This week I attended the penultimate session of a course I’ve been attending run by CAMHS.
The course has been great, not just in making me look at things a little differently, and learning about some of the ‘whys’ of Mini’s behaviour, but also because I’ve met some lovely people who are all local and are all experiencing similar issues with their adopted children. I really hope we can keep in touch, and we’ve already spoken about meeting up in a few months to reflect. In fact we’ve spoken about keeping our Thursday sessions going, but in the pub, and pretending to our babysitters that the course is continuing!
This session was about ‘Time for us’. There were uncomfortable shifts in seats and eyes dipped to the floor as we were asked to brainstorm and think about the things we do for ourselves, and the amount of time we make for our own interests and relaxation.
Hmm. Well there’s….um, actually…..um…
To be honest, I didn’t become a mum to have loads of nights out, hobbies and interests. We both had hobbies, and enjoyed going out, but we knew that becoming parents would mean sacrifices and we were happy to accept those changes to our lifestyle. We’ve adapted and we do still have hobbies, but they take second place after the children. And we’ve developed new hobbies as a family.
I spend my days crafting, drawing, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Zog and A Squash and a Squeeze 25 times each, watching Peppa Pig, shaking plastic instruments and playing with my 2 year old. I also spend it changing nappies, retrieving a climber of a child from various unsuitable places, clearing up splattered yoghurt and cooking evening meals that at least one person will normally object to!
Sounds fun and easy right? Yes, I love it, and I am very lucky that I don’t have to work (although it would make life much easier if I did). However, entertaining a 2 year old for 8 hours is tiring, and then entertaining an angry, aggressive, tired 5 year old AND a 2 year old for another 4 hours is exhausting!
I also do odd bits of housework during the day...Dollop helps with wiping up, I push the hoover around, I get the laundry done. But because I spend my days mostly looking after and playing with my kids, it means I try to do most of the housework in the evenings. More often than not, I’m so shattered by the evening that I crash out on the sofa, wishing I had the motivation to get up and clean. Because actually it’s not very relaxing sitting there when you can see a thick layer of dust on the mantelpiece, and it's not very relaxing seeing a mountain of ironing waiting to be done, nor is it relaxing laying in the bath staring up at a ceiling that needs a lick of paint.
So time for me? No, I’m afraid not. There is too much that needs doing at home. There just isn’t any time in which I can slot a massage, a manicure, haircut or a dance class, or even a bit of zumba!
No that’s not strictly true, I’m very lucky that my best friend lives a 2 minute drive away, and I get to hers most Tuesday evenings for several cups of finest Betty’s tea, and a good natter. I always get home too late and am always shattered the next day, but that natter (and a few hours away from the house) is always worth it!
But really, I don’t spend much time on my own, or with my friends, and neither does the NC because we’re just so shattered to do so. However, during this week’s session, the importance of time for us was really hammered home, and I’ll admit that the NC and I need to address it.
So, I’m proposing ‘date night’. I know that I still wouldn’t want to leave Mini or Dollop with a babysitter even if they’re asleep, so it’ll be a home based date…but we can dress up nicely, eat good food, drink good wine (or most likely gin) and catch a movie or just talk – like we used to. We’ll forget chores, paperwork and the dusting for one night a week, and just enjoy being us again. (And as my best friend told me - the dust is good...it's somewhere for Mini to practise his writing!) Happier parents will hopefully mean happier children.
What do you do to relax? Do you get time to yourself?