Who can relate to this?
How many times have you had a friend come round for a catch up and ask, “So what have you been up to?” and you’ve replied with a simple, “Em, nothing really”?
How many of us never stop, are always busy, trying to find time to fit everything in, always rushing around and exhausted by the end of every day yet, can look back at the entire last week as see nothing but a blur?
How many of us have been so busy working through our never ending to do list that we didn’t have time to stop and play with our children or listen to the latest story they had to tell us?
Do you find it hard to switch off and do nothing but spend time with your kids without having a million things on your mind at the same time; the things you need to remember to do, places you need to remember to go? Do you find it hard to put your phone away for a few hours, not check it or answer messages / emails?
How many of us dream of having a relaxing weekend yet spend almost every one rushing kids to activities, birthday parties, cleaning the house, doing the food shopping, going over bills, planning for the next week ahead?
How many of you out there, like me, have forgotten how to completely switch off and relax, to slow down and enjoy life?
I was always busy.
My mind was always in over drive; the planning, the scheduling, the preparing, the to do list, the ideas, the appointments and places to be for the next day or the next or the next. Always focusing on the future instead of enjoying the moments happening in the present.
Too busy to listen to what Aiden was saying and too busy to take time out to play with him when he asked;
“Just let me do this, then I can play …”
“I’ll be there in five minutes …”
“Aiden, give mummy second please…”
Too busy to stop and chat to a friend I bump into in the street or meet in a shop, a quick;
“Oh hey! I’ve been meaning to message you. I can’t stop but I’ll give you a shout on Facebook!”
But I never get round to it.
I could never really switch off
Like when Aiden was in bed and I’d think, “Time to veg out on the sofa.” But I’d spot a toy on the floor so I’d pick it up, next thing I knew I’d spent an hour cleaning and de-cluttering.
Or I’d sit down to check Facebook and Instagram and before I knew it 2 hours had passed. I’d read what everyone else was doing with their evening and what they were eating for dinner (admiring the visuals), I ordered the food shop for the next week, I sorted my finances and adopted a new cat and it was now 11.30 pm and time to get to bed….
….But my mind was so wired, so switched on and I needed the time to relax (the time I was going to have as soon as I put Aiden to bed) so it would be close to 1 am meaning the next day I’d wake up still tired.
Why did I find it so hard to slow down, to switch off and to do nothing, just relax? Why couldn’t I slow down and enjoy life in the moment instead of always rushing to get to the next part?
I don’t want to live my life always tired and worn out. Stressed and anxious. Missing everything that’s happening around me. Looking at the past weeks as a distant blur where nothing significant happened, or maybe it did, I was too busy that I missed it.
I don’t want to look back during Aidens 18th birthday and think, “Where did the time go? Seriously, where DID the time go? What has happened in the last 18 years, I’ve been so busy that I’ve missed it.”
I don’t want to live a life where my days are spent trying to cram everything in. Where the end of each day feels like crossing a finish line.
I want to remember fun times together, the memorable moments, the milestones, the days exploring together, the laughs. Embrace the moments for what they are, savour them and take them all in because soon, they won’t be here anymore.
Mummyhood is a journey, I want to enjoy what happens along the way.
So why don’t We Slow Down?
I began to wonder (how very Carrie Bradshaw of me), just what was the rush for? Why are we always in a hurry? What or who stops us from slowing down and enjoying life at a new pace?
We don’t like to wait, to hang around doing nothing, to queue, wait for our turn. We want everything to be to be done and as quickly as possible. But why? Are we scared we’re going to miss something?
Social media, the internet, emails, mobile phones, smart TV’s, smart everything – it all gives us 24-hour access to the world. We can see what everyone else is doing in detail, how they are living, what they are buying, even what they’re eating for dinner on any given night! Are we all trying to keep up with one and other? To not be outdone or left behind?
We never switch off because we always have access to the world. Take getting the train somewhere for example;
In the ‘olden days’ this would involve looking out the window watching the world go by, reading a book or magazine, listening to a Walkman. These days we spend the journey with our faces glued to our phones; sending emails, sharing details of our journey or our day so far on Facebook, taking selfies or photos of our food to post on Instagram. Texting, memo-ing, to-do-ing, tweeting…. Anything to keep us busy and our minds occupied.
It’s time to stop
A few things happened over the course of a few months that made me realise I had to learn to slow down and focus on what’s important;
- Taking on too much, trying to do too much at once that my health deteriorated – illness, stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
- Being so tired that I’d snap at Aiden over the littlest of things. I realised, if I hadn’t stayed up until 12 am working then I wouldn’t be so tired.
- The realisation that Aiden acting up had coincided with me spending too much time doing other things – work, housework, errands and not spending any real, quality time with him or without distractions.
- Rushing around in the car from one place to the next doing errands all morning but not taking 15 minutes out to take Aiden to the park.
- Watching him walk so care free stopping to say hello to whoever we passed yet remembering the other day when I rushed past my best friend in too much of a hurry to stop and instead shouted, “I’ll give you a message!”
- My mum saying things like I never knew he could do this / that and realising I didn’t either because I’ve been too busy to notice.
Finally, while I was doing work one day, sitting glued to my laptop, Aiden was trying to get my attention and I caught myself saying;
“In a minute, mummy has to do some work.”
I looked at his disappointed little face, I began to realise that I was getting to the point where I was saying this a lot, every day, ignoring him too much.Too often. What was I doing on the laptop that was so important, more important than playing with my son when he’d asked so politely?
I was gutted. I looked at his innocent little face and thought, ‘how many times have I done this? How many times has he tried to tell me something that to him, a 2-year-old, is really important but I’ve simply said, “Not now Aiden.” How many times has he walked away deflated because mummy has been too busy for him again?’
For the rest of that day we did nothing but play, eat, sit in the garden, watch movies and cuddle.There were no tantrums from him, no stress for me and we both went to sleep happy after a great afternoon together.
We did that the next day and the next. The tantrums and acting up have stopped and get this, I’ve been happier and more relaxed.
I had to learn to slow down and enjoy life instead of planning for it
We can’t always be expected to be on the floor playing with our children or seeing to their every demand, we do have other things to do and we can’t be expected to cram it all into the few hours they’re in bed at night.
Mums need to work. We need to do a lot of things – work, housework, errands, shopping, kids… We have to do lists because there is a lot to do. But we need to learn to slow down. Stop trying to be supermums 24/7.
‘Enjoy the Little Things For One Day You’ll Wake Up and Realise That They Were the Big Things’
I don’t ever want Aiden thinking that whatever is on mummy’s laptop or phone is more important than him. At least not ever again.
So, I’m leaning to do less. To not take on so much, to stop trying to cram so much into one day, to switch off my brain and most importantly, learn to enjoy the little things.
I’m learning to be present, not put a time frame on everything. If something takes a little longer than expected, then so be it. It’s not the end of the world. My life isn’t going to fall apart.
I’m learning to focus on who I’m with when I’m with them. Aiden mostly. We go out for walks more. I let Aiden lead the way, stop to explore the things he sees, at his pace. We’re not going anywhere in particular, we’re just walking. There’s no rush.
I’m learning to have more patience. He’s little. He takes his time. I can learn from him.
I turn my phone off at 9 pm every night (and no, that’s not just because I want peace to watch love island uninterrupted….. honest). Nothing on social media or emails are so important they can’t wait until the morning. Having that hour or two to completely switch off and relax helps me get ready to sleep at a decent time. I wake up actually feeling like I’ve slept.
I do things mindfully, focusing on what I’m doing in that moment. Doing one thing at a time rather than tying to be a multitasking supermum. That way, I don’t get something half done, get distracted and move onto the next thing then remember the first thing I started and have to rush back to it later. I’m learning to not jam a million things into a schedule for one day and actually take my time.
I no longer check social media and emails while eating breakfast, playing with Aiden, out at the park…. This was a hard one, I’ll admit. It took practice. But now, I sit with Aiden, chat to him, watch him, play along with him. If I’m doing the housework and Aiden wants to show me something, I take the five minutes to watch.
I’m learning to let life happen—live it, rather than plan for it. I’m learning to enjoy each moment with Aiden; have sleepovers in mummy’s bed, not live on a strict schedule, mix it up a bit, watch movies, eat pizza, go out in the pissing rain to splash in puddles! To hold onto these moments for as long as I can and stop looking ahead. One day Aiden will stop asking mummy to play, to hold his hand, splash in the rain, play with lego or bake cakes because he’ll be all grown up and on his 18th birthday I wan’t to look back and think yeah, we had a great time when you were young and I never missed a minute.
I’m learning to slow down, enjoy life in the moment and breathe. It really is quite a nice way to live.
For more posts about well being and taking care of yourself, check out the Mummy Well Being section and if you’re also a mum struggling to hold it together, have a look at the coping strategies that I find work really well.
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