It’s ok not to be ok: Learning how to be kind to ourselves

Being kind is one of the first things we teach our little ones when they start playing with other children. But it’s only been quite recently that we’ve started to talk about being kind to ourselves. And when you become a mum, recognising the need to give yourself a break – both in real terms and psychologically – is important.

Because being a mum is hard – really hard! And then we put huge pressure on ourselves to be good at it all the time, and feel horribly guilty when we allow ourselves a moment to moan about it, or some time ‘off’ being a mum.

Just like anything in life, we can’t enjoy being a mum 100% of the time – and it should be ok to say that. Sometimes it’s repetitive, monotonous or frustrating. Sometimes we can’t always make all their food from scratch, and sometimes they will have too much screen time. Lots of mums (and dads for that matter) feel like they’re being disloyal to their little ones and family to admit that it’s not always lovely being a parent. But we should give ourselves permission to be ok with that!

If we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to voice the fact that motherhood isn’t always perfect, that pressure to be ‘on it’ all the time becomes self-perpetuating. Because if we don’t admit to our partners or friends or family that actually, today hasn’t been all cuddles and cuteness, they can’t help us – and they also won’t feel like they can admit to having a tough time.

I have two children and I (now) very openly admit that I found the first year of motherhood with my eldest really hard – and definitely still have times when I am tired, frustrated and easily annoyed! As a new mum I found it difficult to transition from my working life and complete independence to being at home more and having a baby who was 100% dependent on me. I also felt like I had to do everything since my husband was working full time – that it was my new ‘role’ to do all the night feeds / settling, to make sure the house was spotless, the washing was done and meals planned and cooked every evening.

But in the end that on top of the sleep deprivation of a baby who didn’t like sleep very much was all too much. And I found it really hard to admit – to say that I needed help, and maybe some time out. Even when I did admit that I was struggling, it was tricky to accept the help that was being offered. Having been quite a high achiever in my professional life I didn’t want to admit that I felt like I was failing. Of course I wasn’t – I’d just set myself crazy high standards which I couldn’t live up to. I was not being kind to myself.

It’s ok to want time to yourself – to need a break from your small, very dependent person or people. It’s ok to accept help. Having a break helps us to be better at what we do – whatever that is. That’s why we don’t work 7 days a week in our ‘day’ jobs. And it’s ok to say to our nearest and dearest that we’re not loving mum life all the time. We need an outlet – because if we don’t get that, either through time off or being able to vent to our partner / mum / friends, then our emotions will spill over into our mum life or married life – potentially negatively.