You know that feeling, when you just want to walk away from the half-made dinner and the filthy children in need of a bath and do one of those things you used to do before you had kids. Maybe you want to sit on the back deck with a glass of wine and watch the sunset, maybe you want to go hang-gliding, or maybe you’ve got a hankering for a night out on the town.
As a mum, most of the time we never get to act on that desire and so it dissipates into thin air, leaving you feeling stifled, or even depressed.
I have those moments quite a lot, most often while folding the washing! I just want to get out, I want to take off and do something crazy, something that makes me feel alive. But with three little girls, I rarely feel like I can.
It’s hard to find yourself again.
It’s even worse when you’ve been offered that activity you desperately want to do but you turn it down because you feel selfish taking that time to yourself, or that you couldn’t possibly do that now that you’re a mum. I had this very experience recently when I was offered a rare opportunity, and the energy of wanting to do it was thrumming through my body but I almost said no.
My neighbour has a huge gumtree that needed a dead branch removed and lucky for her, her brother, Steph, is an arborist. I was invited to watch his arboreal escapades and I looked on in awe. You see, I was one of the first girl scouts in Australia and abseiling was one of my favourite activities during that time of my life. I couldn’t help watching Steph way up high and wish it was me. It looked so exhilarating.
Steph asked if I wanted to have a go climbing the tree myself and rather than jumping at the chance, I (literally) bounced around not knowing if I should say yes or no. I nearly backed out, too, because my physical fitness was quite low at that time and I didn’t know if I’d be strong enough. Still, after my husband whispered, ‘just do it’, I made the decision to try, and ran inside to change my clothes and put on some sneakers.
Steph made it look so easy. He was very patient and guided me though how to leaver myself up the trunk using my body and trusting the ropes. I pushed on. Once I’d reached the top of one of the higher branches I could imagine just how a koala felt. The view over the treetops was breathtaking. I even bellowed like a koala too as my display of triumph. I did say I wanted to do something crazy!
Since then, I’ve slid down a very high kid’s slide at the park (what a rebel!), gone running alone in the bush and I’m hopefully going hot air ballooning next month. Life is good when you fill it with activities that let your personality shine.
Here are some helpful tips to get you doing what you love.
Find yourself: you can be a mother and be you
While your parental duties may sometimes prevent you from taking advantage of those spontaneous feelings at the moment they occur, you can still make an effort to fit those activities into your life.
- Get over the Guilt. Put aside the guilt. Don’t we eat ourselves up with it enough? It’s okay to take time for yourself. I know that I’m a better mother when I do.
- Make a list. Write a list of experiences that will make you happy. Keep your list in an area where you’ll see it every day.
- Schedule it in. Booking it in means you’re more likely to do it.
- Take your kids. If appropriate, let your kids come along to watch or join in the experience with you.
- Plan it. The last thing you want to do is ruin the experience because you forgot something. Make sure you take time to plan and be prepared.
- Do it. Try to do an activity once a week or at the very least once a month if time is tight.
- Be in the moment. While you’re doing what makes you happy, take a moment to really feel the experience.
Enjoy the little things
You don’t always have to make the experiences as dramatic as climbing a massive eucalyptus tree. Small things can make you happy too. If you’re a nature-mad person like me, perhaps you too like to lie on the grass, tend to the garden, pick strawberries, go for a bush walk or watch a sunset.
Climbing that tree arborist-style was an experience that filled me with nervous energy, excitement and triumph. I felt on top of the world. At that moment, I decided I was going to let myself feel intoxicated with life. I want my girls to grow up knowing that I’m a whole person, that I’m their mother but I’m also many other things like a nature enthusiast, blogger, wildlife education officer, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a big tree climber!
Yes, I’ll still have to tackle that endless mountain of washing to fold when I come home again but at least I know there’s someone inside who doesn’t hold back from following her dreams and the next time I’m offered a similar experience, I won’t hesitate!
What are some activities that help you find yourself?