As a full-time, working, single parent, I find there are often two things that I severely lack; time and money (though it was tempting to write patience instead of money). I truly struggle to balance my time effectively and ensure that I have time for both my work and my child.
I read one of those meme things that said that kids are like gas tycoons, they suck the energy right out of you. I cannot tell you how true that is for me.
I returned to work when my son was two and a half, almost three. At the time, I justified my need to return to work as the gaining of mental stimulation from adults, when really it was a matter of money. I was trying to survive on very little – in fact, I used to live on a fortnight what I now earn in a week. I thought that by going back to work on a casual or part-time basis, that I would have a good amount of ‘adult’ time and ‘mother’ time. Once I got a taste, this was no longer the case.
I found myself taking on more work. I WANTED to work; NEEDED to work. I needed to feel like more than just a mother. Which, I know, is a complete disgrace to say given how many people struggle to have kids. I really liked having money for the first time in ages.
I knew my son was about to start going to kindergarten and the town where I work isn’t flush with job opportunities. So, when one presented itself to me, I grabbed on and I haven’t let go.
I threw myself in to my job. In the first two years I was back at work, which steadily crept up to full-time, I think I had two sick days and a week off. In total! I was too scared to take time off for fear of my employer believing that I didn’t value my job.
My work/life balance was all screwed up. I missed the majority of my son’s transition to his first year of school, despite the fact that my boss told me I could take the time. I wanted to show HIM that I was willing to go the extra mile.
What I didn’t realise I was doing to myself was placing undue stress on my mind and body. There’s a reason that you’re given leave, by law. You NEED to rest your mind. You need to recuperate from the stress of everyday work life. Add to that, that I am a single parent and work doesn’t end when the proverbial bell rings at 4.36pm (long story, I’ll tell you all about it one day).
I was finishing my work day, going to pick my son up from my mother’s house (who would openly and vocally tell me that I was too harsh on him, so my parenting was constantly being judged), take my son home and begin the rigmarole of my second, and most challenging – albeit unpaid – job. Parenting.
My son HATED daycare with a passion. He’s not a kid that makes friends easily. So he’d cry every day that I took him to daycare. Instead of staying with him to settle him, I would look at the clock and know that I needed to be at work. I couldn’t stay and comfort my crying offspring, I needed to pay the bills. My priorities were all screwy.
To add to the hectic days, I felt the pressure (mostly from myself) to maintain a gym routine as well. So, I was doing all of the above as well as trying to keep myself fit. Ugh, I’m tired just thinking about it.
I had NO time for myself. Or so it felt. This kept going. I kept putting everyone ahead of myself, not taking the time to decompress each day. Until I broke.
In completing the Find Your Calling program, I learned that I needed to be a lot easier on myself than I was being. I’m not perfect. And that’s ok. Why do I need to be? Who exactly benefits from my perfection?
I try to take time in each day for myself. Whether it’s the end of each day when I lay in bed and read (probably later than I should), or when I have a sleep-in on a Saturday morning. The world isn’t going to fall apart if I stop, relax and breathe.
We should probably ask the expert, Maria, about her tips for making sure we take time for ourselves. She’s the expert…I think she has a veg out day every so often to make sure that she’s in touch with her inner self.
A single mum who devotes her life to her son. Kate is an inspiration to everyone who has been through tough times. Her insightful writing explores her own deep inner struggles that many women can relate to. She is courageous and hopes that her writing can help other women break through the barriers that hold us back, through her personal life stories.