'I often joke that I didn’t know what “real stress” was before I had children'

'We all have stress and responsibilities as adults, no matter who we are, but as mothers we not only have to think for ourselves and deal with our own personal needs, we have to think about these little people who rely on us for everything.

Before I became a mum, of course I had stress and things to worry about, but when I came home after a long day at work I could close the door and only have to think about myself. There was no one to bath, or feed, or play with, to tidy up after, and no one else’s needs that I was responsible for.

In some respects I had a very carefree life. I often joke that I didn’t know what “real stress” was before I had children. Becoming a mother was not only the most incredible experience, but also the biggest shock to my system. I once heard someone compare themselves to a ship and its stuck with me for the longest time, and I think it's so relatable especially now I am a mother.

The mothers are the ships and the passengers are the children, the responsibilities, the worry, the household jobs, the day jobs, the to dos, the doubts, the worries, and so on. As long as we are keeping afloat and balancing it all, everything is fine, but once we start sinking everything sinks with us.

In order to keep us from sinking we have to take time out for ourselves or stop, dock up and take note of what is causing us to sink and prioritise that. For me, personally, it's if I haven’t had a moment to myself. When this happens, I make sure to organise a coffee or drink date with a friend, run a hot bubble bath and take an hour for me or just simply ask for help.

For years I thought asking for help was a sign of weakness, and as mothers we seem to think we need to be this strong, independent and have all the plates spinning at the same time. But the truth is, we can still be all those things while asking for help and taking some time out to de stress and carry on.

How can you meet the needs of others, if you can’t meet your own? It's not selfish or wrong, it's essential and it's something that I have slowly learnt over the years since becoming a mother. I was someone before I was their mother, and that someone matters.'

Author credit: Natasha Dowling