Don't feel pressured and don't be rushed to do it before you feel ready.
My bag is packed and the coach pulls up. I kiss them both goodbye and I see the questioning look on his face; "Mumma?"
This is heartbreak. This is what leaving your baby for the first time feels like.
I've written articles in the past that stress the importance of having time for yourself as a mother and I totally stand by them – time to have a bath, time to have a peaceful coffee and time for a night out is so important, but I have to be honest and say that I'm not totally one for practicing what I preach.
Since Joseph was born 18 months ago, there have barely been a few hours in which we haven't been together.
In the newborn days when I was breastfeeding on demand, there were a couple of occasions where Fergus looked at me – unwashed, totally zapped and emotionally drained and would take Joseph down the road for a coffee so I could have that an hour respite to shower and drink a hot tea, but I guess I just got used to functioning on that little "me" time.
To be honest, I've never felt I really needed it. Not that it wasn't offered; Fergus would constantly say "you need a break" or "you need to go out by yourself", but it never really crossed my mind as something I needed.
At first, it felt self-indulgent to want any time to myself and soon it just became second nature to do everything with Joseph down to weeing, showering and making cups of tea (often one-handed).
Sure there have been days, especially during this monster toddler age, where I long for a break and a bit of peace from the demands of a not-even-two-year-old. But they pass and I've found myself pushing through most of the hard times with a cuddle from Fergus once he's home, a nice dinner cooked for by him and a bath once Joseph has gone to bed.
Being a mother 24/7 is hard; it's the hardest thing I've ever done, but I can't help but feel that this is the role I signed up for. I signed up to be a parent full-time and so for me, taking a step back and allowing someone else to fill my shoes feels totally alien and against nature.
Joseph wasn't a planned baby; he was our wonderfully happy accident that I've spent every day thanking my lucky stars for. However, when I was pregnant and still so unsure, I was so convinced that I would long for those times I had before I was pregnant, where I was alone and had no responsibility.
But for me, having Joseph has become my full sense of purpose and my favourite "hobby" if you like; no time spent at yoga or coffee shops could replace the feeling of seeing him learn a new word or see the wonder in his face when he sees something for the first time.
I guess what I'm trying to say is although wanting and needing a break is fine, not wanting one is equally okay too. It is important to push yourself, despite how difficult it may be. However, so many mums burn out (myself included on occasions) from not finding that balance.
Leaving Joseph for the weekend has been my hardest challenge since giving birth, but I can't help but feel it's something that had to happen for the good of both our independence and so I'm slowly trying to come to terms with us being apart.
All I would say to anyone out there who's nervous about leaving your baby is: don't feel pressured and don't be rushed to do it before you feel ready. Being a mother is all about balance and while "me time" is important, it comes in so many different forms to different people.
Balance for one person might be going out every Friday night with their friends, or it might be going to a spa once a month. It might even be that one coffee-break a day.
Whichever way you find that balance, be aware and know that you can always trust your instincts as a mother and you will know when the time is right.
Every pregnancy is incredible in its own way. However, I would be lying if I said that seeing those two little lines while my 7-month-old sat screaming at my feet, didn't induce more than just the usual first-trimester nausea. If you are currently frantically Googling, I can reassure you this, you have got this Mumma.
I get where you're coming from but I can't help but feel that this article subtly shames those who have had a harder time with motherhood.
You have a supportive partner and by your own admission in previous articles you have not dealt with issues such as postnatal depression.
You have had a comparatively easy time so it is a little demeaning to say "It is important to push yourself, despite how difficult it may be" when you have no personal experience of how tough mothering really can be.
It is great that you've been able to spend 18 months as a 24/7, but most mothers don't have this luxury and most already beat themselves up needlessly because they can't reach this supermum ideal.
When writing articles, please consider how it comes across to the millions of mothers who either don't have support or are facing hardships that you can only try to imagine. And be grateful that your road has been so smooth instead of subtly preaching.
I apologise if this comment sounds critical, but I've been making an effort to reach out to the majority of mothers who already feel like they're failing.
Wow. Shaming? Subtly preaching?
Just because I haven't had post natal depression doesn't mean I've had an easy ride being a mother.. There are hundreds of women who dont have classified PND and still struggle? I think to suggest otherwise is in itself is "shaming".. Suggesting that I should feel guilty for not having had it and therefore shouldn't even attempt to give advice about anything.
I struggled with breastfeeding for months and fed through bleeding nipples and mastitis and couldn't leave the house, I've moved house twice with a young baby and now am supporting my partner through education meaning we have no income. Who are you to call my life easy? How dare you suggest I have no idea of how hard mothering can be?
Some women including myself, do find leaving their child with someone else hard. It has given me such anxiety that it's mean I haven't seen friends or had a real break in 18 months - I'm saying in this article that all women deserve a break, but if you feel anxious about it that it's normal. I went for so long not just worrying about leaving but worrying I was abnormal for not wanting to leave when everyone was telling me I should be.
I think your comment "if you sound critical" is laughable when that's obviously been your intention and to say you've been reaching out to women who are struggling - if people have good days does that mean you shame them for that too? Seems like unless people think and feel as you do then there in the wrong and being positive about our struggles is frowned upon.
The last thing I would ever do is shame mothers and I really do see how this article does anything of the sort. I suggest you stop reading my articles if they cause this much offence.
And another thing - I'm not describing being with my son 24/7 as ideal, that's the whole point.. I'm saying its important to have a break but also if you don't want to that's okay too.. You shouldn't feeling pressured to do either thing - your the one shaming me for not leaving my son saying I'm trying to be "super mum" - did I ever comment on your article and shame you for leaving your child 4 times a week? No. because that's what I'm saying - its no ones place to push you to go out or stay in like I felt I was and both are fine. Balance and me time differs for each person.