Self-care. It’s the parenting catchphrase of the minute, popping up all over my social media feeds and making me wonder where on earth these super-humans find that time to ‘carve out for themselves’ in order to ensure optimum wells of internal peace, joy and happiness! It seems to me that all of the other parents are effortlessly whipping up Pinterest-worthy, healthy lunches for their seven children, beautifully co-ordinating their kids’s OOTD down to the last mustard-coloured scrunchie, holding down their high powered jobs on Wall Street (or whatever the South African equivalent is), hand-rolling home-made sushi for supper and putting their brood to sleep in their soothing shades-of-neutral rooms, before whisking themselves off for their ‘self care’ moments of R&R, toasting the setting sun on a perfect day with their perfect cocktails and their perfect partners, who have spent the day achieving similar perfect feats. Hats off to them, seriously, but as a working mom of three I find that it takes everything in me to make it through a day, and, despite having the most hands-on Husdabind in the world, a typical spin of the planet sees my feet hit the floor before 6 am and only stop moving at a blur well after 9 pm. A victory for me is keeping everybody alive and not burning down the house while I cook. True story.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love how different each family’s style is, and I certainly don’t feel any pressure to be tastefully matchy-matchy with my kids, décor and house plants, but I do admire the balancing act of those who have worked out this ‘Self Care’ thing.
Usually, I’m pretty good at keeping a handle on my chaos, but recently it all got too much for me to handle, both on the home and work fronts, and I quite literally shut down from the stress. Think blank, uncomprehending stares in response to simple requests, panicking about losing my child at the beach only to realise that I was actually holding him, putting the washing in the bin instead of the washing machine, being offered a cup of tea and responding with floods of tears…. you know, run of the mill crazy lady stuff! Thankfully, I work for the most incredible people who, understanding the pressure I was under, instructed me to take some time off and do whatever it was that I needed to do to make my soul happy. I considered a few practical options (overdue hair cut, party shopping for The Guy’s celebration coming up in a few short weeks) before deciding to rather take the bull by the horns and do something completely indulgent. I needed to break the mould a little bit so I gave The Husdabind a call.
Me: I’m taking tomorrow afternoon off. Do you want to do something?
Husbadind: (no hesitation, or regard to his own workload) HELL YES!!!
We decided to do something totally out of character and leave the kids in the care of our nanny, secretly sneaking off to do something without the kids, just for the two of us – something that we would never usually do, something that would make us laugh and push us out of our comfort zones. Something like waterslides. That’s right, waterslides!
Once the decision had been made I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders, for the first time in as long as I could remember I had something deliciously different to look forward to – a change of pace, a break in the routine! I got that long-forgotten feeling of childhood delight bubbling in the pits of my tummy, the feeling of Easter egg hunts, Christmas Eve and birthday parties all rolled into one. I could hardly sleep, the excitement in our home was at fever pitch, made even grander by the fact that the kids remained blissfully unaware of what it was all about, or of the betrayal that was about to go down! I know, I know, we’re despicable human beings, but it was our delicious secret and we were loving it!
The new day dawned, and I wish I could say it was perfect waterpark weather, but alas, there were clouds in the sky and a nip in the air. My heart plummeted into my fluffy unicorn slippers. The little weatherman who lives inside my phone, however, assured me that there was still every chance of getting our slide on once the day progressed -the sun was scheduled to make an appearance for sure! Phew! Optimistically packing my cozzie and SPF50 kiddies sunscreen, I bundled the kids off to school and skipped into work, determined to make the absolute best of my time in the office before sailing off into the sunshine, and that I did! After I dropped the littles off at home at lunchtime The Husdabind and I sneakily met in our driveway, snuck into one car and merrily choofed on down to the beach. Anticipation was the order of the day!
Now, I’d like to take a moment here to pretend to be a wonderful mama who missed her kids and wished that they were with us to enjoy the fun and excitement, but alas that would be a downright, dirty lie! As one of the first ‘alone times’ we have had in 5 years, we regret nothing – NOTHING!
We raced each other down the tube slides, screamed our way down the terrifyingly fast Body tornado that ensures a good, solid splash up the nose before spitting you out into a freefall to the plunge pool about 2000m below (at least that’s what it feels like. In reality you may need to remove 3 zeroes from that number), floated around the lazy river in a couple’s tube a few times and caused an accidental multiple-body pile-up on the children’s slide because The Husdabind was a rookie and went down slowly because he was sitting up instead of flat on his back.
The only thing that we did not do together was the ridiculously high drop-off slide – I refused. I think that by now I know myself well enough to know that being half-drowned, winded and given an atomic wedgie is not really my scene. The Husband risked his life on that crazy thing though, and then, after emerging sputtering and half dead, had to risk it again because I forgot to take a photo, so I sent him back up. Naturally.
As we strolled hand-in-hand back to the car, sun-kissed, child-free and munching on caramel-dipped soft serve, we were both feeling more alive than we have in months! I guess you can invest in yourself and in your marriage in ways that don’t include daily sundowners, romantic weekends away and frequent spa treatments. Sometimes all it takes is breaking out of the comfort zone and doing something different and fun. If that’s what self-care is all about, then sign me up!