Here in the UK we have just gained an hour. A whole hour of time, but what does that really mean? Well the children still get up at the same time their body clock always tells them to except it’s an hour earlier. We have a whole extra hour in which to entertain the children, joy! The evenings get darker earlier, and when I mean earlier I mean from 2pm in the afternoon on a dull grey day can seem like dusk. And in the height of winter in December it’s dark by 3.30pm. That’s a whole 4 hours to kill in the dark with children whilst waiting for bedtime. Because if you fool them into think it’s bedtime and go to bed early then you’re guaranteed that they will wake all the more earlier and defeat the object of them having an early night as it always equals an early morning!
I don’t think I get seasonal affective disorder, but I am certainly affected by the clock change and the early dark nights. I think it didn’t exactly make my journey into motherhood easy as I had my daughter in the October so really felt those darker afternoons. I remember thinking what to do at those times of the afternoon, I would head to the shopping mall or a local 24/7 supermarket which had a cafe and while away the time in a lit busy environment. I didn’t learn from this, as I then, two years later had my second daughter at the same time of year. This time I didn’t go out as much, as logistically I found it too difficult.
So today I got to thinking, if someone gave you a child free hour what would you do with it?
Would you run round the house tidying up? Would you run yourself a bath? Have a manicure? sort out that cupboard? Sleep? Read? Have a hot cup of tea? Go food shopping? Go clothes shopping… For yourself?! I’ve had those rare occasions when I’ve been given that time from my husband, or a friend who has said go and do something for yourself. The elation I felt was totally joyful, wow I’m on my own without the children what should I do? Then confusion, what can I fit into that time? I’m thinking about it too much I’m wasting time. Quick do something! I found that I couldn’t think what to do and wanting to make the most of that time wanted to cram everything in from the above list into that 60minutes. Therefore feeling guilty that I didn’t make the most of that hour.
I have so much that I want to do for myself, tidy up areas of my house which make me feel unhappy and guilty I’ve not done it sooner; the toy cupboard, the wardrobe etc. I want that pamper time for me to indulge myself; manicure, washing and drying my hair. Sleep is a definite priority and depending on my mood or sleep deprivation or stress levels that often comes first.
I have that time , now that the children are growing up and at school, I have a precious 5 hours between drop off and pick up to do things for myself. That includes working and being me. And yet still I try and cram it full and feel guilty I’ve not ticked everything off my imaginary list. It has to be imaginary because if it was actually real and taped to my fridge then that would be even worse that it being in my head. Technically it’s still the same though, sitting there calling to me, telling me I’ve not done enough. Sometimes my logical mind will tell me that “I am enough, I have done one of those things therefore I have done enough”. Other times it will make me feel that I am inadequate and totally lower my mood.
It is not new to me or my personality or character that I am like this, my postnatal depression and anxiety haven’t made me like this. I have always been like this. I have always done too much, filled my diary and life with lots of things, never seeming to have enough time to just sit and do nothing. I have never known what it is like to not have anything to do. When I was younger I couldn’t fathom how people could not have the focus I had. But thinking about it was I filling my time and head with things to do so I didn’t give myself the time to think, otherwise I might have dwelled on experiences I would rather have not thought about.
The only thing pnd and anxiety have done is to highlight my own feelings of inadequacy more and make me feel unnecessary guilt. In time I know that I will overcome those feelings and embrace that “me time” more.
So, what did I do with my free hour of time this morning… I played solitaire on my iPad, in bed, because I could!