I love being a mum. And I adore my daughter. When I watch her play and learn and grow it absolutely melts my heart. Which is why I feel so guilty admitting that most days my favourite time is nap time. And lately I have been deeply yearning to be something more than a mum. Today is one of those days. When everyone else in the house got up, packed their bags and headed out the door to their jobs and I found myself at home, my daughter and I in our pjs, building duplo towers and I wondered just how much longer I could put two pieces of duplo together and pull them apart again before I lost my mind.
Perhaps I need to fill my days with more activities? Get out of the house more? Spend more time with friends with kids? But I actually do this, I plan a play date or activity for nearly every day. It is how I stay sane.
Having recently moved to a new place I’ve been looking around to find the playgroups and kids activities in my area. And there’s heaps happening. But I’ve been lacking motivation to get involved. I spoke to a friend about it and she said ‘what you need is to find something that is meaningful to you’. And I realised that is the exact reason that story time at the library isn’t cutting it.
Often, after drinking 500 pretend cups of tea, I find being home with my daughter boring. Yet I would never be bored if I was home alone. I have big dreams and plans for my own life, much of which can be achieved at home. My frustration is that I just can’t seem to reach them. Instead I spend my days trying to teach my daughter to pick up the towels she just pulled off the shelf and sit in her highchair.
Each morning I have a plan of things I would love to do that day, and I always think ‘I’ll do that in nap time’. I run a business in nap time, I clean the house, I use it to catch up on sleep because my daughter still wakes us up at night, I do the family admin, I read books about babies and toddlers, I sort and plan and get ready for our new baby and I use it as my time to do anything that I want to do for myself (like write this blog or any creative project that I have on the go). There is just so much that I want to do during nap time. And I often find myself frustrated that I can’t get it all done. The problem here is that I have tried to squeeze an entire life of stuff into a 1.5 hour window each day.
I had a realisation last year when it occurred to me that nap time was only slightly longer than the time it took my husband to get ready for work in the mornings. He would normally have an hour to himself before work while my daughter and I were still asleep. The difference is that no one had any expectations of him in that hour. All he had to do was get himself ready for work. On the other hand I have all kinds of ideas and plans for nap time. Surely I can do it all, other women seem to!
When I imagined being a stay at home mum I imagined myself as the baker, the crafty mum, the well educated reading mum who knows everything about kids’ development and parenting, the exercising mum, the mum with homemade pintrest toys, the mum with a fridge and freezer full of healthy snacks, the mum who was always trying out new recipes. Never would I be bored as a mum! But, in reality it took me three months to make playdough. Sometimes it takes hours to cook a meal because I also have to hold my daughter’s ‘baby’ and repeatedly wrap it up in a teatowel and shush it to sleep. For some reason watching me rock and shush her doll makes my daughter incredibly happy. That’s why, despite my daughter being 18 months old and me loving home and creative projects, you haven’t seen any on my blog so far. I am planning to make a mobile for my new baby though….. But I’m not even going to try to fit that one in to nap time.
Once I started talking about this I discovered I’m not the only one facing this challenge. A friend of mine has started getting up at 4am just so she can have three hours to herself before her mummy duties kick in. Others I know find meaning in going back to work. Others have their toddlers in childcare. Others, perhaps, simply love playing with duplo.
This isn’t a blog post with answers. In fact it is a post with a question to other mums. I am genuinely curious – how and when do you get things done? What do you use nap time for? Do you feel less productive than before you had kids and how do you cope with this? And, most importantly, how much time can you spend building duplo towers?