I kind of feel like a failure today. I’m overworked and seriously overwhelmed with the ridiculous schedule that being a parent brings. Never getting a break when one is due, fourteen plus hour days and never managing to stand (or sit) still for more than a few minutes at a time. Usually instead of catching up with chores I end up flopped on the sofa with a mug of coffee and a decent book as soon as both kids are asleep. Lazy but needed! The standard parenting experience. Need I say more?
Now to the point of this post….
I am disabled three times over and also have some mental health issues just to add fuel to the fire. I know I shouldn’t be; but sometimes I’m ashamed of all of my limitations and how they might impact my daughter’s lives. Somedays I feel almost as sprightly as most other mums and can play, laugh and do everything that my girls need and want from me, albeit slowly.
Then there are the other days where I struggle with the most basic of tasks. Brushing my teeth, washing my hair or even making my morning cup of coffee, seem to be too difficult or exhausting to even consider. I have to regardless because life doesn’t stop just because I feel like Hell. The kids still need taking care of, work still has to be done, I still need to smile at people and do the shopping. Keep going… Hopefully catch my breath before the next thing on the agenda starts up.
I get so tired and sore somedays that I just want to cry. Then because I feel terrible, I get cross and impatient with the girls. Afterwards, I get the urge to sob again because I feel guilty for being snappy and not meeting my own high expectations of how to be a good mum… It’s a never-ending spiral.
The past few weeks has fallen into the second category; ill with a nasty cold and in a haze from several seizures. I have managed to do the minimum to make sure that the girls are well taken care of and feel just as loved as they deserve to be.
However, I feel awful; like they deserve so much more than me. Crappy legs, crappy brain, crappy mental heath and crappy coordination. Yay for me! I’m hoping that these issues don’t make me a crappy mummy. I’m sure they don’t but my brain likes hissing dark thoughts at me, whenever I feel low. Thanks depression and anxiety. You are always a ‘help’ in times like these.
Thankfully my partner has gotten a lot of the household jobs done (I’m a lucky girl) and has given both girls plenty of playtime before he has left for work, each day. I have a few sippy cups each of: squash, water and milk ready-made in the fridge and toddler/ baby ready meals await. Obviously I would prefer them to eat freshly prepared food but at the moment I’m not steady enough to manage cookers and/or knives.
I have a flask of coffee ready-made for when the urge strikes and ready meals waiting for when I feel well enough to fancy eating them.
Sorry for all the misery. I am starting to perk up a bit and today has been a lovely day filled with: building block towers, drawing, reading and singing. Such a blessing to have such beautiful and amazing daughters. I know how lucky I am, even if I have just spent 800 words or so complaining…
I figured that perhaps I should share my best bits of know how for dealing with the worst days, whether that’s illness or disability related. I hope that you will find them useful.
- Don’t feel bad about it. Everyone has days where looking after the kids is a little harder than usual. As long as they are fed, warm, clean and happy then that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
- Just do what you can, when you can. Can just face nappy changes and other essentials but can’t manage getting them dressed? Pajama day it is! They won’t care at all. Too tired to cook? Cereal or take away for dinner works. Every now and again as a ‘super, special treat’ won’t hurt. Just give them some extra fruit tomorrow, it all balances out in the end.
- Ask for help off of friends and relatives. I know, I know… It’s embarrassing and you can’t bear people to see you struggling. I hate it too but it means you get some well needed rest and the kids get loads of additional playtime. This in turn tires them out ready for bedtime. Win win and WIN!
- Sod the housework. When I’m at my worst I only aim for four things beyond basic child care. 1) Acceptable kitchen, 2) acceptable bathroom/ toilet, 3) clean bedding once or twice a week and 4) fresh laundry. Anything else is a bonus and can wait until the morning. If you’re that worried about it; just do five mins in each room each day. It really adds up over the space of a week. The other good one is; each time you go into a room put one thing away or wipe down one side ect… It spaces it out so you don’t end up as exhausted and a surprising amount gets done. Finally a positive to the kids making you stand up ten times in each hour.
- Get all your food for the next few days prepped and ready to go. Snacks for the kids chopped up and in containers. Meals (whether fresh or shop bought), prepped and ready to microwave. Sandwich fillings and sliced bread stocked. Drinks for the kids made up in the fridge and a flask of coffee ready first thing in the morning for when you need a quick pick me up.
- Plastic cups, tumblers and plates, especially if you can’t move very fast or have coordination problems. Last thing anyone wants is a glass all over the floor and cut hands and toes from either you dropping them or the kids knocking into them. Better safe than sorry!
- Remind yourself that even the worst days have to end at some point. Tomorrow will be better, you’ve got this! Okay?
- I know this advice is usually reserved for the folks with new borns but frankly it’s useful to anyone who’s exhausted or ill. Sleep when the kids do or at the very least put down the mop and broom and have a big mug of coffee. You will feel sooo much better and more relaxed for just giving yourself that twenty minutes of ‘you time’ . If you ever feel guilty remind yourself of the number one, key parenting rule; ‘if mummy is happier and not so grumpy, the kids are happier too’.
- Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and that’s great. Your children aren’t going to suffer any lasting damage from the occasional few days of: junk food, not getting dressed and you being a bit cranky.
- Apologise and explain that your poorly and very tired; if you’ve been too sharp with them or your partner (we all snap from time to time) even if they don’t understand, you will feel much better for doing it.
I hope my experiences have been useful for you and that you can use them to your advantage. Thank you for reading!
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