much time scrolling Instagram after collapsing into bed at night. Now I love Instagram and couldn't run my business without it but if you're feeling a bit vulnerable or inadequate, it can really amplify those feelings.
I realised that the old adage is true – comparison is indeed the thief of joy. So instead of absent-mindedly soaking up the Insta vibes and comparing myself with all those perfect digital parents, I decided to cut myself some slack.
Make that gym class even though I could probably justify ditching it to help at home with a school project. Listen to an audio book whilst walking the dog without rushing. Buy myself an overpriced cup of steaming hot coffee and sip it slowly whilst my pushing my daughter on the swings in the park, instead of freezing my fingers off at her behest.
All of which to say, are you cutting yourself some slack today? Or wasting time on the internet comparing yourself to others? Don't go there. Treat yourself kindly. Your kids will thank you.
We'd love to hear what you do to take care of yourself when family pressures and commitments leave you feeling squeezed. Come and join in with the conversation over on our Facebook page!