I read a blog post the other day where a young mum (I say young, because she is younger than me) asked if you have to “give up your own life and all the fun stuff now that you have a toddler” and someone else replied in the comments that “yes, probably, at least for a while”.
Every now and then this is something that I really struggle with. I don’t want to give up all the fun stuff! At the same time, what I want most in the world, more than anything, is for my kids to be happy! I think that’s what all parents want. So how do you find a balance? Can you have the cake and eat it too, or will life forever be a slightly dissatisfying compromise from now on?
I find that for me it’s super important to focus on all the things that I can still do, prioritise, and really appreciate the little pockets of “fun stuff” that I actually get and not think too much about the stuff that I’m “missing out on”.
So what am I missing out on? If you ever came near a self help/personal development book you’ve probably read a variation of “what would you do with your life if time and money wasn’t an issue?” For me the answer to that question has always been (and will probably always be) TRAVEL! I love traveling! I have done quite a bit, but wish I’d done more. There is so much to see in the world, so much to explore and learn and experience. But with a baby and a toddler and living off of one income (because a Swede and a Kiwi living in Australia are not entitled to any financial help from any government, unfortunately) and also living in the second most isolated city in the world (Perth), well, traveling just isn’t on the cards for the time being.
Traveling is my “big thing”. Little things that I feel like I’m missing out on is; relaxing brunches with my girlfriends (worked with a baby, not so much with a toddler), hanging out at the beach, browsing second hand shops for hours, going to yoga class, SLEEP INS, going out for dinner/drinks/dancing, having the house tidy for more than 30 seconds at a time, and just being able to do things on a whim, not having to plan and be organised all the time.
I can see that these are luxury problems. I don’t need to do any of these things. But they are things that make me feel free and happy to be alive. They’re fun and I miss them sometimes.
BUT, like I said, I’m trying to focus on what I can do. So if I can’t go out for brunch, maybe meet up for a coffee in a park where the kids can have a play? Or go for a walk and catch up that way? Or, if my partner is at home, leave the toddler and just bring the baby, to brunch/dinner/the shops. Take an online yoga class. Fill up the little paddling pool we have and sit in the sun outside our house, not the beach but a bit of vitamin D at least. Cherish the few mornings when my partner get up with the toddler and the baby falls back a sleep and I get to snooze till 8am (the closest to a sleep in I’ve been for the last year and a half). Really enjoy these things, and remember that this won’t last forever. There will come a time when the kids are older and I will miss going to the playground (I know, I have a hard time believing it, but I’m told this will happen).
Another thing I think is really important is to not give myself a hard time for missing these things. I know being a parent is a blessing, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But it’s still okay to miss the freedom and lifestyle of pre-parenthood too, that doesn’t make me a bad mum, or a bad person. But I try to not get too caught up in it, it’s like missing other fun times in life, like high school, or backpacking in India or living in London, I loved all those times, I can remember them, miss them, but recognise that that was then and now is now, and then focus on being grateful for what is, and for what will be. There are pros and cons to all things and to all times in life. If I was still single and backpacking around the world, I would most likely have a great time, but I would probably also be longing for a relationship and a family.
I guess that my conclusion is that we can have everything we want in life, just not all at the same time. So on the days when I feel like life is over and it’s all dirty nappies and screaming and the theme to Frozen on repeat (a legit tool of torture), I try to remember that this too shall pass, I give the kids some extra cuddles (even if they’re trying to pull my hair out) and I focus on giving myself some extra love too. Maybe I get a good coffee, talk to my friends, have take-away for dinner instead of cooking, do a face mask in the evening, go to bed early, or, if all else fails, a big glass of wine and Netflix!