I’ve spent several years trying to figure out where I can add a few hours into my day. We don’t usually have a lot of activities scheduled, and now that my son is finished with OT and PT, we don’t even have that to deal with. It just seems as if I always have a million things to do and not enough time to do it.
I did recently start having movie time with the kids several evenings a week. That helps. We don’t have cable or Netflix, so there’s no flipping through to see what’s on. When we have a movie, I plan on doing nothing else after supper. I clean up the kitchen, and we snuggle up and watch the DVD.
But that still leaves the daytime. I’m a self-employed single mom, so it’s easy to get caught up in, “I have to work constantly so we can eat and pay rent.” But that’s not very efficient. During the day, I’d rather be spending time with the kids. Bennett is learning to read and wants me to spend time with him doing that. Jeffrey never stops talking, trying to tell me all the things he’s learning, reading about his topic du jour. That makes it very hard to focus on anything else. Sometimes I do have to work on something while they’re awake, such as a job that came through Fiverr the other day, with a request to have it done before that evening. It came from a repeat client, and he doesn’t usually make such requests, so I was happy to help. But it meant I had to spend a couple hours working on that project in the middle of the morning.
I’ve found, though, that for the most part, if I’m trying to get anything done with the kids here and awake, I end up being very scattered and not actually getting anything done. I’m trying to just turn off the computer during the day. I’m getting better at it.
But where does this attitude come from in the first place? Why do we feel guilty if we don’t fill every second of the day with physical activity? Why are we not allowed to relax at all? I know women have this problem, but I’m not sure it’s only women. I know I wasn’t raised with this expectation. Our home was cluttered, but clean, my mom cooked mostly from scratch (back then), I never felt neglected, my parents had a great relationship, and yet, my mom spent a lot of time sitting around reading, knitting, or working jigsaw puzzles.
I don’t remember when I got caught up in this. I do know that my almost-ex-husband couldn’t stand to see me just sitting and doing nothing. I don’t know what he thought I was supposed to be doing when the house was clean, laundry was done, supper was over, and kitchen cleaned up, but whatever it was, it didn’t involve sitting down and reading or being on the computer. I was constantly feeling guilty whenever I’d sit down. I still haven’t moved past that, 18 months after leaving him. But honestly, I don’t remember if it started before him. Maybe not, because I wasn’t a mom before. Either way, it’s here now, and I need to deal with it.
I’m pretty sure it’s not just moms and housework (or at-home work). It’s all of us. It’s almost as if we’re afraid to admit to others that we have a chunk of unscheduled time. If you’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do so, think about the comments you got, things like, “Must be nice,” and “I wish I could just sit around doing nothing for a few hours (or days).” Why can’t they? Why can’t we?
I ran across a great blog post last week: A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy. If you have issues with busyness, to check it out.
I don’t really have an issue with overscheduling myself, but if you do, try this great tip from my friend Annie.
Years ago, when inundated with seemingly unending requests to help with PTA, altar guild, field trips, etc., I would intentionally scatter the word “NO” on my calendar to save margins of free time for the family and for myself. When asked to do something at those times, I could honestly say, “Sorry. My calendar says NO.”
It’s become a cliche, but it’s true. We are human beings, not human doings. Do you have trouble with being rather than doing? Have you found ways to let yourself relax with no guilt?