“You make it look so easy”
Since having BM, a lot of people have said things like “wow, having three children really suits you” and “you make it look so easy”. It really isn’t. However, after a few years in the wilderness, I have managed to develop some strategies for coping and making sure the monkey show goes on (and on and on…). My parenting skills have developed with the assistance of self help books, Flop from Bing Bunny, magazine articles read during five minute visits to the toilet and other mothers. None of it is rocket science but sometimes you just need a reminder. It also occurred to me that some of what I have learned applies to getting yourself out and about, running or otherwise.
Not difficult to explain but so important. Ideally you would like to plan a time for just you. If this is possible, ask for help and include others in your plan. Hubby probably won’t be happy if he steps in from work and you run straight out the door. However tempting. When you have monkeys to juggle you must make time to plan. Be creative too, you don’t need to be sat down writing it all down. I plot and plan in the shower, whilst feeding BM or when driving. Remember that the Monkeys need to know what is expected of them so you can get the most out of the session. If you need to get out by a certain time, work out what time you need to factor in for putting on shoes and coats, putting up pushchairs, getting out bikes etc. If baby needs feeding, changing or winding make time. No one is having fun when the baby is screaming. Plan around times when you will be doing these things anyway. That way it won’t feel like a monumental task. Once again the school run leaps to mind as a good example. But remember not to overcomplicate things.
As I have already demonstrated in my other posts, you must be ready to compromise, negotiate or just totally reschedule. Leave some household chores in favour of a trip out. Your sanity won’t wait. The washing up will. When the monkeys are involved there is always the possibility of an expected hurdle, for example a last minute poo, tantrum or injury. Be prepared to think outside of the box just in case something unexpected occurs. MM has a tendency at the moment to have sudden bursts of rage followed by a break for freedom. He will run and run as fast as he can without looking back. Pursuing him with a pushchair and a reluctant TM is difficult and occasionally requires me to leave the 5 year old in charge of the baby. Not ideal, especially when you need to negotiate MM out of whatever random complaint has triggered his outburst. You know, a stick in his path, TM said something he disagreed with, a squirrel looked at him the wrong way, amongst others. If a trip home is required just remember you did your best and reschedule. They are only this young for such a short amount of time and before you know it you will be running alone. Just now, pat yourself on the back for getting out at all.
Take care of yourself mentally
This is very important. The monkeys will drive you crazy. You will feel frustrated at times and as if it will never happen. Keep the faith and try and keep your eye on the prize. A small slice of freedom. Take it from someone who once locked herself outside of the house on purpose in order to have 5 minutes to breath away from the monkeys. I had to stand under the window ledge as they had climbed onto the kitchen counter to look for me. I could hear TM saying “I know she’s out there somewhere”. Taking time out is so important. Whether it is 5 minutes away from a screaming child or a full night out with hubby or the girls, your time is important. Putting yourself first sometimes means that you are better prepared to meet their needs. I now attend a weekly slimming group just for a cup of tea. I’m not losing weight very fast but it keeps me focussed on me for a couple of hours per week. That may sound sad but some of those group members are now good friends.
It isn’t always possible to take physical time out with the monkeys around. I have, therefore, developed a way of mentally retreating to a quiet corner of my brain when dealing with stressful situations. It’s like turning the volume down and slowing the whole scenario down. I assess everything and everyone, one at a time, then consider the best approach. We call it the terminator eye. You know like in the movie. Scanning each monkey separately and choosing who to deal with first to make sure the situation is diffused quickly. This kind of thing takes a bit of practice and it doesn’t always work. My patience only stretches so far you know! Sometimes, I also just give in and shout anyway as I’m only human, sometimes it feels good to let it out and it does them no harm to know you have limits.
Take care of yourself physically
We are so good at neglecting ourselves once we have children. We run around meeting their needs, picking them up without bending our knees and undertaking things that physically we are not yet ready for. In a nutshell ladies, we need to look after our pelvic floor and backs. A good core strength is essential. There are lots of places online that we can find some good exercises we can do in a few minutes every day. I attend a baby yoga group that demonstrates techniques you can use whilst playing with baby. (I am hoping to post again about this in the future with some video or pictures to demonstrate). If picking up any monkeys of any age, I try and use a proper technique using my knees and core muscles to give myself a little work out. Since having TM 5 years ago I have been surprised at how much stronger my body is. For example, squatting down to talk at their level made preparing for the birth of BM a doddle. Other tips include, investing in proper foot wear and a good sports bra. I ordered mine today from boobiemilk.co.uk I’ll let you know how this works out when it arrives. If you need any insentive that this is essential I recently discovered that, when running, your assets don’t just bounce up and down. They actually begin to rotate in a figure of eight!!! That thought alone frightens the life out of me.
Make time and make it fun
Finally, and most importantly. Do not do anything exercise wise that makes you miserable. Exercise can be hard but it can also be amazing. Your monkeys need exercise to make them less irritating to your brain. We need exercise to make us better parents. At the moment we are not running marathons we are just laying the foundations (not that I ever had any desire to run a marathon). We are poised and ready for the day when the freedom of running all by our selves returns. Set achievable and realistic goals, however small. Every time you achieve one target, your confidence will grow and you will be better prepared to move forward. It is just about finding small pockets of time to fill with fun and laughter. If your monkeys are like mine, they will love to run too. They don’t feel the aches and pains that we do they simply feel free. Lets take a leaf out of their book.