Posts tagged #mama pyjama syndrome

5 Steps Back To Self

Two years ago you wouldn’t have even had to ask me how I “balance being me with being a mum” – the answer was spelt out loud and clear in my unwashed hair, two year old maternity wear, and blank stare: “NOT VERY WELL”!  I was right smack bang in the middle of “Mama Pyjama Syndrome”, living each day just to get through to the next nap time.  I’d let myself go, forgotten my passions, and had made putting myself last an art form. 

Two years on, I still battle to keep the Mama Pyjama at bay some days, but I’ve worked really hard to rebuild my sense of self and ensure a better balance exists between my dedication to my family; and nurturing my own passions.  I thought I’d share the first five steps I’ve taken on my journey back to self…

Losing Myself

Losing Myself Mama Pyjama

It’s been a while between blogs…and if I’m honest, it’s because I’ve been staring down the slippy slope to Mama Pyjama Syndrome.   It’s been a reminder of how easy it is to let yourself slip.  Before you know it, you’re back in the cycle of letting life happen TO you, instead of actively participating in the living. 

I’ve been under a big chunk of pressure at work.  I remind myself daily that I’m not out there saving lives…but ultimately, I’m still trading forty hours of my life a week for this.  My life: my time with my kids, my time with my husband, my time for me.  It needs to be for something more than just the money.  There needs to be value in the trade-off, because when there’s not, it’s deflating and disempowering.  It just feels...wrong.

I’ve been absorbing so much of the negativity around me that it’s started to grow inside me and is making its way out of me in the form of complaints and judgements.  This is not who I am.  This is not the person I want to spend my life with. 

This is how it starts.  We’re going through the motions; feeling unfulfilled.  We’re doing stuff, throwing our heart and soul into it, and we’re getting little in return.  We’re working ‘round the clock but no one’s noticing.  We’re slowly fading.  Wearing down.  We didn’t have time to do the stuff we like to do last month, last week…and now we’ve pretty much forgotten about it altogether.  There’s no time right?  Everything else is more important, right?

Wrong.  This is the problem.  Whether the current demand is raising our newborn, or running our household of teenagers, or managing our career, or all of the above – the impact is the same.  If we put our ‘self’ on the backburner, all of this will be in vain.  What’s it all worth in the end?  When the demand and pressure lifts …what’s left of you? 

I’ll tell you what will be left.  A shell.  Oh sure, it’ll be a super-functioning shell, and people will no doubt shout praise about all the things you DO.  They’ll say how you “always get the job done”; how you’re “always there for them”; how they “don’t know how you do it”.  But what will they say about WHO  you are?  What you’re passionate about?  What sets your heart on fire?  What would you  say? 

When they ask you what you like to do in your spare time, how will you answer?  … “What spare time?”…Yep, this is the excuse you’ll use to cover up the fact that you can no longer remember what it is you like to do.

So here’s the deal - I can see myself slipping again, but I’m going to pick myself up and I’m going to practice what I preach.  It’s time to redefine my career.  It’s time to put some more colour back into my outfit.  It’s time to smile, to breathe deeply, and to embrace the new day when it breaks.  It’s time to remind myself of the importance of the present moment.  If it’s not working for me, I’m going to change it.  If I can’t change it I’m going to follow the wise advice to “change my attitude”.  We create our own reality.  The challenges before us are there to help us grow, learn, mature, heal.  I will embrace and treat them accordingly. 

There is time for me.  There is ALWAYS time.  I will plan a catch up with my best friends.  I will book in a night out.  I will find something fun to do with the boys that is active and creative, and I will get up and get out of the house with them no matter how overwhelming that feels.  I will achieve the goals I have set myself and I will do it with a positive mindset.  I won’t waste my breath complaining or judging the behaviours of others.  Right at this very moment, someone is taking their last breath.  I’m going to make damn sure my next breath counts. 

First Birthday

First Birthday Mama Pyjama

A year ago today I threw myself blindly into the blogisphere and launched Mama Pyjama. I’ll be honest and tell you I had no idea what I was doing (I don’t think I’d ever actually read a blog before!)…but I did have a very clear mission.

That mission was to connect with parents suffering from “Mama Pyjama Syndrome” and give them the drive to pull themselves out of the rut and back into life again! My driving passion was to be a part of other people’s journeys of rediscovery. In short, I wanted to be the catalyst in getting other parents to reconnect with their passions and their sense of self.

It’s been a massive learning curve for me…there’s been moments of self doubt, internal conflict and confusion. But these moments have been well and truly outweighed by the moments of hope, happiness and clarity that have been borne through the simple act of speaking openly and honestly about my life and the ensuing support of my readers.

There’s nearly 3000 of you now…and whilst that may not be a big number in the grand scheme of things – for a small town girl like me, that’s a heck of a lot of people in my corner. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my life with you all.

I have also had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things in Mama Pyjama’s first year. It’s hard to believe that not that long ago I was trapped in my pyjamas just going through the motions!

Now I can proudly say I’ve worked with some big industry names like Bonds Australia, Disney, GAIA Skin Naturals, Kosmea Australia, Johnson & Johnson, Natural Life, iVillage and Bub Hub. I’ve interviewed some truly inspirational people – like the founders and creators of both GAIA Skin Naturals and Madame Flavour Tea. I’ve won a couple of blogging competitions and been nominated for a few more, which has brought with it a sense of pride and achievement. But most importantly I’ve connected with kindred spirits all over the world, some of whom I now call friends, and some of whom have attributed positive changes in their life to Mama Pyjama. I can’t tell you how amazing that makes me feel and how grateful I am to have the chance to make a small difference in the life of others.

So as not to go on, I’ll finish up here by saying – it’s amazing what you can do in a year if you set your mind to it. Remember, I was zombie mama: living each day just to get through to the next nap time. Now I see doors opening everywhere I look. I’ve got so many ideas in my head that sometimes there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week. I want to DO stuff. LEARN stuff. LIVE stuff. And it only took a single moment to trigger that shift. Don’t wait any longer to make a change. All you have to do is want it, commit yourself to it and truly believe it is possible. The rest will fall into place.

Breaking Free

"What? I'm igniting my passions!" ;)

"What? I'm igniting my passions!" ;)

Put a video camera in front of my face and suddenly my mouth’s contorted like I’ve just had a root canal, I’ve a vocab of about three words, and I’m all machinegun giggles (this awkward heckling can be heard ringing out through every poignant scene in my wedding video)… So why would I audition for a reality TV show?!  Sounds crazy right?  But that’s exactly what I chose to do on the back of being told I was “boring”.

I realised that I needed to do something drastic – something that completely challenged me, in order to restart my engine.  I’d been idling for years, sitting on the sidelines, waiting for someone or something to come and pull me out of the rut I was in.  I chose to leap, two feet first, guns blazing, straight from Mama Pyjama Syndrome into a ring of social judgement (‘cause that’s just how I do things, but I’m sure that the same can be achieved by taking less extreme steps).

Suffice to say, I didn’t get through to the final round of auditions but what I gained from the experience was the kick-start I needed.  I felt re-energised by the challenge.  As corny as it sounds, I actually felt like ‘me’ again.  I was doing something that for me was completely ‘crazy’, completely on a whim, completely self-driven - and it felt awesome.

When we're feeling exhausted and a little lost some days it seems almost impossible to brush our teeth, let alone get up and do something that falls completely outside the realms of our comfort zone.  But it's so important to do things that increase our energy levels.

I'm no expert, but in my experience, it’s the things that force you into the “now” that set your energy levels flying.  For me it’s activities that get my adrenaline pumping – like rollercoasters, sports (and reality tv auditions!).  Things that force you to think of nothing other than the present living moment.  Activities that elicit the ‘fight or flight’ response.  Obviously this isn’t really a sustainable approach to maintaining our zest for life, but I’ve found it a very effective jump-start tactic, and one that has been pivotal in pulling me out of my Mama Pyjama Syndrome.

I challenge you to take a chance this week.  Say yes to something you never thought you’d be able to do.  Get the blood pumping through your veins again.  Take the time to remind yourself of what makes you, “you”.  Part of being a great parent is knowing who you are and what makes you happy.  Don’t let “yourself” get lost among the dirty nappies and sleepless nights any longer than is absolutely necessary (yes, there’s a period of time where there is little choice but to put our “selves” on the back burner, but that period doesn’t need to last forever).  If you see an opportunity to reignite your passions – seize it!  There’s no shame in being both a “parent” and a happy, fulfilled individual.  We wouldn’t want our children to settle for less than that as adults, so let’s lead by example.  Go on, get out there – break free!

Zombie Mama

"Something ate my braaiiins..."

"Something ate my braaiiins..."

Sleep deprivation is a very effective torture technique – it “can cause impaired memory and cognitive functioning, decreased short term memory, speech impairment, hallucinations, psychosis, lowered immunity, headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety and depression.” Source

I didn’t realise I was signing up to be tortured when I decided I wanted to become a mama! ;)

But that is what it is like – in my experience, it started at around 6 months pregnant (my reflux was terrible!)…and it’s only just now, four years on, that the torture is starting to subside.  Is it any wonder then that our tempers are short, our relationships are strained and our usually enthusiastic selves end up shelved somewhere amongst the spare buttons, odd socks and the ‘I-forget-what-these-are-fors”??

So how do we cope?  What can we do?  Well…don’t do what I did!!  If you’re offered the opportunity to sleep whilst someone minds your child – take it.  Dishes don’t clean themselves and clothes (though some of my kid’s clothes look like they could) don’t stand up and walk themselves to the washing machine, I hear you thinking.  I know, I know…there’s certain things that need to happen in order to keep life ticking along.

But, if you have this notion in your head that you need to be a domestic goddess as well as a mum to a newborn – LET IT GO!  Don’t set yourself impossible tasks just because you think everyone else is handling it so much better.  They may have a great sleeper, they may have a “nanny” or a “cleaner”, they may have a huge support network that you don’t even know about.  Grab the sleep where you can, and let the other stuff slide for a while.  What’s important in all this is you.  You can not shine, you can not succeed, you can not survive, you can not be the mum you so want to be – if you do not look after your own health as a priority.

Aside from the practical (and obvious, yet extremely hard to action) advice just to catch sleep where you can, there are a number of ways you can support your sleep deprived system.  Naturopath Tara Ross of Harmony Natural Medicine Clinic has been kind enough to offer her valuable advice to readers in a number of guest blogging articles that you can read here.

 

 

Identity Crisis

"I just remembered who I am!"

"I just remembered who I am!"

I remember doing a personality course and struggling to define myself.  I was asked "well what are your hobbies?”.  When I went to respond (to such a seemingly simple question) no words formed.  I stared blankly at the trainer.  “You must have a hobby!  There must be something you like to do?!”  Well apparently trawling facebook pages and ‘catching up with my friends’ do not constitute as hobbies!  I couldn’t even say “music” as I hadn’t picked up an instrument in over five years or even actively sort out new bands to listen to. 

So what DID I enjoy doing??  I didn’t enjoy much of anything to be honest.  I was just trying to get through each day.  The closest thing I had to a hobby was tackling the dinner dilemma every night. 

I remember feeling so embarrassed as I sat there listening to everybody else talking about all the things that made them happy, all the things that defined who they were.  I felt like a taco without the stuffing.  No substance.  Nothing that was just ‘me’.

What made the feeling even worse was that when posed with a further question “well, what would you like to do, if you could do anything?” I had no answer.  Not only had I lost my sense of ‘self’, I’d lost sight altogether of the person I wanted to be. 

Unfortunately, in that moment I didn’t grab hold of the reins and set about making changes.  I felt so defeated and lacked the motivation (and energy) to step up and face it. 

Besides, I had too many other things to think about and do just to keep my family functioning and my house running.  Sound familiar?

I realise now that knowing who you are (outside of your family and friends ), and making time to do some things for yourself, to follow your passions, to stand as a person in your own right, is just as important to your family as being there for them when they need you.  If you don’t follow your own dreams and feed your own passions, how can you possibly be the mother and role model you want to be?  You end up like I was…a shadow.  Sure, I was doing everything I could to ensure that my family was cared for, but what was I teaching them about happiness?  About desire?  About charging ahead in life and grabbing hold of as many opportunities as possible?  What was I teaching them about fun?

When people ask my children who I am, I don’t want them just to say “My Mum”.  I want them to say “My Mum, the best trampoline jumper in the world, a musician, a really really bad lion, a writer, a worker, really good at colouring inside the lines, a faster runner than me, fun…”