If you're anything like me, the summer holidays fill you with just a little bit of dread. All those long, long hours to fill, ALL the meals and snacks ALL of the time, the shouting and the tears (from both you and the kids...) and the non stop negotiating.
The constant barrage of "enjoy every moment, they're only little for such a short time", "be grateful for what you have" or "count your blessings" can make you feel guilty for struggling. For finding it hard. For wanting a break and mourning your pre-kid life (like most Sunday afternoons, when I'd love a nap and a movie on the sofa). I very much disagree with the old "they're only little for the blink of an eye" statement by the way. The first year of my eldest's life was the longest I've ever lived through. Possibly because we were up so much. Time did not fly. And I did not enjoy every minute. In fact, I didn't enjoy many minutes at all. And a year is a bloody long time! Does that mean I was ungrateful though? Resentful, yes. Ungrateful, no. I am simply not a fan of the baby stage and that's that. And that's fine. Nothing wrong with that at all.
Every time I see #NoExcuses, or its equally nasty buddy #WhatsYourExcuse anywhere, it makes my blood boil. It makes me want to grab the person who posted it, shake them by their shoulders and shout "what about valid reasons you smug fool" in their face. The only other thing that has this effect on me are cyclists on the pavement and people swearing around kids.
What we're not programmed for is the chronic stress and sleep deprivation that parenting (or just life in general for most people) brings with it. We're meant to live in a tribe with our elders and relatives and share the stress of raising tiny people and deal with hunting, gathering and living - but many of us don't. So what do we do to reduce the effects of this chronic, low level, depleting and exhausting stress?
Depending on your situation, self care, or how you fill your cup / charge your batteries will look different. What does it mean for mums? Where does it fit in when you're so sleep deprived you're mainlining coffee and life seems like someone has set the incline and speed on the treadmill to max? If you have young kids it's most likely not spa days and leisurely lunches with your friends. Or even soaking in the bath for 20 minutes. Those things are nice, of course. But what you really need are some realistic and doable things you can do frequently to get you through, and thriving, in motherhood.