On taking ‘me’ time and not feeling guilty about it…

Between the time they were born and time they were 5, I took one night away from my twins.  This was a night in hospital when they were 2, to recover from a c-section repair operation.  I found the experience really difficult, and missed them so much that I had no desire for time off from them again.

Their father, Adam had had a total of 6 months away from them in their first 3 years, as I took the twins to stay with my mother in the UK for long periods of time.  On top of this, he had had work weekends away.  I had no jealousy or desire to do the same.  I loved being with my kids, and missed them after just a few hours apart, however, from about 4.5 years I had started to feel a bit energetically ‘ground down’ and ‘running on empty’, in terms of what I had to offer them.  Having two first babies at 27 was a full on life-changer, I wasn’t the same Hannah as before they were around.

I booked 16 days away in France for in 6 months time. I started to feel panicky.  I hadn’t planned it to be so long, but a combination of factors meant it ended up being 21 days. I envisioned missing them like I did after a few hours for the entire duration, but on the other hand, the idea of getting up whenever I felt like it, making a cup of tea and seeing to myself first for the first time in 5 years, felt exciting and attractive.  I planned to take long baths, long runs and go out for dinner without worrying what time I would be home.

The fact that every day (except the time of that operation) they had been the first thought on my mind in the morning.  What were they going to eat that day, do, what other things did I need to do for them, etc.  I felt bound-down structuring my day around their routine, everyday.  Oh course this probably sounds selfish, I felt selfish to the point I wouldn’t admit these feelings to myself.  There was slight resentment when Adam went on his latest work trip to Sicily.  Although I didn’t admit it, it was time for me to take a break.  Of course, many mothers with many more children than me don’t have the opportunity for such a break (I was lucky that this chance came about through a combination of factors) but many parents don’t have access to many things, such as nutritious food, it doesn’t mean it is not desirable for the welfare of everyone involved.  Many people have to be involuntarily apart from their children, like I was for the operation, and that’s a different matter and feeling altogether, but ‘mummy burnout’ is now something I recognise, which I didn’t before this break. (more…)

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Why I haven’t been out of my PJs since Thurday/ Croup.

I salute any single parents, or any parents who achieve anything besides looking after kids with no extended family around.  The last week has been dominated by me:

1) Trying to prevent my son getting croup, as he does every year at this time, by keeping him in and warm etc.

2) Failing.

puzzle feetCroup, at the time, feels like the worst.  Although after a coughing attack, my vision widens and the rest of the world comes into view again, in those moments of a coughing fit, things feels awful.

Thank god for my partner.  I think we have massively messed things up for ourselves as a species by moving into flats in little families.  I don’t know how I would cope with a croup attack alone.  (Especially as on the first night of it, our daughter simultaneously puked her pumpkin and parsley soup all over our bed.  She is a determined creature, to say the least, and I made the huge error of saying she needed to finish the soup before having anything else).  However, the croup was obviously the most serious, so I took care of that whilst Adam  sorted her and the bed.

Never mind running, or writing up articles, my mind is occupied with puzzles and the frozen theme.   I’ve finally realised the purpose of those 20 minute “I’m just resting my eyes” on the sofa moments that seem to have sustained my mother through decades of caring for kids.

I’m back to ‘good sleep’ meaning just any sleep, never mind 7-8 hours.

It’s times like this I think that any ultra-marathon ambitions are just nuts at this time.  How can I commit to anything other than just sorting out my family and making sure everyone is well?   So when I’m lying awake not sleeping as I want to be sure my son is breathing ok, I read stories such as this, which just remind me of the power of human will triumphing over our mind’s excuse-making capabilities. (more…)

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Parenting by instinct

I like to think I brought my children up according to my intuitive instinct, which, to be honest, was much more difficult than parenting according to ancestral advice, guidance from doctors or books.

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It was harder because it involved ‘well you’ll be sorry’ glances from probably well-meaning relatives, who thought it was their way or the highway.

It was harder because it involved trial  and (a lot) of minor errors.  It was harder because if you want a quiet life, you have to remove yourself from certain circles.

I didn’t set out with any objectives.  Knowing we were expecting twins, my only hope was to deliver them safely, and then keep us all alive.

I bought them cots and slings, but had no plans to do cry-it-out or attachment parenting.  I had read books on both, and although attachment parenting sounded more up my street, two babies in my bed, baby-wearing and on demand, full-term breastfeeding, free birthing to cloth nappies, no nappies? Some concessions would be necessary :)

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