Making time for me time

I’ve just put BabyGirl down for her morning nap and have decided to use the time to catch up on my blog. It’s a tough call as there are so many things fighting for attention during this very short period in the day. I could whizz round and do some, now almost perfected, speed housework. Or perhaps I should take the time to cook up a few meals for BabyGirl, something I have been meaning to do for a while, or get a head start on lunch or dinner, or even try my hand at baking (one of my new year’s resolutions; it’s June and so far I’ve managed a batch of biscuits…)

No, today I have decided to forget all the practical household chores and do something just for me. It’s not often I have the luxury – or energy – to sit down and do some writing. It’s tough finding ‘me time’ as a mum, particularly if your little one naps like BabyGirl; that is for forty-five minutes, if I’m lucky. It’s amazing what you can achieve in under an hour but relaxing or giving some attention to a hobby more often than not gets overlooked.

Being a mum really is a full time job and I mean pretty much 24/7. You think you know this before you have your first child. You’ve seen friends with children, or watched enough television programmes and films showing family life, to realise that they take over completely. You are absolutely expecting to have your world turned upside down, to say goodbye to spontaneous nights out and weekends away, to wave farewell to blissful lie-ins on a Saturday – all of that and more you, of course, understand. However much you think you are prepared for this, though, nothing can match the reality. Having BabyGirl has filled up every little corner of our lives. What on earth did we used to do with ourselves before she was born? We have come to the conclusion that we must have simply wasted acres of time (sleeping, probably…).

I wouldn’t swap my new life for all the long lazy lunches or Saturdays spent pottering around in the world – although, there is a slight possibility I would loan it out for a proper, deep night’s sleep and a lay in! However, while I am perfectly content to ‘give up’ many of the aspects of a baby-free life, I do believe that it is hugely important that both D and I are able to find time for ourselves (and each other). My perspective on what constitutes ‘me time’ has radically changed, though! When sitting down for ten minutes at the end of the day while Daddy is bathing BabyGirl counts as relaxation, being a mum certainly makes you appreciate the simple pleasures in life. A lovely long, hot shower where I can clean myself top to toe – ooh, maybe even use my body scrub – is suddenly a real treat, as opposed to the five minutes I get to hop in when I have BabyGirl with me, brushing my teeth, washing my hair, soaping myself down all at once, while singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ at the top of my voice so BabyGirl can hear me in her cot. Popping into town without having to fight your way through the crowds with a buggy or wait ages for a lift is positively wonderful. Hell, I even class a trip to the supermarket on my own as a bit of a welcome breather. Well, to Waitrose that is. I’m not sure visiting Tesco can ever be anything other than torturous.

Whatever the activity, no matter how small, it’s about finding a little bit of time for me. One of the first things I reclaimed after BabyGirl was born was reading before bedtime. I have been a bookworm for as long as I can remember and I really missed my daily dose. With BabyGirl in our room, it wasn’t quite the same initially: struggling to read under the covers with a torch may have been fun as a child, but proved a tad frustrating as a tired mummy! But it gave me that window of escapism and allowed my brain to focus on something other than babies, which I relished. Another small pleasure I have recently rediscovered is swimming. An activity I always took for granted before BabyGirl arrived, I love my weekly fix. I find doing slow lengths up and down the pool, focusing on my strokes and the feel of the water, is almost meditative and really clears my mind. Plus I can sneak into the spa or sauna for five minutes at the end of my session, which feels luxurious.

The point is, I don’t think it matters what you do, as long as there is a small space in the week for you, even if you have to shoehorn it in. A friend recently emailed that she was enjoying sitting down with a frothy milk and a chocolate bar while her husband was on baby duty. It may not be very rock and roll but any ‘me time’ helps to recharge the batteries when you are most often running, or in my case crawling, around after a little one.

My blog is also just for me. I started it to flex my rusty writing muscles and do something creative. Now I have quit my job, I know that this blog will be a great outlet for the part of me that will miss the challenge of work. It will be a discipline to keep it up and to prioritise something frivolous when there are piles of practical tasks to deal with. Even this post has ended up being written over two naps – but it feels good to have got there.

Who knows, next nap time I may even try some baking…

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