I wrote on Instagram last week about how I had been feeling a bit rubbish about struggling to find time for the me and my eldest to just be the two of us. I have felt a lot of Mum guilt of late… I think we probably all feel it far too much, and we definitely shouldn’t beat ourselves up… Doesn’t stop the feeling though. This parenting gig is the most wonderful thing, but it is also pretty tough at times. And I don’t think there is any harm in being honest about that. In fact I think its a good and healthy thing to be open about it. I love our little adventure boys to the moon and back, but I also question myself and my parenting all the time. Am I good enough? Am I getting it right?
Over the last few weeks, I have really felt a bit crappy at the lack of one on one time I spend with our eldest. It was just him for nearly 6 years until our little bean arrived 18 months ago. We could not love having two more… It is what we always wanted…and it took us a long time and much heartache to get there. Despite what my younger self thought about how easy it would be to simply get pregnant and have children whenever I chose, life, it would seem, is not that straightforward, and so it is that the gap between our boys is probably a bit bigger than we had ever imagined it might be.
So, it was just H for a long time, and whilst having a baby brother has been the best thing in the universe, it has also meant a significant adjustment in his little world. It is no longer just the 3 amigos. He no longer gets uninterrupted time and attention. And he is a super star about all of this most of the time. But I also notice, particularly recently, that he craves my attention. We did a fair amount of special Daddy and H time after R was born – it was more difficult for me, particularly with feeding, as I am sure many Mums will understand. And I think both he and I actually, really miss that time just the two of us – we used to have lots of it. Now we rarely get that quality one on one time. The week is full of school and sports and work. The weekends are special family time – and whilst that is literally our best time, it also leaves very little room, if any, for me to be with H… Just us, talking, laughing, just ‘being’ without me needing to do something else or ask him to ‘wait just one minute’. I hate how often I have to say that.
And I know that is reality…and he has a wonderful little brother and a full and varied life with lots of activity and brilliant family and friends. This kid is lucky for sure. But still, I know he needs – and wants – time with me. I can see it in the way he sometimes behaves at home. I don’t get to just be with him anymore… he has to wait, share, entertain himself, help, understand…and that is all well and good for him I know, but it is also a lot for a 7 year old. A 7 year old, who, actually, sometimes just wants to play, or talk. He is sensitive, thoughtful and he loves talking and learning. All things I figure we can try and do in little blocks of time together. Man it’s hard to juggle it all and fit it all in isn’t it?
There are things we cannot simply change. He has to go to school and I have to work. But I am keen to find ways we can get some time together, have little outings together, go on our own little adventures.
In half term we took the bank holiday as a bonus. Daddy looked after little bean and we had a Mummy and H day. He got to choose what we got up to (always risky!) and we had no deadline, no rush, just time. It involved breakfast, shopping for plants and the cinema (He is a child after my own heart – food, outdoors and film all in equal proportion!!!) It felt lovely – and my heart nearly broke when he asked in the car “Could we do this more often Mummy?”
Work and school and just the logistics of life mean it can’t be one on one like that all the time…But I am going to try and find some of that special time as regularly as I can… My thinking is that actually it doesn’t have to be a whole day… Reading together before bed, going for a bike ride or a walk, making sure my phone is away so my attention is full and complete, watching something together after little bean is in bed, heading out for dinner just the two of us every now and again. Hopefully those times will mean a lot to him (as much as they will mean to me). I am, like us all (I think?!) very much just winging it…so we will give it a go. Most importantly I hope it helps him so he knows I love him just as much as I always did. Those times when it is he and I are so much fun – we really laugh together, and so if nothing else it will be bloody good fun.
I don’t know if, as parents, we ever don’t feel some guilt or anxiety about how we are doing. Perhaps it is just a given part of this wonderful, ever so slightly epic adventure.
I would love yo hear how you manage to spend special time one on one with your children, or ideas for easily having fun together for an hour. What adventures do you find work best?
One of our next plans is to try and have a night away together just the two of us. Let the obsessive online search of cool glamping sites commence…
Happy adventuring xx