Dear me with all the babies – I went for lunch on my own just for you

I loved having my children so close together. The three of them were born in four and a quarter years. Miss E was 21 months old when Little Man O was born and he was 2½ when Littlest Boy I came along. The year when I was on maternity leave with the three of them was one of my favourite times in my motherhood journey so far. I loved having my little gang with me; taking the three of them to toddler groups and soft plays; meeting with friends and their kids; going to the park; lazy mornings reading books at home; and then dropping Miss E to pre-school every afternoon and hanging out with Little O while Littlest had his nap.

When maternity leave came to an end we soon realised that the cost of childcare for three would eat up most of my potential earnings. Yet we couldn’t afford for me not to work at all. And so I made the slightly bonkers decision to spend my days with my kids and work in the evenings when they were in bed.
I loved it. But it has been full-on! Chasing round after two pre-schoolers while breast-feeding a baby. Sleepless nights. Nappies and toilet training and baby-led weaning and worrying about whether my baby was getting enough sleep as his lunch time nap always coincided with the preschool run. Doing the weekly shop with three kids. Two kids crying at the same time and trying to comfort and help them both. At my desk or teaching yoga most nights. Taking work phone calls in the park or soft play and trying to sound professional.

I was beyond happy with my little family and I always felt so privileged to be able to spend so much time with them. But I was knackered – physically and mentally. There were days when I longed for a moment of silence. There were days when I wanted nothing more than to go to the toilet on my own without little people climbing all over me or trying to flush the loo while I was sat on it. There were days when I would hide behind the kitchen cupboard scoffing my face with chocolate before it was even 9am because they kids were squabbling or because I’d been up late working.

I’m the first to admit I find it hard to be away from my children for long periods of time. And I miss them so much when they are in school. But back then I remember feeling so desperate just to have the odd half an hour in a coffee shop on my own to have my mind to myself for a while. There were evenings when I’d go to the supermarket by myself and it felt akin to a spa day; or the odd weekend afternoon where I’d meet with friends or do some yoga or whatever. But as I’ve written before; the thing with me-time as a stay-at-home-mum is that to feel the full benefits it needs to come when you would otherwise be with the kids. It’s like annual leave from work. Not being in the office when you usually would be is proper time off. The weekends and evenings don’t count.

Now that my youngest has started pre-school nursery every afternoon I am suddenly in the position of having two child-free hours three days a week during term-time. (The other two days are my official work-at-home-during-school-hours-and-trying-to-cram-in-as-much-as-is-humanely-possible-while-simultaneously doing-all-the-housework-and-family-admin-days when he starts the day at cylch meithrin/Welsh playgroup and they take him straight to school nursery.)

This time will predominately be devoted to work so that I can finally free up more of my evenings.

But I’ve also realised that I need to give myself the me-time I have barely had the last 7¾ years.

A few days into the start of term was Little Man O’s 6th birthday. I always find it strange sending my children off to school on their birthdays. When they were pre-schoolers we’d go for a fun day out somewhere on their birthdays and not having them around just feels odd. Having another child other than the birthday child feels even stranger.

After the school run I took Littlest to gymnastics and to the park as if it was any other day. I dropped him off to pre-school and it dawned on me that this was the exact time my middle child was born. After a slow-going labour which involved 65 hours of contractions at five-minutes apart from the get-go he made his entrance into the world at just after 1pm. I’d been planning to go home and crack on with the cleaning and some work emails. And then it suddenly hit me. All those days when all I wanted was half hour to myself to sit in a coffee shop lost in my own thoughts. I can actually do that now.

And so I went for lunch.

In a trendy bar.

On my own!

And it was wonderful.

I know for some people the idea of going for a solo lunch fills them with dread. But I’ve never been bothered by that. It just felt like such a decadent thing to do in the middle of the day and something I’d not been able to do for years. I’m not sure what the bar staff made of me in my school run attire turning up and asking for a table for one and sitting with her back away from the rest of the tables.

To be honest I don’t really care.

All I cared about was that I owed this to the me of the last nearly eight years. For all the times she wanted just half an hour on her own. For all the times she dreamed of eating a meal with no one complaining or stealing food or throwing it or needing a wee half way through. For all the times she wanted to drink a hot drink while it was still hot.

Dear me with all the babies. You did it mumma. You gave everything you could to those babies to make those pre-school years so wonderful. You sacrificed work opportunities and the money that went with it. You sacrificed your evenings. You and your family made huge financial sacrifices. You sacrificed new clothes and fancy holidays and trips away and nights out. Your house is still in the same desperate state of needing to be renovated as it was when you moved in six and a half years ago. At times you sacrificed your sanity. At times you wondered whether you were doing the right thing. Whether a ‘proper’ job would be a better option.

I took that lunch for you.

I owed it to you.

And I promise I’ll do it again soon.

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15 Comments to Dear me with all the babies – I went for lunch on my own just for you

  1. I totally get this! As a mummy of five, I had my youngest three in just two years, and WOW that was tough at times! That said, now they are all in school and one in pre-school, last week I went out for lunch with a friend and I realised and got quite emotional to think that this was my life now. We so look forward to the weekends when the gang is back together!

  2. I love the honesty in this post! It is so important to get some ‘me’ time as well as doing all the other things day to day life brings. I was one of 4 and we were all quite close together too so after reading this I feel for my mum even more! It sounds like you’re doing a great job though! Keep it up 🙂

  3. Oh my goodness! I had mine last two children close together, but you sound like a super-woman, having three within such a short space of time. I needed to flomp out every evening as soon as the children were in bed, the fact that you then went to work blows my mind!! I think you absolutely deserve some me time and lots of lunches 🙂

  4. I totally feel you! I had my three in the space of just over 3 years and it is tough (I bloody loved it though) It is so nice now theyre all at school and nursery to have a little bit of me time every now and then. Enjoy it love you deserve it xx

  5. I once read that by having me time makes you a better mummy because you take that time to unwind. Restock and recharge. So true x

  6. I loved this post! Like you I haven’t gone back to work after the two of them and work in the evenings and it really is full on. Well done for taking that time, I would love to solo lunch and would definitely not care, it’s such a rare thing to have ‘time’ xx

  7. Oh gosh I am so with you on this and felt every single word. I have big gaps between mine, now they’re aged 18, 12, 8 and 8 twins my last ones. But for years I felt like I always had a small child with me! Yes I got a break here and there and even went back to work briefly after my first but it wasn’t really until my twins were at school that i had that feeling of being on my own again after so many years! I know how wonderful it is being a stay at home mum but equally how hard it is too. i’m so happy for you having that lunch on your own. Please do it often and don’t feel guilty. You have done so much for your kids, your words resonated with me as I too sacrificed (and still do) so I can be with my younger three in the school holidays, you should be so proud of yourself. ps I hope your hubby gives you a hand with the housework 😉

  8. I’ll be in a similar situation next year when my daughter starts nursery. The luxury of just having those couple of hours “me time”. It will be the first time in 9 years I won’t have a baby or toddler with me 24/7 when I’m not at work.

  9. What a lovely thing to do. I’m with you on this – I so need some Me time. I wonder about going into a trendy restaurant on my own though – I would probably be a bit reticent.

  10. Can definitely relate to this. I love a little bit of me time, so I’ve taken some of my annual leave but have kept my little boy in nursery. I have a to-do list as long as my arm but I’m going to carve out a little bit of time just for me as well! Amazing what some free time can do for your mental health too.

  11. What a lovely post and you definitely deserve some me time. It truly is the weirdest feeling when you start having some time to yourself but also after a while getting used to it, it is so lovely and so needed for our own sanity and to feel energised to start again. xx

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