Sometimes I feel incredibly blessed and lucky, like I’m in heaven. It happens when Nicholas is slowly drifting off to sleep, sleep sucking nursing. Children are so angelic when they sleep! When he laughs that big belly giggle there just isn’t anything on the planet that’s more amazing and special. This is true joy.
At other times, when he is tired, AND we have tried three times now to go to sleep AND he just isn’t interested, AND he is kicking his little legs and arms in frustration, AND I just have this strong desire to complete one task (I just want to feed the dogs! AND none of the can openers are working!) then I really feel like this is hell. I feel like crying with him. But eventually we get it right. He does succumb to sleep and I get the chance to do what I wanted. It also sucks when he is wide awake at 4 am in the morning. But we power through it, through the lack of sleep and the mauled boobies as I try and settle him.
Most of the time we exist in a happy medium. I can type this while he contentedly pushes his truck around. He is mostly a happy boy.
But one thing I am very aware of is that I get very cranky if I haven’t had time to do what I need to do. That is why all moms desperately need “me-time”, time to do things that give them satisfaction and meet their needs. That’s another tip I picked up from that “Discipline without Distress” book – it is parents that need time out more than the kids.
So, without further ado, here is my list of ways I have been creating time for myself with my 15 month old.
1. Eat when he eats. I remember one day being just so desperate to sit down and eat my Sunday lunch. Then it occurred to me: pop him in his high chair and give him some of my food to play with. Even if he throws most of it at the dog, he will be occupied and I would get a chance to eat. Now we have pretty much evolved into a pattern of eating together, although it doesn’t always work like that depending on when he naps. As long as he is busy, even if I give him a rattle to play with, it helps.
2. Let him watch me bath or shower, or even do it together. For me, it is such a luxury to sink down and relax in a bath. Now that Nicky is older it isn’t such a stress to have someone watch him while I do this. Indeed he likes to stand and laugh at me. I give him bubbles to play with. He takes off his socks and throws them at me. I guess that is ok if it keeps him busy! I will often line up his bath toys so he can throw them all in. Yes, it will be a quick dip, but this is definitely an improvement on the early days when there hardly was time for this.
3. Internet / reading time while he plays. I think I would probably go mad without the Internet. Being at home all day, it is my link to the outside world. (So is my phone and my mom’s whatsapp group!). I also am passionate about reading books (you can tell by all the book reviews on this blog!) so I need time for that as well. Nicholas is mostly happy to get on crawling around and investigating the world while I am busy on my IPad. He doesn’t like it much when I sit at the PC. If I really need to do something at the PC I need to put him on my lap and give him something on my desk to play with to distract him from the mouse with the interesting light. I would grab a small plastic truck or a flower pen that has run out but fascinating to feel.
4. Rope in support. This is where you say to Dear Hubby: “Your turn!” so you can cook a meal or spend time doing computer stuff. If you’re lucky enough to have close relatives you can get them to baby sit while you have a date night. If you live in South Africa like me you should have a maid so you can dash to the doctor, the dentist or the shops. I generally do take Nicky with me when I shop, but it’s so nice to have that option to leave him behind when I need to. Don’t try to do this all on your own: you will burn out. Have the guts to ask for help.
5. You will probably think I’m nuts but on a week day I have found it much easier to cook the evening meal first thing in the morning. This is when Nicky is still in a good mood and can occupy himself while I get it done. If he is not in a good mood and I get interrupted a million times, at least I still have the whole day to get it done. Sometimes the food is extra well cooked because I’ve had to calm him down so many times (with the “magic boob” of course) but at the end of the day I don’t have to worry about the evening rush when he is extra cranky and just wants supper, bath and bed. And lots of attention!
6. Nap time is of course “me-time”, but of course you knew that already. For me it’s less “me-time” than work time, so it doesn’t count as much, unless I don’t have work that day. It is the built in reward for an exhausted parent. Remember: no matter how far they have pushed you, they will eventually collapse and need sleep. It’s nature calling, and it will happen. So for every time they are driving you nuts just remember they are also saying: “Just wait a bit and I will fall asleep, then you can have lots of “me-time”!”
I’d be interested to hear from my readers how you guys create time for yourselves when looking after your children.