For the first time in who knows how long, I’ve actually read a book. A book that isn’t about babies, nonetheless. Huzzah! Ok, not all true. It’s called ‘Babyproofing Your Marriage’ – a book sorta kinda related to babies, but more about relationships. (I’m trying, ok)

I didn’t exactly feel this book shot the lights out. Besides all the advice I found completely obvious and part of the natural course of things (hello, we’ve been having it), I thought that for the most part it was rather outdated nonsense. To assume that what all men really want is sex, sex and more sex, and that women just want the dishes done (are we living in the 50’s? Really???) is kind of juvenile if you ask me, and rather narrow minded.

But besides the parts that annoyed me that I had spent a couple hundred words that could have been elsewhere read with my VERY limited reading time these days, I did find a few helpful gems hidden in all the rubble.

One of these gems was the importance of investing in happiness activities (post babies) for a person and their partner – separately. After work, after parenting, after the relationship stuff – we need time out alone to be happy. This may sound strange. Surely having a baby is one of those pinnacles of a relationship? You know, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby’s carriage? Surely it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you have found the meaning of life, Disney Princess style?

Surely the gorgeous goo’s and gaa’s and this precious little creature you created from nothing other than your own raw, unadulterated love is happiness enough?

No. No it’s not.

Because the fine print we all too eagerly skip over is that two people are still individuals while bringing another individual into this world. And even when we still band together, rally the forces and make time for the new individual and each other, what about ourselves? As one of those individuals, I found that my life gets put on hold AT BEST. In a more realistic sense, it is deserted, threatening never to be re-inhabited.

I’m not talking about life ‘how it used to be’. I know those days are LONG gone – and good riddance. They were fun, but much like I don’t want to be 15 years old ever again (despite the freakishly high metabolism and baby-bottom skin) I am happy to move forward with my life leaving my memories where they belong: in the past.

What I mean is the ‘me’ stuff. I didn’t expect to miss me so much. The ‘selfish’ stuff – the things we so often call ‘hobbies’. But actually, they are the things that are necessary for making us tick, for us to be filled up, rejuvenated and able to keep on keeping on. The things that help us feel inner-worth, self-actualisation, and a sense of purpose in this world. (Other than the tremendous role and honour of being a wife/partner and mother/parent, of course.) When you become a parent, you need that power kick up the proverbial more than ever before because it’s just too easy to not find time for these things.

For some, the ‘me’ stuff means playing an instrument or a group sport. For some it’s getting involved in charity or baking. My list, in no particular order, is as follows: Music, Reading, Writing, Exercise, Spending time with my friends, Cleaning/Organising and Sewing/Creating. These are the things that I often think about and if I don’t get to do them, I feel stressed and worn out. But when I do them I am filled up and ready for my other roles and duties. But ever since my son was born, I have hardly been able to find time for any of them.

It’s come to the point where I need to make time to be revitalised, because an empty well won’t water anybody. And trust me, the thirsty mind wanders, leaving heart-stopping notes lying scattered around, saying it’s never coming back.

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But how? HOW does a partner and parent get round to these things when there is so much more to be done? How can I possibly find time for my hobbies when I can barely find time to blow dry my hair?

The truth about this stage of motherhood (the stage where daylight is spent 99% focused on a 10 month old, but come 7pm and he’s down, my life is all mine again till 5am the next morning), I finally have snippets of time for myself again. A possible hobby – even a friendly encounter or two. A glass of wine for sure! But when you have just spent the last 14 hours completely focused on the baby, there is very little left. Deep deep down, I have to drag up the energy for a hobby. And the even harder truth is, if someone were to look at my life over the past few months, they would think my hobbies were: Sleeping on the couch, catching up on Facebook and Netflix, cooking baby food and sitting staring into the abyss. Completely spent.

I have wasted so many morsels of time just feeling spent. Morsels so precious they should be charged by the gram. So I needed a plan.

Being the somewhat nerdy, teacher’s pet, perfectionist that I am, I came up with a spreadsheet to help me reach targets: The Happy Hit List.

I’m very proud of this list. It’s even colour coded – like a star chart for adulthood! (seen those doing the rounds) You may have to help me keep in check, see if it’s a hit or miss – but the plan is to check off each block every 2 weeks. I decided to start out biweekly to make it more attainable, but hope to work up to a weekly roster. Some things obviously needed sub-divisions (because exercise can’t be once every two weeks, it needs to be every day) and I have set no actual time limit to each of these blocks. For now, if I tick off a block, it could mean I spent 5 minuets or 5 hours (ha!) dedicated to that heading. The important thing is that it was done and it was completely uninterrupted.

I’m hoping that my Happy Hit List will help create a less stressed, less chaotic environment for me to get a few things done that I want for myself, rather than staring at them from a dark corner, shivering and lamenting the life I used to have.

I guess today I can tick the ‘Writing’ block off. Success!

Wish me luck 😉

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IMAGES: 1. Via blog / 2. blog