As a parent, when was the last time you had an entire day to yourself to do whatever your heart desired? I know, this sounds like the stuff of dreams when you’ve spent months if not years changing, feeding, washing, cleaning, playing, teaching and everything else that comes with parenthood! Those days of freedom before the kids came along feel like so long ago that you question if they even existed…
My sister-in-law sighed with contentment as she told us how she had enjoyed a slow, relaxing Sunday. Sharing how her day had gone, my husband couldn’t help but also share some of the things he would do in her position if he had the free time available. Well, that’s why I don’t have kids, she joked in response.
I’ve never really been the type of person to stop and feel the need to take a break from my life. More than ever, I always feel like I have something to do – mainly baby-related with a 16-month old daughter. Children demand so much of your time, and you get used to sacrificing that time for them because you know they need it. The reality is though, whether you acknowledge it or not, you also need time. If you are overdoing it, then your body will often tell you.
I experienced this recently when I had an episode where I fainted for the first time in my life. I was on my own at the time and conscious enough to feel myself fall (thankfully I didn’t hurt myself), but when Liam found out he was understandably concerned. I was relieved when all of the tests from the doctor came back fine and I was asked to monitor myself, but what was also appreciated was the time that I was given at home to just rest for the day.
After watching a film and taking a nap, I started to get an itch to get something productive done and it was still only the morning. This was the first time since my daughter arrived that I had been in a position where I had the luxury of a day for just me. It had been 16 months since I had given birth and I literally had to tell myself to relax! The concept of being at home but not carrying out those daily mum duties was alien to me. I started folding a pile of clean washing, before getting back into bed and trying my best to switch off.
As hard as it was initially to just relax, it was ultimately appreciated and most definitely needed! That was where the idea for a “Me Day” came from. Especially right now with the challenges of lockdown during COVID-19 and both me and my husband working from home, the strain was starting to take its toll on our peace of mind, even though you wouldn’t necessarily see it from looking at us. You may find ways to laugh and look on the lighter side of life and that’s great, but often there are times where rest is just needed both physically and mentally. You can keep going, but it will take it’s toll at some point because you’re only human!
I was reminded of this when Liam came and shared how he was having issues with headaches and feeling particularly tired. It was then that I shared my idea with him and offered him the chance to take a day for himself while I looked after Inaya. I told him that I appreciated the fact he had been working hard each day – continuing to work full-time, while also making sure he was available to look after our daughter when his work day was complete. From the issues he had shared previously, it was also clear that his body could do with the down-time. Of course he was happy to accept!
Soon the day arrived (we chose a bank holiday) and during the day Liam would joke about how he was “living the life”. When Inaya would go to him he would jokingly turn her back to me and say “I love you, but I’m not your daddy today!” I was more than happy to take over because I knew how much it would mean to him to finally have that time for himself while at home. We have both had time away individually for ourselves since Inaya was born, but never when we’re at home. Usually that’s the place where your parent hat flies back on as soon as you walk through the door, so it is a nice luxury to know you can have your own space at home should you decide to make it happen.
At the end of his day, Liam thanked me for the chance to have the time to himself. “So how often are we gonna do this?” He smiled. “Don’t worry, we’ll talk”, I said with smile of my own…
At the time of writing this, I have my “Me Day” booked in our calendar, so it will be my turn soon enough! I’m now looking forward to it and I know that it’s these little things that will help to keep a sense of balance no matter how manic family life may sometimes feel. After all, you came into the marriage as your own person. There are so many people in marriages who become confused about their identity other than the roles they hold as a spouse and parent. Yes those things are part of your identity, but there is also the ‘you’ that is separate from those roles. Who is that person, and when was the last time you checked in with him/her?
I’ll share more on this in a future post about rediscovering your identity in marriage, but for now I would encourage you to remember to take some time for you. Sometimes you might just have to make yourself relax as I did, because it’s so easy to get caught up in those life cycles. Eventually you will get tired, so before you do, allow yourself the chance to rest. Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it!
Why not plan your very own child-free “Me Day” to look forward to! Maybe you want to spend the day pampering yourself and take a long bath with a good book, or maybe you just want to have a lay in and watch that series that you’ve been eager to catch up on.
The frequency is completely down to you to decide on, but this is something that can work wonders for your wellbeing – especially when you have children and your time is way more limited. This is also a great way to improve the dynamic of your marriage, as when you take the time to give each other breathing space, the time spent together will be all the more appreciated.