A couple of weeks ago we had a zoom catch up with some lovely folk and heard about all the things those that don’t have kids are planning to learn/master during this weird time of extra time. There were some fun and creative ideas, but none I felt I could possibly achieve with a young child around the place. The only other mum in this particular conversation said that what she hoped to achieve was “survival”. I seconded that. It is wonderful to learn new things and feel that sense of achievement, but as a mum talking to mums I really want to offer the freedom to believe that all we really have to do is get through this in as close to one piece as we can!
Over the last month, I have learnt a lot about how my immediate family work; what their needs are, how they show and receive love, and the sticking points in our relationships. I have to say by this week (week four?…I’ve lost track) I certainly feel we are getting into more of a groove. One of the phrases I go by in life (and one I’ve coined myself) is happy mummy, surviving mummy. Do your family know your needs too? As mums, we are much more sensitive to picking up on our family’s needs. Our natural ability to attune to our children (which comes innately from their birth) allows us this insight. I guess another question to ask yourself is do you know what your own needs are? I soon worked out that the intensity of having Poppi around all the time (as lovely as she is!!) was too much. Her constant chatter and the way she follows me around like a puppy was so draining in that first week. I learnt about myself that I value (and actually need) time to myself perhaps more than I had realised in the past. If I was to survive this season of life I needed to install some sort of alone time.
Normally perhaps, I might have left the house, gone for a walk/run or even gone to work to provide a change of scenery and a time of transition between home life and other life. Now those things have been restricted or removed the challenge became a bit tougher. The introvert in my was craving time to just allow my head some space, to think, to gather my thoughts, to process the day. Whatever it might be. I wasn’t getting it and therefore I didn’t feel I was surviving the days well.
As a family, we agreed to include alone time on our DAILY timetable (weekends excluded). For the first few days, Poppi didn’t really get the concept and constantly interrupted (mainly me) for attention or to show/ask something. However, as the weeks have gone on, she has appreciated the importance of it and, I believe, come to value it herself. She will now often plan what she is going to do for that hour. I also learnt that the odd question is acceptable and to totally ignore her was in fact mean and unfair!! (Yup, I’m definitely learning from this too!). The slight compromise has made the whole process very manageable. If Poppi becomes more persistent (which she has only done on one or two occasions) I gently remind her that I am reading (or whatever I’m doing) and we can chat again shortly. Having that understanding that I will be available again soon helps her manage the time too. Our alone time happens straight after lunch, a natural “dip” point in the day for me. The space to recharge my batteries has provided the possibility for survival and removed the probability of failure.