It was five years since I had become a mother, and I felt like I had slowly been losing more and more of myself, with every “come on kids, get your shoes on”, every meal I cooked, every load of laundry, every stressful school drop-off, every manic morning, every supermarket tantrum and every time I said to my friends I was too tired to meet them.
I looked in the mirror one morning and saw a tired, stressed out, overworked, crazy woman who had totally lost her shit over the dog eating a toilet paper roll, and I just wanted to cry because I had no idea who I was anymore. It was in that moment that it became crystal clear that I could no longer go on like this and that something had to change.
And just like that my new journey into becoming a ‘do less’ mom began.
Doing less has changed my life. I’m just going to put it out there and let whoever is skeptical let it sink in.
I remember the first time I tried it. I had been working and rushed to get my kids from school after work, arriving home completely shattered, but knowing that I needed to fix dinner, put a wash on, tidy up the house, spend time with the kids, help with homework etc, when all I really wanted (and needed) was to lay on the sofa and have a lovely cup of tea.
I walked into the house, kids screaming, all trying to get my attention, dog jumping on my leg expecting his walk and I was just about to open my mouth and say the same line I say EVERY SINGLE TIME WE GET HOME – “take off your coats”, when I thought to myself “forget it. If they want to leave their coats on and boil they can bloody well do so. I need a cup of tea”.
And into the kitchen I waltzed, all three kids still in their coats tagging behind me, moaning about whatever as made myself a lovely cup of hot tea and headed to the sofa (kids still in coats and behind me) – I laid down and closed my eyes.
At this point, all three of my kids stopped speaking and just stared. I don’t think they had ever seen me do that.
How shocking is that? I mean, they have known me their entire lives and have only ever seen me rush, and run, and constantly do something, but never just sit still and do nothing…
My eldest broke the silence and asked “what are you doing mommy?” to which I replied: “I’m resting.”
Again silence, three confused faces looking at me in horror.
After a few moments, she said “why are you resting?” to which I replied: “because I am tired and I need a rest.”
Another word I don’t think my children had ever heard me say, possibly because over the last few years I have pushed those needs so far down the never-ending to-do list that even I forgot I had them.
It took the kids a few more minutes to realize I wasn’t going anywhere and they did eventually leave me alone. They even figured out that they should probably take their coats off (once they started sweating).
I laid there for as long as I needed, and when I was done, I got up.
I did not cook dinner that night–we ordered in.
I did not put on a wash, instead, I told the kids they better not get their clothes dirty during dinner cos they are wearing them again tomorrow.
We skipped the bath and watched a movie all snuggled up on the sofa.
To my amazement – no one died. The house did not fall apart. The kids were happy and fed but most importantly, when I looked into the mirror that night, I could see a glimpse of that woman I remember. The fun, bubbly, silly woman who truly thinks she is still twenty-five years old, who loves ice cream and traveling and music and drinking wine.
And I went to bed a tiny bit happier that night knowing that although the road is still long, I am finally on the right track.
*Dedicated to all you amazing, hardworking moms who deserve a break. I hope you allow yourselves to “do less”.
This post originally appeared on TovaLeigh.com. It has been reprinted with permission.