Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Why mums just want to have fun

When I got asked on a girly holiday abroad by one of my close friends I smiled and said I'd think about it, knowing full well that of course I wouldn't actually go. Of course I couldn't go on holiday without my family; of course I couldn't leave my children for five days, especially not my eight month old. 

But see, the thing is, I'd never even been on a girly holiday before. In the diary I wrote, aged 16, I wrote a list of my hopes and dreams for the future, and I'd innocently scribbled the hope of a girly holiday, as though that's all a girl could ever wish for in life. Not only a girly holiday, but one to Ibiza where I got to dance on a beach. Simple things. But for one reason or another, I never went. And before I knew it I found myself running to catch a plane with two kids; swapping sunbathing for chasing children round a pool and coming back feeling like I really needed a holiday (because you can't class that as a holiday, right?). Mums love hanging out with their families (at least some of the time!), but we have to admit that it's bloody exhausting. And then we feel guilty for not enjoying every minute with them, or for begrudging getting interrupted on the sun lounger. We feel like we can't complain or have any time to ourselves. 

The more I mused on the prospect of a girly holiday, the more I realised how much I needed one. So what if I actually went? Maybe other mums would have jumped at the chance straight away, but my head was filled with the usual voices over every decision I make; you're too old; you can't do that now you have kids; it costs too much money; its not sensible. Sensible?  We teach our kids that they need to be sensible from day one, we drill it into them from an early age to play it safe; to avoid risk or failure of any kind. And although it's great to teach our kids to be wise, being wise is an entirely different thing to what the word sensible has become. If I didn't have enough money to go on holiday, it would be wise not to go, but if I did and I felt it should be saved for the next potential house maintenance, that would be sensible. Spot the difference? I was being entirely sensible about not going to Ibiza, as though my kids needed a mother who was at their beck and call every hour.

So I owed it to my sixteen year old self to go on a girly holiday to Ibiza, and I did just that. Before I knew it I was dancing on a beach to house music in my bikini, and I think I could've cried with happiness (Simple things, I know). We went for meals, we had cocktails, we danced, we laughed, we sunbathed and we swam in the sea. I had no one tug on my arm for an ice cream, no one ate any sand, I didn't have to cut up anyone's pizza or help anyone into bed (though it was close!). 

Some people seemed surprised when I said I was going abroad without my kids. I had many a raised eyebrow, many a confused look – you're leaving your kids behind? How old do you think you are, sixteen?! Yes, sometimes. And I'm still the same person with the same ambitions, though maybe they've evolved a little to accommodate things like more sleep. But what is it with mums and me time? Why is everyone so adverse to us getting it, not least ourselves? Why do we instantly discredit anything that is solely about our own pleasure as though that means we are being entirely selfish?

My kids got to stay with their grandparents while I was away, which my eldest was giddy about for two whole weeks beforehand. They got to go out for pizza with their dad, go on nice walks and get shed loads of attention. And when I got back I got to cuddle my four year old for a whole half hour which I don't think has ever happened in his existence to date. My eight month old beamed at me like a Cheshire Cat. I actually felt appreciated for a rare moment, and realised that me time is actually a very good thing for all of us. Me time is about giving my children theirs; allowing them to explore life without me for a while. Me time is also about letting my children know that I have a life outside of them; that my world does not revolve around them. Sure, I have sacrificed a lot for them, and will continue to do so, but that doesn't mean my life isn't equally as important as theirs.

So the next time a thought pops into your head telling you you can't do something because you're a mum, I challenge you to, well, challenge yourself. You are still your own unique person, with all the brilliant things that make you tick, you owe it to your children to invest in them and set an example for them to invest in themselves too. 

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