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The Mama Dilemma: How to Prioritise Yourself When Everyone Wants a Piece of You

Updated: Feb 18, 2023

What do sunny days and clear blue skies make you think of? Well, it was a sunny day with clear blue skies. Sounds like a perfect summer day, doesn’t it? Well, I was simmering. It was 31°C. Tempers were rising.

Family Bike Rides Are Not Like in the "Sound Of Music"

My husband had just finished a gruelling five days as the on-call doctor for surgery. Patient admissions were up and staff numbers were down. His workload had tripled with two of his surgical team members in COVID-related self-isolation. So, when he woke up the next day with a headache, I wasn’t surprised. He was tired and sleep-deprived.

We had planned a family bike ride together. Understandably, he needed time to recover. So, I headed out on that ‘sunny day with clear blue skies’ for a bike ride… with my seven- and four-year-old daughters. As anyone who’s been on a family bike ride in a city like Sydney will attest, it’s nothing like the scene from the Sounds of Music. You know the one where Maria (played by Julie Andrews) is bike-riding with seven children under the age of sixteen, all singing along to Do-Re-Mi? Here’s a YouTube visual thanks to FandangoNOW

Well, our bike outing was nothing like this. That’s because we were wearing helmets, navigating uneven, narrow footpaths, with barely the shade of a tree in sight. Oh, and with me yelling commands like “Slow down!”, “Speed up!’ and ‘Ring your bell!’, my troop of two was sweating from more than just the heat of the sun. You get the drift. It wasn’t the scene from a sing-along.

The Sound of Mama

Anyway, we arrived home one dose of the daily recommended physical activity for kids later. Thankfully, my husband was in the sweltering hot kitchen, preparing yummy burgers for lunch. Although hot, I wouldn’t be hangry(hungry+angry) for much longer. On the other hand, he was feeling the heat in the kitchen on top of the 31°C outdoors. We greeted each other with a simmer instead of a smile. Yes, temperatures were rising.

Overheated and exhausted due to the “commanding” bike ride, the kids stripped off, showered, and sat down to lunch. Soon, feeling cool and with bellies full, they were re-energised and requesting my attention. It was back to the echoing sounds of mama-this and mama-that. Now out of the kitchen and cooling down, my husband was also happier. On the other hand, I was less hot but not yet in relaxed mode. One hour of “saving” your precious family’s life while navigating city roads in the heat will do that to you.

A Scent of Sanity and a Sense of Myself Again

After the aromatherapy of shower gel and the muscle-relaxing power of a warm shower, I felt nearly but not quite like myself again. As I sat down to eat, the last grips of hunger let go, and I stepped closer to being me. My family also felt closer to me. And even as I took the second bite of my burger, their requests for attention were flooding in. My 4-year-old “Mama look at this…” interrupting my 7-year-old’s “Mama I was reading this book and…”, superseded by my husband’s “Honey, can I show you ….”.

My temper rose despite the cooler room temperature. “Oh my gosh”, I said, “everyone wants a piece of me. I just need some time to myself!”

And just like that, the answer to my pleasant dilemma came to me. I looked at my loving family and asked, “What do you do when everyone wants a piece of you?” Without waiting for a response, I replied, “Stop. And give yourself the first piece”. “That rhymes!” said my 7-year-old, the bookworm. We all broke into smiles, and soon we were chanting, “What do you do when everyone wants a piece of you?”

By the time I had cleared up the lunch dishes, my 4-year-old was reminding me, “Mama, remember you need to take the first piece for yourself”. I gladly did. I gave myself two hours of me-time and came back feeling like myself again.

So, next time your loving family of fans are requesting a little more than you can give – Stop. And give yourself the first piece so that you feel like yourself again.

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