As I dish up the dinner I start with my children, then my husband, only putting food on my plate if there is anything left. 

When filling my diary with dates, it is first appointments for the children, then things my husband needs support with or errands he needs doing, and only then do I see if there is space for anything related to myself. 

There’s always something to keep me busy: never ending laundry, housework, school related things to attend, forms to fill in and medical things to chase. My hair rarely gets cut, my nails are never manicured and my hobbies include doing a grocery shop or tidying up toys. 

Then one day the house was clean (enough), the washing basket was empty (for five seconds!) and the children were both at school. 

‘Help’, I thought, ‘I’m alone what do I do?’

I thought of a few of the things I once enjoyed like bubble baths, reading a book, walking along the beach, swimming and even meeting friends. Since I had no idea what authors I even used to like, where the bubble bath was (well excluding Peppa Pig or other child related ones) or who my friends were, I decided to take myself for a swim. 

Now let me explain something here; the years have not been kind to me. A stressful lifestyle of caring for two children with complex needs, a husband with autism, way too many takeaways and giving birth to twins have meant my body is more like ‘mummy pig’ than ‘yummy mummy’, but we all have to start somewhere right? 

So I spent an hour with myself in a pool of water, and found not only was it good for my body, it was uplifting for my soul too! 

I need to stop seeing myself as the bottom of the ladder, the one who only gets the leftover dinner, or leftover time. 

I spent time with myself and realised I was much more worthy than I thought I was. 

So now, once a week, I schedule time with myself. I take myself on a date to the pool or the gym because while my children need me, my husband needs me, my house needs me, the medics and teachers and social worker need me, I also need myself. I need my body strengthened and my mind healthy, I need my freedom and I need confidence. All those things come when I see myself as valuable enough to spend time with myself. 

It takes organisation. It takes sacrifice and financial cost for carers, it takes courage and determination and a huge amount of planning to get that one hour a week, but if I would make that effort for my children, if I would make that possible for my husband, then I need to see myself just as important. 

I don’t say ‘help, I’m alone, what do I do?’ now. Instead, I have my bag ready and I look forward to swimming those lengths or counting the miles on the treadmill. I enjoy my children’s company greatly, but I love that time with myself just as much. 

I’m actually good company, even if I say so myself! 

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