As I draft this post I am sitting in a bath with white fluffy bubbles up to my ears and a revitalising peel off mask painted over my face. I have a scented candle burning, my latest read waiting for me to get stuck into on the shelf next to me and all that’s missing is a nice glass of wine. What’s the big deal, you might be thinking? Well, it’s 5pm and as every parent out there knows, mamas don’t get to take a relaxing bath at 5pm. This time of day is usually reserved for complete and utter chaos, it’s the beginning of the witching hour(s) and you normally feel stress simmering throughout the house as the kids begin to feel tired and grumpy and hanger is in full swing as you stand by the oven desperately willing the kids food to be ready. Ain’t no time for bubbles and candles at 5pm on a regular Wednesday. This, however, my lovely readers, isn’t a regular Wednesday.
The catch 22 of me time when you are a parent
My kids have been away since Sunday evening, they’ve gone on an adventure to North Wales with their Dad (I don’t want to get into why I’m not there too, let’s just say it’s a ‘boys only’ affair *eye roll*) and they won’t be back until tomorrow evening. From Sunday until this morning I’ve been down near Reading visiting my sister and working in her shop, the business I work from home doing admin for. I’ve missed the kids terribly, we’ve only FaceTimed once because the signal is bad where they are staying and they don’t seem that interested in chatting to me on the phone if they can’t see me on the screen, they only want to talk to me that way because I can put silly filters on my face!
I digress, so, I’m home now. Alone. Completely alone. The cat is even staying with my parents so this is the most alone I have ever been in this house. In fact, this is the longest period of time I’ve ever spent away from my kids.
I’m enjoying not having to run around all day changing nappies, grabbing snacks, making beakers of squash and having to say ‘will you please eat your tea’ a gazillion times. The novelty is yet to wear off when I wake every morning just because I’ve had enough sleep, not to the usual cries from the toddler or from Leo appearing from what feels like thin air and standing less than an inch from my face, waking me with a start. The whole sleep thing, that bit I’m loving, that’s never getting old.
I was really busy at my sisters and although I missed the boys loads, I had work and conversation to distract me and stop me wallowing in the fact that they are off on holiday and I’m not there with them too. Now I’m at home though, everything feels too quiet and I don’t know how to fill the silence. I could listen to Spotify but I’m not sure what I’d listen to, all my playlists on there were created before kids came along and the only time I listen to music these days is when the boys make me put the Lego Batman soundtrack on Alexa or when the CBeebies CD is blaring in the car. I could watch the TV but what would I watch? Daytime viewing has been taken over by the boys, Alex is some kind of genius and knows how to change whatever I’m watching over to Mr Tumble (he does it all the time, I’d be mad if I didn’t think it was so amazing my just two year old can work the sky remote that so often leaves older relatives baffled). If I dare sit on the sofa after school and attempt to watch something then all sound will be masked by Leo’s whinging, ‘you’re not sharing Mummy!/I want my programmes on Mummy!’. In the evenings, Oli and I watch something we both like, usually a boxset, and now I have complete authority over the tv remote and I don’t even know what I would like to watch.
It’s weird, I often crave time to myself, I can give all I have to my family and leave myself burnt out and in need of a break and I spend hours thinking how and when I can find some time for myself. So many stay at home mums feels the same, they love being with their kids all day but never having a moment to do something for you can quickly take its toll and can leave your mental wellbeing precariously teetering on the edge if you’re not careful. I’ve been given that longed for break and whilst I’m enjoying my me time, I’m missing my little family. I miss my boys.
We can’t win as parents, we want a break from our parental responsibilities and when we are given that break, we spend the majority of that small slither of time missing the kids and wondering how they are. I could ask a friend over but they all have kids and spontaneity is rarer than managing to drink a coffee while it’s still hot when you’re a parent. Anyway, like I said, 5pm is manic for us parents and I’m sure the last thing my friends need is me popping up on their phone screen asking them to come over, I mean, they have tiny humans and will be exhausted like I normally am come 8pm when the kids are finally asleep (hopefully).
The evening stretches out in front of me with no plans and while it feels liberating, it also feels incredibly strange. I can eat when I want, I will only have to wash up one plate instead of four, I won’t have to get on my hands and knees and clean the floor beneath the high chair. When 7 o clocks comes I won’t be trying to coax two little boys away from the tv and into the bath and I won’t be flopping down next to my husband on the sofa once we have both managed to get them tucked up and sleepy into their beds.
It’s Halloween, I guess I could curl up with a blanket and watch a horror film, then again, I’m not crazy! I won’t watch a horror film even if the house was full of people! I suppose I need to just go with the flow, see where the evening takes me, enjoy my last evening of peace before normality resumes tomorrow and my boys are home, hopefully as happy to see me as I know I will be to see them.
Me time as a parent is a funny old thing. We want it and when we finally get it we sort of wish it could hurry up and be over because the lives of the little people we have created have became so intrinsically entwined with our own that once we’ve been unravelled from each other, we can’t really remember how we used to pass the time without them.
I stand by what I have said hundreds of times on this blog, self care and me time is essential to your mental wellbeing as a parent and you should never feel guilty for taking it. Perhaps, four days to yourself may be a bit much though? It definitely has been for me. Hurry up tomorrow evening, my babies are coming home and this mama bear wants a big cuddle with her two little cubs!
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