I absolutely adore my son. He most definitely gives me a reason to get up in the morning and I can honestly say that my heart is fuller since he arrived on the scene. And when he’s at daycare or I’m away from him, my heart literally (ok, not literally, but very close to) breaks. I miss him. He is constantly on my mind. Is he sleeping ok? Is he eating? How awful I feel knowing that he may be crying and I can’t be there to comfort him. Sometimes when he’s sleeping, I miss him too much I can’t actually stand it. But all of that love, that unconditional love of a mother, doesn’t mean I don’t need a break. I’ll admit that I’m a better mum because of the time we spend apart. And I’m not ashamed to say it.
Here’s the thing. Parents are not bad people or parents because they hand their children over to others. While care may be necessary due to work commitments, it’s a-okay to find someone to look after your child or children while you take a little break. It could be something as simple as a coffee down the road without a little person whining or stealing the chocolate from the top of your cappuccino (which let’s face it, is the best part), or something a bit longer like a massage. Or shock horror, a whole day to yourself, to simply recharge.
I went back to work when my son was four months old. I work from home, so I had the luxury of working when he slept. But I still needed a day to sit at my desk and really knuckle down. I needed a block of more than 40 minutes. Thanks catnapping child! Enter our exceptional family.
Since my son was six months old, I have driven him to my in-laws one afternoon and he has been delivered back to me 24 hours later. When my in-laws aren’t available, my dad or my aunt steps in. The day is out of necessity. But that night, holy moly, that night is heaven on earth. Not only do my husband and I get a date night, but we also get a full night of undisturbed sleep. While on every other night, we sleep (read: I sleep) with the knowledge that we need to listen out for our son if he needs us, one night a week, we sleep deeply. And I wake up rejuvenated. I knock out eight, sometimes nine hours of solid work. And when my son comes home, I envelop him in a massive cuddle, and we play. And you know what? I have the energy to play. I have the energy to smile and laugh. I have the energy to cook for him. And the best part about it is that I don’t have to dig deep for that energy. It’s there because I’ve had a break.
I know this is a luxury that many parents don’t have. I thank my exceptional village each and every day. Hell, I’m thankful for them each and every hour of every day. I know there are parents out there with no family around. There are single mums and dads who are doing it on their own. There are parents out there who work such different hours to provide the best possible lives for their children that they see each other for merely an hour a day. I never ever take our situation for granted.
But to all those parents out there who have help available, whether it’s family, friends, childcare or a nanny, never be ashamed to accept it. Never feel guilty for giving your child over to other people. Never feel pressured into doing absolutely everything yourself. If you have people around you, view the situation like this: your child is loved. Those people can give your child even more love. They can provide laughter and playtime. They can provide comfort through the tears for you and your child. Children thrive on love. Let your family, your friends, your childcare teachers and your helpers shower them in love.
And let yourself take a break.