Carving out some me-time
Its’s a Tuesday morning, I’m on my way to work and running through my plan for the week…
My two boys are with their childminder for the next three days (mental note to pay the childcare bill when I log on at work), luckily their homework is done (3 snow days last week) including the half term project of making a model of an allotment (mental note to test him on spellings tonight at dinner (another mental note – What’s for dinner?)) the bedding’s in the machine today, (mental note to hang it on the airers tonight), my husband asked me to sew a hole in his work trousers (mental note to work out when I’ll have time)….the plans and lists carry on until I’m heading into the reception of my office – ready to start my three day week. Right, so what deadlines have I got this week? Oh and it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, we’re hosting a family meal with both my mum and my mother-in-law (mental note to defrost the meat & remind my sister to buy a dessert)
Sound exhausting? Or just your normal week? I feel like I normally operate quite well at this level. There’s a lot going on but I’m on top of it all. Ever so often, it suddenly feels overwhelming. Even though nothing has triggered it; the day to day, week to week ‘superwoman’ routine is too much to maintain long term. I need a break!
Isn’t it horrible to reach that point, when you stop because your body makes you? Wouldn’t it be nice to give yourself a break, a bit of self-care before you hit overwhelm?
While I certainly dont have the answer, I’m looking into ways to help myself and thought it might help you too. Let me know what works for you in the comments. In the meantime, here’s the ideas I’ve had so far.
Ok, let’s get this one out the way! Of course I’m going to say crafting! Having a relaxed evening making a card or a scrapbook page is a lovely way to unwind – it’s less effective for me now that I’ve changed my hobby into a business. There are different energy levels (I’m not talking about aerobic-stamping! ) as you may be feeling inspired to rummage through your craft box and create a new design or you just need to switch off and tackle the next colour on your cross-stitch pattern. Can you see the difference? No decisions required, just follow the instructions and relax.
My cardmaking kits give you that option in card form….just saying!
Join a local class
This could be learning a new craft or mastering the perfect curry. Local Adult education centres run a wide range of classes. Be careful not to over-commit – a year long course to learn Spanish might just end up being a burden. But a short 6 week course gives you a set time to be out of the house and focus on something that’s just for you (unless you’re bringing home a gorgeous curry every week) There’s a rise of independent classes too – I’ve seen lots of modern calligraphy classes nearby and I’ve been asked to host a cardmaking workshop in London in the summer. It’s a new venture, but they’re planning on offering coffee mornings and evening workshops for mums to learn a range of crafts. (more details coming soon)
Oh a classic! From a weekend away at a luxury spa with no WIFI (could you cope?!?) to a 30 minute soak in the tub without any toy boats. It time to unwind and let your cares soak away. Have you seen the new bath boards? Room for your iPad, a glass of wine and a candle or two. This one is made by Bath Boards in Darlington (and the gorgeous photograph is curtesy of @sophie__runs)
Have a Crafternoon or even a Crafturday
Get together with friends, take over someone’s dining table and let the hours fly by. Tea, cakes or wine help the creative process along nicely.
Personally, I find that with a large group of friends – meeting for a meal or just catching up on someone’s sofa quite awkward. I find the pressure of a group discussion difficult. I do still enjoy myself, especially with close friends, but I constantly feel like I should be contributing more and worry I look like I’m being distant or possibly rude.
However, when there’s a craft involved (or even some other activity, like a pub quiz) then the chatter takes on a new, slower pace. There are pauses and discussions about colours (or state capitals) and ‘can I borrow the …..?’ Those pauses give me time to find my voice and we generally end up having a very open, frank discussion. Partially focusing on the task in hand helps me keep calm and if everyone else is busy while I tell my story – there’s no ‘all eyes on me’ panic that normally makes me wrap up my tale sharpish.
Go for a walk
A change of scenery can do you a world of good, or even just a change in pace. So instead of dashing off to do the school pick up how about planning to leave earlier and taking a slower, perhaps more scenic route to the school gates. We’ve recently moved house and I now have the beautiful Footscray Meadows on my doorstep – I’m still exploring it but I think I’ve only done one walk alone. Come September, when my youngest starts the school nursery – I hope to be taking advantage of strolling to school.
Pot of tea for one in a local café
If the weather’s no good for a stroll then how about a relaxing break in a local café – take a book or maybe some doodling and just be in the moment. You could even write your Morning Pages (even if it’s not morning!) – I first discovered this practice during a course run by Joanna Martin – she explains all here. You’ll be feeling restored and motivated in no time.
24hr parenting freedom
Now, this I haven’t done but my husband and I have discussed it. A couple we know, often treat each other to 24hrs off duty – so from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime – they are out of the house and off-duty. They make whatever plans they wish, book a hotel, sleep in, visit a friend or read a book in the cosy corner of the pub. It sounds idyllic but I am hesitant of having a weekend on my own with kids….it would be a long week!
What will you do?
So, do any of those ideas jump out at you? Will you be giving them a go? Even if you don’t feel overwhelmed right now, plan in some time in the diary for the future – who knows, you might need it! You can always cancel it nearer the time (but I’m guessing you won’t want to)
Don’t wait until you need it, getting something organised at that point becomes stressful and you feel like you’re asking for favours (something else to feel guilty about).