Do you know what question I got asked most when my youngest started school? ''What are you going to do with all your free time?''
I'd laugh and say that I don't know or *jokingly* say I'll take a long nap; but more often than not I found myself racking my brain trying to think of things to do to justify said ''free time''.
Over the past 10 years since my eldest was born, I've been in survival mode. I've been physically exhausted, mentally drained and constantly feeling that I'm not getting everything that I am ''supposed to'' done. This has been my reality for so long, that my brain didn't know anything else anymore.
Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't change being home with my kids for anything. But being a mother is hard. I am sure any mother would agree, whether you're is a working mum or stay-at-home-mum.
Of course we are all in different situation; some have family or paid for help; and if you do, take all the help you can get! Others don't, I don't either.
Somewhere in amongst the nappies, and cuddles and dishes and kisses and laundry and first steps, and teething and sleep regression and first words and sleep deprivation and co-sleeping, I forgot how to (or lost the ability to) come up for air and take a breath. We are commended for being busy, exhausted and spread way to thinly. We are called ''super mums'' and we are so thankful to be ''seen'' that we take it as a compliment. Why do we (and others) put so much pressure on ourselves to fill every second of our days, only to lie in bed at night and beat ourselves up for everything we didn't do, or didn't do ''right'' that day?
Once my son started school I quickly realised that I didn't actually have much ''free'' time. The house still needed tending, the laundry still needed doing, my family still needed to be fed and the mountain of admin was still never ending. BUT... I am slowly learning to breathe in between responsibilities again. I can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or make a phone call to a friend without being jumped or having to break up a fight. For now, I'm not filling up all my free time with this and that. That time is not longer ''free'', it is ''my time''. I am still busy during that time, but I am busy looking after me. This will look different for each of us, as it should. We are all wonderfully unique, constantly growing, learning and re-learning the things we enjoy. And we shouldn't feel guilty about it! We are not lazy or unproductive if we don't fill every second of our day. We are not weak if we take time to attend to our own mental and emotional needs. We are not bad mothers/wives/sisters/friends if we don't put everyone else's needs before our own all the time.
So, to answer the original question, what am I going to do with all my free time?
The only constant in life is change, so this season of my life will pass one day and I will enter the next, but for now I am going to sit in silence with a cup of coffee and breathe...