“It feels like I can’t focus even when I do have free time!”
“What free time?”
“Even when I do have time without kids, there is my perpetual To Do list demanding attention, before I can relax.”
Have you heard these phrases come out of your mouth? Or that of a mama friend’s? So in examining what is going on with moms free time, it comes to light, that it is not just what we choose to do with it, or how much free time we have, but the fact that women’s (mother’s) free time is more likely to be contaminated, fragmented, and interupted then men’s free time. Men are more likely then women to spend “pure adult leisure ” time with no children present. Doing things with children may be fun, but is is still subject to the needs of others, and requires a higher level of responsibility. Most concerning is that owing to all this interuption and contamination, free time for moms may be ineffectual-meaning we aren’t really recharging our batteries. Based on my observations of self and clients, this time pressure on mothers, seems to be primarily self imposed. Women feel that they will be held accountable if housework and childcare don’t get done. Most often they are holding themselves accountable. Take a moment to analyze your free time. How are you spending it? For me, “free time” may be during my toddlers nap on a day I am not seeing clients. However, I find myself at the computer tending to business emails, or working on the mountain of laundry that builds up over the week (that perpetual to do list). Or I take 15 minutes in the morning to shower and get dressed, but invevitably, I am interupted atleast 12 times by spouse, dog, or children, needing, asking, arguing, or wanting to show me something.
Make it a point this week to re-define your free time. Let go of the laundry, the dishes, the kids needs. My good friend, Claire, who watches one other toddler four days a week, put her little one in childcare on the fifth day. To my surprise, I ran into her while frantically running errands before my 2 year got cranky, but she was sitting having breakfast at a local cafe, looking serene and relaxed. She waved, and said she always has breakfast there on Fridays. We could all learn something from her, I thought as I raced off to the bank, the mechanic, the library and the grocery store, brain spinning about what I would then do during my daughter’s nap.
We are all in process, so don’t judge yourself harshly, but do set the intention to use the free time you have more effectively!