We wonder where the year has gone and regret what we haven’t accomplished.
We worry Christmas is looming and somehow, we have to find the time and money to buy gifts…while feeling guilty that maybe we should spend the money on those less fortunate.
We think about the friendships we promised to make time for and yet we haven’t. And we remember with a weighty sadness the people we presumed we’d see again in 2016…and instead we had to say an eternal goodbye.
If we are single, the questions start to come from friends and family why your status remains unchanged from last year. Because there are no partners or children, it is assumed you’ll naturally be prepared to stay at work to do that overtime over the silly season. Friends and family assume it is easier for you travel to meet them over the impending holiday period…and so chances are you will. And meanwhile, every single damn Christmas TV add shows the perfect family unwrapping gifts, with white teeth shining in the Christmas tree lights.
At this time of year I see parents even more burnt out than usual. This is the time of almost endless birthday parties every weekend, because 9 months ago when the weather was warm, Aussie BBQs sizzling and champagne flowing us Mummies had a chance to relax…
Consequently, we are now active participants in the birthday cake bastardary as we try to find another ‘unique’ birthday cake to make that may or may not make it on Facebook for peer review.
We are wondering which parent or carer has enough leave to cover the 6-8 weeks school holidays vs how much of a school holiday program we can afford to put our children in so they remain stimulated..and we don’t reach for the bottle (too often!).
Then there are the school parents teacher interviews, the concerts, the assignments and exams of overtired and overwrought children who put themselves under as much pressure as their parents.
I was having a lovely lunch with one of the amazing Mums I know who on the outside seems to have it all covered. She’s always immaculately dressed, her long blonde hair artfully styled. She works full time in senior management. She has three beautiful, happy, kind and intelligent children in a tidy house. But during one school drop off, I saw the tension in her shoulders, clenched around her neck. I convinced her to drive over my end of town one Friday for lunch and a cheeky midday drink.
She turned to me, this stunning paragon of Motherhood and said ‘At the moment I really don’t have any time for self care.’ And yes, she sounded guilty. Because yes, we do know self care makes us better Mothers.
She ran through all of her days, nights and weekends with me until the New Year. And she was right, she really didn’t have time. Yes, she could have said no to some work functions. But she was a good Leader and wanted to reward her staff for their performance during the year. Yes, she could have said no to some of her children’s activities. But I also well knew the pure delight on your children’s face when they see you smile at them from the audience is one of life’s most priceless joys.
And yet, she still felt guilty.
The harsh reality is, whether single or a parent/carer, the November Blues starts to grind us down because most of us will emotionally and physically neglect ourselves while we try to be all for everyone. And then we can feel guilty about that too.
But for the moment, letting the self care slip is Ok.
Because sometimes the extra guilt just isn’t worth it. The extra stress of trying to find time just isn’t worth it.
If you can find that time for a mani pedi…take it.
If you can find that time to have a coffee with the friend you really want to catch up before 2016 ends…do it.
If you can find 20 minutes for a nap while the kids watch my Little Pony and you leave the washing…then sleep.
Decide not to work through your lunch hour and go for a walk. Nothing chases the November Blues away like a walk in the sun.
Don’t feel guilty for doing any of those things. But conversely, don’t feel guilty if you choose not to. Life is supposed to have chaotic moments. When it calms down, then make sure take that much needed self care to avoid burn out.
Remember-it will be ok.
It’s your life and every decision is yours and yours alone to make you still do have the ultimate control over it.
It’s only through choosing not to feel guilty for your decisions through 2016 that you will manage the November Blues…and enter into December smiling.