By Rosemary Marchese
Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids
It doesn’t seem to happen to the guys so much. Well, from what I’ve seen anyway. Mums on the other hand are a little different. Even from the moment a mum-to-be finds out that she is expecting there is a difference between the father and the mother. And no, I’m not trying to say that one parent is more important than the other so hear me out. Both parents can be equally excited but it’s the mum that leaves and breathes every moment of it in her body. This little bundle is with her every moment of every day.
So, that’s just pregnancy. Once the baby is born there is the feeding and so on. While dads can help out too, in many families it’s the father that goes back to work, and even if the mum does go back to work they tend to go back later than the fathers. While this trend tends to be shifting somewhat, especially with the rise of opportunity to work from home, let’s just look at this situation now.
So how does a female become a mum and mum only?
Easily! There is that sense of guilt. Oh boy, does it ever end? Guilt if you leave them with someone else. Guilt if you exercise. Guilt for putting yourself first. While I get that kids do need to be a top priority I don’t think that should mean a permanent reduction in self-importance. Sure, early days of parenting are a series of days and nights of unrelenting sleepless nights and anguish (on top of all that happiness), but it concerns me when mums don’t start to emerge from this pattern of living with some sort of self-worth.
Yes, you are worth it.
You are worth the time to exercise. The time to some silence. The time to catch up with friends. It may be a juggle, and from my experience the blend of time that children consume of you changes as they age. The early days are tough. You’re still learning, but as you learn you need to remind yourself of something.
You did exist as a person before you became a mum.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE being a mum. Sure, they can be challenging but I wouldn’t change my life for the world. But I realised something a few years ago when I started working more than I ever intended to as a ‘mum’. What’s that?
The kids are watching! So, lead by example! Encouragement doesn’t always have to be watching the kids play sport and being their chauffer. Let them know that you have the right to time too.
One of the first thing I find that mums dump is exercise. Too busy. Too tired. I get it. Seriously I do. I had moments after having children where I wondered if I would ever run again (I love running). But I persevered. Not by thrashing my body through runs, but at least by turning up for a light intensity walk on the days that I could. I kept telling myself that my energy would return. I just had to SHOW UP. And I did. And now, my energy has returned.
Because I prioritise my exercise AND my food. You can’t expect to have energy without nourishment.
If you’re struggling with energy to exercise, just SHOW UP. A bad workout is better than no workout!
Tips to help mums find ‘me’ again:
- Make a list of the things you would love to have more time for. Schedule one of these items in and start doing it. Then plan when you think it’s realistic to add the others in. Be kind to yourself. Remember it’s tougher when the kids are younger, especially if you don’t have help.
- Prioritise fitness. I can’t stress this enough. Not enough mums value fitness enough and there is more and more evidence coming to light that a lack of fitness is fundamental to the development and progression of lots of diseases as we age.
- Prioritise good nutrition (and don’t be fooled by the health food aisle). You can’t expect to have energy without the fuel. You wouldn’t expect your car to, so why do you expect you to?
- Schedule your life a little like an athlete. When you doing a task, focus on it 100%. So, if you work, focus on work. Someone will call you if the kids are sick. If you are with the kids, try not to take that call. Then, remember that athletes rest too. So, if you’ve had a massive week with the kids, work, whatever, then make sure you have a scheduled break in there.
- Find your purpose in life. What is that makes you tick? What is that you are passionate about? Once you have identified it work out your strategy to implement this into your life.