Originally posted on "Three Little Creatures" Blog.
These last few years have seen me become the poster child for, 'What happens when you don't look after yourself'. I'm no Martyr, it's not an intentional thing I do. I simply put it down to 'Mum Syndrome'. Everyone else in the family gets organised and cared for first, and mum brings up the rear. You see, just yesterday I was sitting across the desk from my naturopath (yes, I have one...), I was telling him about what's been going down, and how I've been feeling, and he says,
"Yep, I see this all the time. You are suffering from 'Mum Syndrome'"
So, it's not just something I made up. A real life medical type professional gave me the term. If only more people recognised it as such, and treated it like a real thing.
There are only a few basic elements to living a healthy life;
1. Adequate, restful sleep
2. Good nutrition
3. Effective exercise
4. 'Me' time, or stress less time.
Now, I don't know about you, but I can almost put a big fat X next to each one of those on a daily basis. I think most of us can. It's not something we do intentionally, it just comes with the #mumlife territory sometimes.
I think for most of last year, I was living in survival mode. Caffeine, adrenaline, sheer determination and necessity. Sleep was almost non-existent between the baby waking for night feeds, and the toddler suffering from sleep apnea and night terrors. I got by just eating whatever I could to fill me up, in between coffee breaks to keep me awake. I forced myself to exercise, more because I couldn't be at home on my own in the tired haze all day. I needed to get out, so I killed two birds with one stone. 'Me' time was virtually non existent. I used to consider a toilet break, or a shower at night on my own as 'Me' time... but between sleep issues, breastfeeding, and hubby's work schedule, I couldn't stray far from home, ever.
As time wore on, at least one of my children started sleeping, which meant that I wasn't being woken on average 6 times a night. It's like someone flicked a switch inside my brain and suddenly I realised, it's like I'd spent the entire 12 months (at least) before hand walking around with permanent beer goggles on. No wonder the rates of Post Natal Anxiety and Depression are so high. We're all living in a state of malnutrition (in so many ways), yet we're expected to function and behave like able bodied, sound of mind individuals. The mental and physical pressure we place on ourselves throughout this time is phenomenal, so any small chinks in the armour are blown wide open.
The best piece of advice I have ever received was from my dear old dad. He gave me the 'Airplane Analogy', and it goes a little something like this;
When you're on a plane, and the air crew are giving you instructions for what to do in case of an emergency, they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on FIRST. The reason for this is, that if you need to help others, you CANNOT do this if you put your mask on last. Waiting until last could very well mean that the lack of oxygen will cause you to lose consciousness, and then you can't help anyone else. This is the perfect analogy for motherhood.
If you don't look after yourself first sometimes, how can you be expected to take care of those around you? If you continually choose to put your oxygen mask on last, then you will eventually lose consciousness. If you lose consciousness, then who will be there to apply the oxygen masks to those around you?
Mum life and 'Me' time don't always go hand in hand, but mum life and health definitely should. It's time we all started putting ourselves first from time to time, it's time we shrugged off the guilt, the 'selfish' feelings, and negative associations with taking time out for yourself. Give yourself permission to breathe, you won't be the only one that benefits from it.
Guest blog originally appeared on "Life With My Little Duck" Blog.
So much of your childhood shapes who you become as an adult, both the good and the bad. I suppose that goes without saying, but I bet if you stop and really have a think about it, you can almost pinpoint why you display certain characteristics from time to time.
Much of my childhood revolved around communication. My family is well known for having the ability to carry a conversation. I think the phrase 'Can talk under water with a mouth full of marbles' comes to mind. We're storytellers. I can almost tell my dad's stories about his own childhood word for word, I've heard them that many times. It didn't matter. I loved hearing them. The stories of the past were so fascinating to me, imagining my dad as a child, or hearing my grandmother tell stories of her father, apparently the man could sell ice to Eskimos, and my grandfather telling jokes, or reciting poetry. It's easy to see where my love of language comes from. I love writing, concocting tales, or spinning my every thought and feeling into words on my blog.
I can also quite easily relate my fire and inability to hold my tongue, to this side of the family as well. A fire of sorts has been nurtured here. A fire for thought, freedom of speech, where a healthy debate was encouraged, and freedom of opinion. A fire that was repeatedly smothered by some, but continually raised back up again by others. I guess I'm lucky that the positive and constructive elements of this kind of trait had become engrained so deeply in me, that any attempts to squash them were met with teenage rebellion and hormonal angst (a WHOLE different topic).
The same can also be said for the darker times of your childhood, and unfortunately, my childhood has far too many of these times than I care to remember. I can look back at moments in my childhood with the clarity as if it had only just happened, and see quite clearly how these moments have shaped me. My inability to trust, my distaste for fickle behaviour, and my constant self doubt. It's funny how some moments are just that, yet others stay with you for the rest of your life. These moments can often feel akin to a dark cloud, always looming over you, waiting to release a downpour. It can seem like the light at the end of the tunnel is always being overshadowed by these dark clouds, and that yearning for the clouds to clear can seem futile. These dark clouds never really go away, however, with time they can seem further and further away from where you are.
For me, the realisation that I have come to, particularly since having my own children, is not to repeat the cycle. I have to figure out a way to turn these darker experiences of my childhood, into valuable tools for my journey as a parent. Sometimes I look at how I interact with my children, and rather than think about how I want to be with my children, I can clearly see how I don't want to be... and for me that's key. The happiness, communication, and laughter come naturally. I'm confident that these same values will be passed onto my children, which were passed onto me, BUT it's a daily exercise for me to restrain those negative traits that have been instilled.
I suppose that's how I've learned to (try and) heal myself over the years. To try and see the silver lining. Something that is far easier said than done, but having some years between the then, and the now definitely helps. They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing... and it truly is. IF it's used in the right way. I try to use my negative experiences of the past as a way to change my future. It doesn’t always work, and often times it takes what seems like an eternity to grasp this way of thinking. It's all a learning experience. I'm a work in progress, and I'm sure it'll be a conscious effort for the rest of my days too.
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version