Motherhood & the impossibility of down time

Motherhood and the impossibility of down time

I am lying beside my two year old. My head is full of things I should be doing but I can’t leave until he drifts off to sleep. He had a nap at daycare, which never bodes well for an easy bed-time. I can hear the television, my husband relaxing. Teeth gritted, I wish my little one to sleep. My own body is giving into exhaustion and I wonder if I will get to the writing/washing/sewing/emails/cleaning or whether I will fall from one bed to another. Another night wasted. Another pay-off for getting up at five when the boys wake and trying to squeeze a few minutes of work in before breakfast. There is precious little child-free time to book-end my day.

I get a Monday reprieve from the night time routine. I play netball with some school mums and it’s a welcome distraction. My husband puts the boys to bed and it’s fine. But if I am in the house, they expect me. It’s just easiest to go with it. Even when I am unwell, story time will move to wherever I am resting. If I am around in the mornings, then it’s me the boys rouse and hustle out of bed. This is motherhood. It comes with the territory and one day they will be old enough to sleep without cuddles and to wake without company.

But right now, they still need me and I am grateful for it. Mostly. There are the family holidays which seem to be trips away from routine for everyone but me. I have talked about with my friends before. When you go away as a mum with your family, it’s the same job in a different location.

Right now, child-free time means time away from the house. Which when you are tired and in need of nurturing isn’t always the best idea. There are plenty of times I yearn for the house to myself on a day away from working. To do nothing but lounge around, run a bath, read and watch a season of whatever.

If that window of time became available would I do it? Probably not. I’d see dishes to wash, clothes to fold and wardrobes to tidy. I’d see time to catch up on emails and time to write. I have been conditioned to believe that time spent idly on myself is time wasted.

So my child-free breaks are taken outside the house. Catching up with friends over dinners and drinks. Or attending a course. Or exercising. And I love that. I love that I can do that. But is that the only kind of break my soul needs?

I can’t blame my family for my exhaustion if I don’t value myself enough to allow myself some proper down-time. I just have to work on seeing the value in down-time. Allowing myself that luxury.

Arrow 2

What do your child-free breaks look like?
Do you take any sofa days?


Linking up with Essentially Jess and IBOT

46 thoughts on “Motherhood & the impossibility of down time

  1. Amy @ HandbagMafia says:

    My three year old only wants mummy these days. It can get draining. She is such a sweet heart- but it would be nice to get some writing done without her pulling me in other direction 🙂 she is in day care 3 days now, but I work part time so it’s not always a break for me. When it is, it’s lovely.
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted…Confessions of a ClutterbugMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      My littlest is also in daycare 3 days a week – but man it goes fast within those school hours. And the pressure is to always be working.

  2. Jodi Gibson says:

    Things do get easier. My child-free breaks when my kids were younger were mostly outside of the house, it’s easier that way and I found I could almost totally switch off (do we ever totally switch off motherhood?). No they are older, our youngest is nearly 8, I can steal some time here and there. But not as much as I’d love too either!

    • Robyna says:

      I am looking forward to them both being in school and feeling a little bit more like the school hours really belong to me. The days that my littlest is in daycare feel like they have to be work, work, work to justify the cost.

      • Georgie says:

        Hi Robyna, Assuming you are wanting to justify the total cost of daycare, what if you calulated the difference in cost between Daycare and Shool fees then only work to justify the difference every now and then? Even if it is one day a month, give yourself the ok to lie down on the couch and read something you enjoy when E is at Daycare, then do it! Or maybe give yourself a defined number of leave days per year as you would have if you were working for someone else, and use them. Having said that my down time today while the little ones were at Kindy was making patty cakes for tuckshop tomorrow while watching bad tv shows on the tablet, doing laundry and clean sheets day.

        • Robyna says:

          It really is just about given myself permission to do nothing I think – that’s a great idea re giving myself leave.

  3. Dr Sash @ From the Left Field says:

    Great post, and so true! It’s also hard if you work from home, so then all the lines become blurred between where to relax, when to do chores, and how to juggle it all to get some ‘you’ time in. I’m my own worst enemy, I crave some downtime, but if I stop doing things then I stress about all the things that need to get done. And child-free breaks are virtually non-existent right now. Must rectify that! But you’re right, it won’t be like this forever.
    Dr Sash @ From the Left Field recently posted…Are you a shit human? Come hang out right here…My Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I work from home and feel that acutely – I don’t feel comfortable at all using my “work” days to relax – unless it’s something outside the house.

  4. EssentiallyJess says:

    I remember the having to lay down thing and it drove me nuts! You just feel as if half your life is being wasted!
    The good thing is, it does pass. Things get easier in some ways, although parenting itself doesn’t. But there’s sort of more space to breathe. You’ll get there. xx
    EssentiallyJess recently posted…The Stories in My Head #IBOTMy Profile

  5. Eva @ The Multitasking Woman says:

    My child-free breaks look very similar, I always find myself doing something other than sitting down and doing nothing! When people tell me to ‘lie down and relax’ I just can’t do it, my mind is always going 100 miles an hour on things I ‘should’ be doing. I find that ‘me time’ is better spend doing something away from home like having a facial or a coffee somewhere.
    Eva @ The Multitasking Woman recently posted…4 Parenting Taboos I’m Not Scared to Admit ToMy Profile

  6. Bec @ Seeing the Lighter Side says:

    Yes yes yes! This is my life! There’s just no space in the day without kids. Breaking my ankle was a turning point – I literally couldn’t do anything so the boys just got used to daddy taking over. We make sure we alternate bedtime duties to try and maintain the status quo. I don’t reckon breaking a bone as a solution though! xxx
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  7. Bec Senyard says:

    This is me too. Child-free time is usually me on the computer getting work done or checking on emails. I’ll be honest, sometimes I get a little bitter about it, but then I remember I wanted this and my babes are only little for so long and it will get better. (I hope it does.) I can’t stop unless all the work is done and we all know that our work is NEVER done as mums. We just have to leave it and do something that nourishes our soul. x
    Bec Senyard recently posted…Why I’ve Never Regretted Attending an Awards NightMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I tend to fill my child free time with the same things – I have to check myself sometimes and tell myself it’s actually okay to sit and read a book.

  8. Sarah @sarahdipity says:

    I can so relate to this Robyna! My husband is really supportive about giving me some alone time but it’s always to ‘do’ something- dinner with friends, shopping etc when sometimes all I want to do is lay in bed and read a book or take a hot bath. But I can’t because a) I feel guilty and ridiculous asking for that and b) it’s near impossible to do with a little boy in the house who wants his mummy! Even now that I’m not working and he’s at kinder I spend that time cleaning the house, running errands, or blogging- I feel like I have to fill that time up by doing useful things. It’s frustrating but even worse when you realise it’s really your own fault!

  9. Tracy says:

    When our kids were little my child free time came at 7pm when they all went to bed. Our kids were really pretty good at going to bed and going to sleep reasonably quickly.

    One of the hardest things about having young adults is that we can’t set their bedtimes anymore. It means there is never any down-time for this introverted mother who is also a full-time teacher, this is one thing I really struggle with. Also, because I have two who are out of school and into tertiary years there is never a day when no one is home. My girls take turns with who is home and who is out each day! There is actually no day, ever, where I’m the only one here.

    • Robyna says:

      I didn’t even think of the times ahead when that will become an issue. Mothers need small hotels where you can book by the hour – not for THAT reason – but to get some downtime.

  10. virginia sliedrecht says:

    this is the way life is, there is very little down time at any stage of your life when the children are small you care and worry about them and their future, often you also have grandparents to care for as your parents are at work. Once you get back to work full time ( rarely in your field of study and never at the same pay rate) your life is never like that of your husband.You come home to a household loaded with chores cooking ,cleaning,washing gardening, care of the animals and the list just goes on and on.When you do go on holidays,it doesn’t stop it just a different enviorment to cook and clean in. The truth is though I loved having my girls in my twenties, my girls and their boys are the loves of my life the rest is just what it is.and down time is what you had in your teens.

  11. Maxabella says:

    I think we have all lost our way a little. We no longer value true hobbies and pasttimes. Imagine having time to ‘pass’. I think we need to get back to those kinds of things. All the conveniences in the world and we’ve never felt busier. I think it’s because there was value in shelling our own peas, stirring our own batter, making our own bread. The value of time.

    • Robyna says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one to sneak work into whatever cracks of time I can find. Only issue being that clients then think you’re up for working on Sunday.

  12. Cristin @Between Roots & Wings says:

    I really relate to this. I am lucky enough that I get to have my girls brunches and dinners every couple of weeks, but there’s something about being in your own home alone. It took me a couple of years to realize that was what I was really craving – even an hour or two in the house with no one else at home. I make my husband take my kid to the park some days, and while I do pick at the dishes or laundry, I *somehow* manage to just plant myself onto the sofa and read a book or watch a TV show, as well! 😉

  13. Kitty says:

    Yeah, I’ve definitely found that outside the home down time doesn’t really work for me, I need to be alone, proper alone! Which is very difficult to achieve. I settle for headphones on and dancing around the kitchen as a way to escape for a few minutes now. Which may not be for everyone 😉

  14. Kim says:

    Ahhhh yes, the elusive home down time that isn’t really down time because the entire time you’re doing the down time those bloody mum and work jobs niggle in the back of the mind.
    Your nights sound like mine, it’s extremely frustrating but at the same time you know it won’t last forever.
    I’m writing this taking advantage of the boys being out of the house and my feet are up, but i know it won’t be for long. There’s washing to fold, vacuuming, mopping and dusting to be done, rooms to tidy, a dog to walk and articles to write. Perhaps if i stop procrastinating and just do it i’ll have 30mins to myself before they come home ?

  15. GoodFoodWeek says:

    I also play netball on a Monday night to get a little me time. I have played pregnant with both boys until 24 weeks as I just wanted to get out of the house for an hour. For about a year now, I have also been going to yoga {which has a creche} for an hours peace each week. Exercise and free-time equals a happy Mummy.
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    • Robyna says:

      Wow – you’re amazing. I reckon the longer you can exercise in pregnancy the better. Exercise definitely makes a better mother as well.

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