Being a young parent brings up lots of contradictions. On one hand, you want to be the best parent you can be, providing your child with warmth, clothes, a home and love. What tends to be forgotten is that you still to nurture yourself.
When I had my daughter Lily, I had just turned 20. I felt like I could cope with a child and that I could provide all those wonderful things for her, but I did forget about myself.
Looking back now, I realise that at 20, most of my friends were just moving out of their parents’ houses, getting their first jobs after university and getting out into the world, discovering so much about themselves. That period of learning and growing is vital to every single human being.
The hardest skill in being a young parent is getting that balance right.
This means making sure that you nurture your child in their growth and development whilst not neglecting your own.
It’s hard! Lily is now three and I think it was only about 18 months ago that I really starting remembering that I was Alex as well as mummy. Although they are both essentially the same person, but they’re completely different.
As a mum, I’m very strict.
I like to make sure that Lily has activities to do, is eating a healthy diet and is safe and loved by those around her.
Alex on the other hand…
Well, she loves studying and being busy, but also loves singing and being with her friends.
Making sure I have time to commit to both is hard, but it can be done.
Each week I go to Show Choir at university.
It lets me sing and meet up with my friends. Sometimes Lily comes with me, but most of the time it’s just for me.
This year my sister joined so it’s also a nice way to spend time with her away from everyone.
I love this time, I normally get the chance to finish a coffee while it’s still hot (I know, I’d forgotten they were hot too).
You need to make time for yourself.
It’s essential to your emotional well-being. Time to unwind and relax really can be the best medicine for stress and feeling tired and it doesn’t have to be expensive or flash, why not try some of these suggestions…
1. Indoor date nights
I love the meal deals you can get in supermarkets. For £10 you can get a “dine in for two” set with food and some include a cheeky bottle of wine! It’s a great way to relax and enjoy something a bit different without the hassle of finding babysitters and organising taxis!
2. DVD and snacks
It sounds simple, but when was the last time you got a chance to just sit and watch a film that didn’t have a certain chilly song in it?
I love watching films with Lily, but sometimes I want to watch one all the way through without the running commentary from her.
You grab a film in some shops for about £3. They’re cheap and cheerful and leave you feeling better about yourself. You can also grab a few snacks from your local 99p/£1 style shop. Night in for under £5!
3. A nice, warm bath!
It’s amazing what sitting in a warm bath with some music playing can do. The music helps you relax and the hot water helps your body get rid of all the stress. You can make it more fun with some bubbles or bath bombs.
Finally, find something you love that you can pick up every now and then.
It doesn’t need to be something that needs a lot of commitment, just something you can get out of the draw when you get a free moment.
I enjoy baking and have spent many nights baking biscuits or cakes, purely because I want to and I enjoy it! It’s something that makes me feel like me and I always have a sense of pride in the finished article (even if it looks like a child’s drawing!).
This time to yourself is magical, relaxing and important. The world puts huge emphasis and burden upon us to be perfect, doting mother’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To be a great parent, you need to have time to do things for you, that allow you think and feel like you can achieve anything!
Read more from Alex on her blog, YoungMummySurvivalGuide.com.