I have spent an entire week trying to quantify all the things I want to do, ought to do, and even the things I do do. A whole week. Did it actually take 7 days to list them? No, it took about 3 hours – but it took me a whole week to amass 3 hours out of 36 five-minute nuggets of time snatched wherever I could find them. And I wonder why I have felt so chaotic and stressed for the past 6 months.
This made me realise (specialist subject the bleeding obvious) that if I can’t find more than a few minutes here and there to think through something I consider important and worth thinking about, then I probably am not getting much time to just let my brain sit in neutral for a while, or to go off road. And I need that – most days the only time I get completely uninterrupted to think, analyse, reflect comes after the children finally go to bed when I am completely used up and have nothing left of me for myself. As I type this the Black Dog is lying across my feet growling something about how most mothers would just be grateful their children go to bed at all.
On the basis that the Dog seems to like me exhausted I decided last week to give myself time off when I am at my most alert, creative, optomistic and ‘thinky’. For me, that’s the second half of the morning. How to do it is trickier though. We have one octogenarian grandparent between us who lives on the other side of the country and nobody else who seems inclined to offer free childcare (and why would they?). We can’t afford childcare and Baby-Walker is too young for free nursery places. But I have discovered that our local softplay centre charges less on weekday mornings and throws in lunch for free. For a fiver I now get two hours of less frequent interaction with the little fellow as he hurtles joyfully down slides and hurls himself up scramble nets. I sit with a journal and just write, or I take advantage of their free wifi and use my laptop. Sometimes I just read a book or a magazine. I say this like I do it all the time: actually, I can afford this one morning a week but what a relief that morning is. And what a surprise to realise how badly I have needed that head space and how simple and relatively inexpensive it has been to buy it.