Week 2 - Take a Break
The expections of a mum and when to take a break
Lisa, MumShape Founder
The single parent to baby Mila, part-time dog mama and start-up founder takes us on her 6 week experiment trying to reduce stress, work out regularly and improve her diet.
It is Thursday night, 10 pm. Baby's asleep and most mums and dads can now finally enjoy a few hours of freedom, quietness and just some alone time. Not me - my head is spinning while I am rubbing my Mila's back, who already woke up twice since I put her down at 7 pm. I'm going through my list of things that I still have to do tonight. One of them is writing this article that I already wanted to have published yesterday!
When do we know that it is time to take a break?
I've always been a very ambitious person. I love setting goals and working towards them. I function perfectly when someone gives me a deadline and I feel the pressure of time and expectations. But what changes when you become a mum? You don't get the weekend to just stay in bed watching Netflix and order take away food. You can't sleep in and catch up on the lost hours from the night before. With the birth of your child, you turn into a 24h machine. Looking back, I don't even remember how I survived the first few months after Mila was born as a single mama. I had a baby that needed to be fed every two to three hours, day and night, a dog that I had to walk three hours a day in snow, rain, and heat, I had a house that needed to be cleaned and at one point I had to eat as well. With all that to keep me busy, I'd notice changes in myself, too, like the odd grey hair or my nails that screamed for a pedicure. I felt weird even thinking that but should I have? Isn't it normal to long for those self-care days every once in a while?
You grow with your daily tasks and you find ways to manage your new mama life - discovering amazing hidden energy sources, patience and endless love. But for how long can you survive living this marathon without charging your batteries? And that is exactly where I was when I woke up a few days ago.
I started the second week of my fitness challenge with three full body workouts and a 5-mile run. Trainer Mark actually told me to start slowly so my body can adjust and get stronger day by day. But driven by all the endorphins, it was me who decided to lift a little bit more and go for an additional run - and it felt so good! I remember reading about and hearing from others how working out really helps balace out stress and increasing energy and for the first time in my life, I knew what they were talking about. I felt more energized than ever. The more energy my body gives me, the more motivated I become to work towards higher goals. I love it. This is what I need - an energy boost. But I didn't consider that my body basically hasn't moved actively for the last 1.5 years, that I had developed hip issues and other postural problems due to having my baby attached to my hip all day long. I also didn't factor in that my diet mainly consisted of chocolate, coffee and left-over kids food and snacks, that I never slept for more than 5 hours due to a baby that wants to be cuddled every night and desperately needs to be sleep trained. On top of that, that I am running my own business? My batteries were empty and as a result, I got sick!
So there I was, at home and in bed for 5 days. My whole body was in pain, I had a horrible headache - I couldn't do anything, didn't want to talk or see anyone. I just wanted to sleep. My body forced me to slow down and to take a break. No emails, no calls, what a challenge. I am horrible at doing nothing. And I am also constantly thinking about all the people I had promised to email and call etc. My German stereotypical way of thinking doesn't help here either. I hate not to be on schedule with work or won't be able to deliver what I had promised. But in order to fully function, we sometimes just need a break! And my body clearly told me to rest.
So in my bed, bored, I started thinking about expectations. Where do they come from? Is it me who just expects too much from myself? Or is it society that pushed me in this "default mode"? Here, I found the Goop Podcast 'How to Minimize Stress and Avoid Burnout' so eye-opening! Yes, it is the gap between what it's really like to be a woman and what people expect women to be, and we try to close the space between the two. Women are expected to give 110% at work but we still don't get fully recognized for that - so we're thinking that we need to motivate ourselves to work even harder. And after your extra hours at work, we go to the gym and shape our bodies to look like this sexy Instagram mama, get groceries and come home in time to prepare a healthy and tasty meal for your family - all organic, of course! At 9 pm the youngest family members are finally asleep. Dads 'naturally' don't hear the crying baby at night but they are also working very hard and need to rest of course. That's when mamas third shift starts before she happily wakes up in the morning and waiting at the kitchen table for her family to join her for breakfast. Oh, and I forgot to mention her other role as girlfriend/wife which usually needs to happen in her only three hours of downtime after dinner.
Sorry dads! I know you are not all the same. But what I am trying to say is that the pressure on every mum (home, working, single,.. ) is enormously high. We feel pressure and expectations from society, social media, family, work, from other mums and from the lady who gave me "the look" when my kid had her moment in the supermarket. No, we are not perfect, no one is. But we are all amazing mamas, trying very hard every day to be the best version of ourselves.
Sometimes a little hug and nice encouraging words are all a mama needs to get her going.
Sometimes she needs a nap or a relaxing bath in the evening.
And sometimes all she needs is to sleep and stay in bed for a few days. There will be no organic plant-based home-cooked for dinner and pancakes in the morning. But that is fine!
You are still the best mama in the world!
Thanks for reading!
shape it. love it. live it.