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Time For Me - by Sam Murray

Time For Me - by Sam Murray

Sam Murray is Vitality's Performance Champion. She is an Olympic Medalist and World Champion in Modern Pentathlon. She took home a Silver Medal during the 2012 Olympics and is a huge champion of female sport and empowerment…and 9 months ago, she became a mum!

In this blog, Sam talks about the challenges of becoming a new mum and finding that all important headspace and ’Time For Me’.

It’s bitter cold outside, the socks, the mittens, a hat and a thick coat is necessary at every outing. The wriggling rugby style tackle to put all of this on is really not appreciated but I suppose all part of the fun. There’s been some difficult, long days through 2021, my first year of motherhood. Yet, somehow, as the close of the year approaches, I find myself saying: “It just flies by…”

That’s the tricky bit about time in general, there seems so much of it, but really, when plans are set in motion, meetings,  deadlines, events and the ridged schedule of a baby, we just don’t have enough of it. 

The thought of ‘time for me’ does make me chuckle a bit, this is what I’ve lost,  or given up for a while it seems with the early years of being a Mum. I’m finding ways though to weave some personal time into my life. It is a juggle but so important for my energy and mental health. 

A trip to the hairdressers when they opened back up this year was the first outing without Elodie. She was around 3 months old. It felt strange leaving with house without the bags, pram, bottles, toys… but mostly it felt as though I’d left a part of me in the house.

It felt bare and wrong at first. And, of course, I felt guilty. 

My husband survived (just) on his own for the few hours but more importantly so did Elodie. I gradually built in a few trips to the supermarket and some nice treats such as having my nails done and a facial on my birthday. Each time, the break left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to step back into being ‘Mum’ once home. 

The biggest challenge and choice this year has been regarding childcare and going back to work. Admittedly, I didn’t really look into the cost of nursery, childminders and nannies until after Elodie was born. It was a shock and a difficult choice to consider. How will I make this work? What is most important? How can I find balance? If I take a career break, will I ever be able to get back to work in the future? The benefit of childcare is that I could enjoy time for me in a professional capacity and it would be healthy for Elodie to spend time playing with other children. However, being a Mum is so important to me and what I value the most in my life.

We started nursery when Elodie was 9 months old. She took to it really well. I’d had sleepless nights worrying about her crying inconsolably as I’d heard such experiences from other Mums. It seemed though as she enjoyed it, now a couple of months in, she claps as we approach the door.  For me though, I felt heartbroken and sore with emotional pain. It felt wrong to be a part from my baby. I knew from this just a couple of days a week was all my heart could take at this age. 

I fell quite ill recently and spent a few nights on an antibiotic, steroid and fluid drip in hospital. It was horrific and a true life low moment. I had burnt out. Exhaustion. Nothing left to give. My body was broken and immune system so low. The pause in hospital allowed (or forced) me to stay in bed, rest and just have time to myself. I was treated so well by caring nurses and doctors.

The experience made me evaluate how I could be a Mum, work and find moments for my wellbeing.

By falling sick, there was no one available to care for Elodie. My husband took time off work. I realised that I need to stay healthy otherwise my family suffers. Returning from hospital, the house was a total disaster zone but my baby was okay. 

Since then, I have swallowed the guilt and accepted that the bank balance will look a bit depleted until my children start school. I work for my professional development on a part-time basis.

 I have committed to non negotiable ‘me time’ at the gym on a Monday and a Friday and I make the most of the little moments.

By this, I mean, as I push the pram along the river path, I will enjoy the scenery and take some deep inhales and exhales, I’ve added in a cup of mint tea to help me relax before bedtime (and the 11PM feed) and I’ve started to turn my phone off during dinner time for an hour. 

It’s not much but the value of accumulation cannot be underestimated here. By finding just 10 minutes each day, making the gym a couple of times per week and ensuring that I switch off; this amounts to time that I have invested in myself, consistently and organised around busy Mum life. It means a lot and it’s how, right now, I find some ‘time for me’

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