E+E Column: Catching Your Breath

As I slung a grumpy teething baby on my back in the wrap so I could do some work standing up at the kitchen worktop yesterday evening (long after I had wanted him to sleep), I realised that apart from meals, I literally hadn’t sat down all day. I was so busy getting kids up, breakfasted and dressed, rushing one child to her dance rehearsal (where I was chaperoning), making lunch, doing some housework and taking another rowdy child to the park later so he could get some exercise before starting on dinner and then tag teaming with Dan for bedtime that I hadn’t remembered to take any time to pause, sit down and recharge.

Before I go any further, I don’t want anyone to think this is a woe-is-me/motherhood-is-so-hard kind of column. I’m not looking for sympathy or trying to paint myself as a martyr. I’m writing this simply as a reminder to myself and anyone reading who might need to hear it, regardless of whether they are a parent or not that is incredibly important to remember to stop and catch your breath.

We all cram so much into our lives nowadays that we often feel that we simply don’t have time to stop. If we want to do everything we’ve committed to we feel like we need 27 hours in a day. The answer, I think, is to not take on too much, to learn how to say no. It’s easy to take something on, saying it’ll only be an extra hour a week but soon, all those extra hours add up until you’re burning the candle at both ends, unable to healthily fit everything in. Apart from anything else, if we keep pushing ourselves beyond our natural capacities, we’re prone to stress, illness and making mistakes. Much better to do less but to do it well, to be happy and to have time to rest.

So I write this with a sleeping baby asleep on my chest and a cup of chai steaming on the sofa next to me. I’m famously awful at remembering to take a break, I like to be busy. But I’m learning that we all need to stop, we all need to pause in our day. So whether that is a cup of tea and a bit of daytime TV, a good book in the bath (don’t drop it!) or escaping to the gym for an hour, if you’re barrelling along at a million miles an hour, don’t forget to take a break today and catch your breath.


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