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When will life be normal again? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Carole Nyman   

Haringey Mothers, as it used to be called, was a part of my experience as a new mother, providing me with friends, a book group which I attend to this day and a sense of being part of a friendly, stimulating community.

Now my children are 21 and 16 and it’s called Haringey Families, and I am delighted to be contributing this to their newsletter as I reflect on those earlier experiences of motherhood with the benefit of hindsight and my subsequent training as a couples counsellor and Human Givens Therapist.

I remember an intense concern to get it ‘right’ all the time, tiredness, not wanting to sleep train my baby because it seemed cruel, spending ages exhaustingly cooing my baby back to sleep, feeling envious of women who had their mothers around the corner to help, having no babysitting or support in the form of being there to hand over to when I was too tired.

I didn’t see that my sense of being sometimes overwhelmed, often fraught and always intense is common, normal and would definitely end.

My friend Nicola remembers wondering when life would become normal again for her and her husband.  They had been together for about 10 years before having children, so the difference that it made to their relationship was a stark contrast to their lives pre-children.

As we know, parenthood is great and being able to raise a child is a wonderful privilege, so what is going on?

Well, we all need to have our needs met in balance in order to be healthy, but parenthood seems to be about putting our children’s needs before our own, and being at home with small children unquestionably throws so many of our own needs out of balance.

Let’s start with the need for security which is fundamental. Essentially, you just may be earning less if you are working reduced hours, so that is going to be worrying. No question about it.

Financial benefits aside, however, work satisfies other needs; the need for social interaction, providing colleagues to banter with and a sense of belonging.  How many parents, whether single or in relationship, struggle with a sense of loss of adult company?

Thank you to Haringey Families, which is particularly useful here and provides a sense of community, one human need which is actually enhanced by parenthood.

Not so our need to feel a sense of being stretched and challenged.  Paid employment satisfies that need well and isn’t easily replaced. My own way was through joining a book group.

Finally, which full time house parent isn’t acutely aware of the loss of a sense status that having a job bestows? As my friend Jane says: “Why is being at home with children ‘proper’ work only if the children belong to someone else? ‘Do you work?’ really means ‘do you earn money?’, doesn’t it?”.

So what can you do if you are wondering when will life again be normal for you?

Clarity is power.  Start by getting a clear idea in your mind of what that normal would be like for you and then draw up a wish list of what it will take for you to start to feel normal again. The more specific the list is, the better.

So if, for instance, you hardly have time to do anything for yourself, even finding time to pluck your eyebrows, and if it’s important to you to be able to do that, then put that on your list. Include all of those little things that you mind not having anymore; whether having an uninterrupted coffee with a friend, a private walk in the park, or going to see a film, or having a quiet dinner with your partner, maybe even having sex with your partner.

Try to make your list orientated towards your needs.

Next I want you to look at this long list and ask yourself a question in two parts:

(a) is there is anything on that list that you have already in your life now, even in some small way?

It’s too easy to overlook times that you have these things because if you naturally feel frustrated that there isn’t enough of those things happening for you, that will set the mind going into a state of black and white thinking, which misleads you by telling you there’s ‘never’ any time or ‘always’ too little time.

(b) is there anything on that list that you can have now or in the near future with a little planning even in a small way?

If it seems hard to find any items from the list that are realistically achievable, it may be that you need to break them down into more specific tasks or smaller parts.  Remember, the way to eat a whole elephant is by one bite at a time (sorry, I am vegetarian actually, but you get the idea).

For good discussions about something other than children once in a while, consider joining a book club. The shared goal of a book club and the camaraderie and the deadline help with the need to feel stretched and stimulated. Or joining a walking group can be hugely beneficial, for similar reasons.

It’s important to realise that because this list of yours is unique to you, it represents something special to you as an individual, and so completing any activity from your list, be it small or large, will feel meaningful for you beyond the simple activity itself; a purposeful move in the direction of getting your life back on track.

Carole Nyman, Couples Counsellor and Human Givens Therapist

Give me a call now on 07941 914 689 or eMail Me

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