Emma Hollingworth: Why mothers need their day of rest...

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Mothers’ Day is only round the corner and I know I for one will be taking a well-deserved rest.

For weeks this date on our family calendar has had “Mummy’s day off” written in bold, capital letters under my name. Whether anyone has paid a blind bit of notice to this or not I have yet to see. I am sure the other half would argue that every weekend and the two days a week I don’t work is mummy’s time off.

However, the reality is you never entirely switch off. You’re either feeding the children, washing them, playing with them or generally having to tidy up after them.

Other skills include being a peace negotiator making sure World War Three doesn’t break out – not to mention having to ferry them here there and everywhere as part of the voluntary taxi driving service. I don’t remember any of this being on the contract when I first signed up to motherhood. Maybe it was in the small print somewhere…

A few friends of mine are just about to have their first babies.

They are in that lovely, innocent part of motherhood – full of excitement and happiness. All the baby gear is bought. Tiny clothes are hanging up in freshly painted wardrobes and cribs are fully made up, lying idly by waiting for a small parcel to be delivered into the folds of their soft, welcoming blankets.

None of them has a clue what is about to hit them. What seems a nice, relaxing time in the run-up to the birth will soon be shattered when their new babies arrive on the scene. Nothing quite prepares you for this.

I remember religiously reading all the books about the changes that were happening to our unborn baby, but only giving a cursory glance at the part about the actual labour.

That was something which seemed alien to me. Although I had attended all the ante-natal classes and even made the other half do an active birth workshop – much to his horror – it never really sunk in how the baby had to enter the world.

I firmly believed there was no reason why you couldn’t just breathe your way through it and then be straight back to my normal self within hours.

It never occurred to me that it would take hours to deliver. The first signs of labour could be days away from the baby actually arriving. And although the pain is like nothing you have ever experienced before, it can and does get worse as labour progresses. Even with an epidural there is pain. And the days that follow your body feels really weird without the hard body of the baby to hold you up.

But despite all this you start missing your baby bump. Then as your offspring grows up – which always happens much, much quicker than you imagine – you start having bump envy of every other pregnant lady you see. The only way to “cure” this is to have another baby.

But several babies down the road I can now safely say I don’t feel that bump envy anymore. I am really pleased for the ladies I know who are having their little ones, but I know I don’t want to go back there. Despite this I did have the odd pang or two when I hunted out my newborn baby wear for my friend when I saw the little clothes again.

The other part of motherhood that you aren’t aware of until the offspring arrives is the fact that not only will your house be inundated with your own brood, but more often than not there are at least one or two other children, who have just dropped round to have tea or “play out” with your kids.

When I was young I would always be round my friend’s just as it was hitting teatime. Her mother would feel sorry for me stuck in her daughter’s bedroom waiting for her child to eat up so she started making me a regular tea too.

I am sure there are other people out there who do even more, going out of their way to look after other people’s children and often they don’t even realise there is support and guidance out there to help them.

If you have been looking after someone else’s child for more than 28 days you may be doing something called private fostering.

Parents and carers are required by law to inform the council if they have a private fostering arrangement in place. Visit Sheffield City Council’s website onwww.sheffield.gov.uk/caresupport/childfam/fostering/privatefostering.html