Something about having three young kids makes you a little more guarded about any scrap of potential quietish time you could possibly have.
Lately we’ve been playing in the front yard a lot because the kids are loving the front yard things: bikes, scooters, and swings. And our backyard is pretty small so it makes sense. I like the front yard too.
The downside for this introverted mama is all the people. Sigh. Sometimes it gets exhausting to make the small talk with the neighbors, corral the kids, and moderate playtime with the neighbor kids who my kids enjoy immensely. Which is great. But mama is overwhelmed. Even just greetings or standing around watching the kids together is draining because of the expectation to visit or be social.
Anyway. I feel like my quietish moments have been quartered and social expectations have been doubled thanks to the kids love of the front yard.
Often lately I’m trying to straggle together my quiet moments so I can unwind or refresh my energy levels a little bit.
And it’s harder than you’d think. Not only because the kids are all about being children. (How dare they be so childish! <– I forget where I saw someone say that, but it has been a helpful thought to me!))
Today, feeling almost anxious about my lack of free time, I googled ‘How to make the most of 20 minutes of quiet time.” Mhmm. It didn’t solve my problem but it did get me here which is helping.
I would love to have that restorative feeling that I get after doing some things but not others. And to be able to feel restored and refreshed and happy again after few minutes in whatever specific activity does the trick. I don’t know how to consistently make that happen.
I do know some things that don’t help and some that do, so maybe just paying better attention to what I am doing and how I am feeling about what I am doing will help in the long run. It’s not the short cut I was looking for but living a little more mindfully could only help.
Things that I find myself doing often that are draining:
- Endless to-do list making. I am an idealist. I can make really long lists. Really easily. So figuring out what is essential and most life-giving would be key. (A book about that: Essentialism by Greg McKeown)
- Scrolling and flipping and paging on my phone.
- Feeling pressured to do all the things with all the people. And not doing anything instead.
- Feeling like I have not enough time for anything and just watching netflix instead because I’ve already exhausted myself with my expectations.
- Deciding I can’t or shouldn’t do things because other people think I can’t or shouldn’t. Same goes for can or should. Only I get to decide what I can, should, can’t or shouldn’t. humph.
- Reading too many books at once or not stopping a book when I’ve stopped enjoying it. Just because you thought you wanted to read something doesn’t mean you have to once you have it in your hands. That’s why you use the library. ta-da! It’s magic.
- Getting stuck in a negative loop of all the things I’ve not managed to do. or read. or be. There’s always another verb. You’re fine. It’s fine. It’s all going to be fine.
So now there is an excellent list of things not to do when I’m trying to enjoy a few minutes of rejuvenation when the children are by some miracle playing together nicely. or maybe they’re asleep. Who knows.
(Right now I’m pretending not to notice that they’ve made a mud puddle around the corner by transporting water a mouthful at a time from their water bottle – which I’ve asked them to leave on the patio – to the mud. yup.)
What to do?
This is the question that I am currently overthinking and it is giving me mental hives.
It seems like basically anything that won’t result in the children immediately jumping on you again. So it has to look boring? I’d guess a 50% success rate if it at least looks boring.
I think that about covers it.
- Sitting on the floor in the kitchen with your eyes closed. Try not to think about what to make for dinner but if it comes to you accept the inspiration and then continue to sit with your eyes closed. Bonus points if the kids are wandering around the house trying to find you and just haven’t managed – you’ve found a good spot.
- Drinking a cup of coffee and letting out some thoughts onto a page. I find coffee sometimes restores my sense of humor. And turning mental hives into words is good for perspective.
- Picking up some fiction. I find sometimes I have a hard time starting a new book, but once I figure out who the main characters are it’s easier to jump back in the next time I have a few minutes. I scroll the most between fiction reads.
- Looking out the window. Just focus on those trees in the wind not that empty diaper box the kids brought outside at some point. ahem…yeah..Trees. And clouds. So pretty.
Well those are some things for my list now.
What’s on your list of activities you actually find life-giving when you have a few minutes?
Find me on Instagram where I tend to be less wordy and, as long I don’t check it tooo much when I’m not actually posting something, it tends to be restorative.
Also: learning to some things despite the interruptions is somewhat discouraging, but much better than not doing the things at all.
The older two brought me a flower and made many other assertions of their presence. The youngest was asleep. And we managed. They’re fine. I’m fine. And here are some words. It’s all fine.