"Doing It All"
This post has been something I’ve wanted to write for a while, to offset a lot of talk out there about how mums can “do it all” and that it’s somehow easy. Disclaimer: this is a personal piece and I acknowledge there are mums out there who are more than capable of juggling all the balls, but I am a mere mortal!
I should preface this by saying I was once upon a time guilty of wanting to make it look as if I was doing it all - for Social Media and other sh*tty reasons. It was EXHAUSTING. You know what was easier? NOT doing it all… Now, when I’m asked how I’m doing, I always try and reply honestly - whether it’s about Leo’s sleep, my labour, motherhood i.e. he’s still waking every 3 hours, I hated my labour etc. and find it always opens mums up about their struggles and “fails.” And I often have a few up my sleeve - for example did you know that bananas constipate babies? 🤷
At 8 weeks postpartum, I remember talking to a friend about being upset I hadn’t shifted the weight I’d put on since my pregnancy. Looking back, my friend was right in calling me ridiculous. Current situation: I have still barely shifted it and have accepted this may just be my new weight. And a big (huge, overwhelming) part of feeling inadequate originates from Social Media - blooooody Social Media. So I unfollowed a bunch of people who were a bit too “postpartum-aspirational” and followed a bunch of hilarious mamas (@common_wild is one, who’s hashtag is #JiltTheGuilt). Yes, motherhood can be rewarding, enjoyable and all those magical things, but it’s also a slog of sleepless nights and “How long has that spew been there?” days.
The same friend told me “Comparison is the thief of joy” - that rings soo true when it comes to mamahood. So instead of comparing my body/meals/activities, this is what I’m adopting instead:
When Leo was about 4 months old, I hosted an illustration workshop event for 5 hours. It was an AMAZING night and I’m so grateful to all who made it happen: I had an evening without the baby, mingled with adults and was doing what I loved the most - illustrating! BUT. I worried about Leo not taking a bottle while I was away, that my husband wouldn’t be able to settle him, I manually pumped in the bathrooms because my boobs ached and swelled from not breastfeeding, and I was tired from staying up past my 8pm bedtime. I tell everyone those juicy details when they congratulate me on going back to work 😂
I find there’s just too much pressure on women these days to “do it all” - work, laundry, groceries, dinner, all while looking after bub. Looking after bub is a full time job. Everything else is icing on top. I was ticking all those boxes for a few weeks, but you know what? I cried a lot of those nights.
So I realised something had to give - decide what you can let slide and live with. For me, work now takes a backseat so while I still pick up projects here and there, I don’t put on myself the pressure to make $x or work 3 days a week etc. My family is my priority. It took some discussion with my husband and I acknowledge not all couples can financially afford this, but look after your mental health, especially when you’re not sleeping which makes everything a billion times harder. Order out when you can’t be bothered cooking - you can get your body back when bub is older and you have time for Pilates again. Or stuff it all and embrace the new bod!
And guess what? A lot of the pressure came from myself. People around me told me to not to worry about the laundry, to order food etc, but I “knew that I could do it.” Turns out I could, but not doing the laundry felt SO GOOD. Discuss with your partner what you can share the load in - it’s verrrrry important they’re supportive because single parenting is ridiculously exhausting (props to all those single mamas out there!). Maybe they take care of dinner 2 nights a week? Maybe they wake for the baby certain hours of the night? I used to feel guilty about having the Mr. wake up to the baby, but I forgot one thing - he’s the other parent.
One last thing - I’ve stopped caring what others think about my parenting, and you should too. Who cares if someone uses controlled crying? Or is going to breastfeed until their baby’s 5? Co-sleeps? Goes back to work when their baby’s 6 weeks old? Oh my gosh, so many more important issues to worry about. Don’t let anyone else judge how YOU are surviving. They are not going through what you are, they don’t have your child and did not have your sleepless night. Let’s be real about this, ladies - we gotta support each other!
Have you experienced any of this pressure? Tell me in the comments!