SLOW DOWN… Take Time For Yourself, Mammy

It is really only in autumn and spring time that I can almost physically feel the Earth turning and the seasons changing. Having spent some more time in deepest Kilkenny last weekend, the countryside looked quite different than when we were there in July. We passed so many fields of hay bales, rolled and looking like giant breakfast cereals. On the farm the orchard was heavy with ripe red apples and the air smelt different. Fingers of damp touched my skin in the evening and early morning. Heavy dew fell at night, making for soggy pre breakfast walks.

I love autumn. It is probably my favourite season. I love summer too with all its outdoor activity and loose routines. But once we arrive in September, I can feel the change of tempo in my bones. As the earth draws energy inwards to itself, preparing Mother Nature for her long winter sleep, I too change my focus back onto myself. With the children gone back to school, routines have become re-established. The house is once more quiet in the mornings and has been returned to me. I love the peace and stillness and the opportunity to do what I love – to write. Over the last 9 years I have used this free time in the morning to investigate and experiment with all kinds of things that interest me. It has also taken me most of those years to get over the slight guilt I sometimes feel, by devoting some hours every morning to my own stuff!

As women who are ‘housewives’ or ‘stay at home moms’, it can sometimes be very difficult to protect time for ourselves. Due to lack of job description or contract for the post of Mammy, you can easily become the target of various others, from family members to your own kids who think you are just sitting at home, drinking coffee and waiting for something to do. Therefore you get can too easily get sucked into all kinds of errands for others. It is vital to establish boundaries and a healthy self respect for yourself and your job of running a home and children.

The time in the morning is often the only opportunity in the day for some ‘me’ time. Once the kids arrive home, there is homework and dinner and housework. In my experience most mothers will ‘work’ till at least 9pm on week nights. So take that time in the morning. It is yours, grab it with both hands, hold onto it tight as others may gently try to wrestle it away. You do not need to justify to anyone the fact that you are choosing to go to the gym, read a book, write a book, bake cakes or learn a new skill in the morning. Remember that your job, albeit looking after your family, is a job and the old adage is true – all work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl!

Photo from by Noukorama on Flickr.

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11 Comments

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  1. I loved driving through Ireland's countryside and seeing the bales of hay.

    It's been in the 90s here, so it doesn't feel like fall yet.

    When my youngest went to kindergarten, I was aimless. I missed her (crazy me), so I didn't treasure the time and write. In addition, I wound up helping out in her class. Now when I have a day off, and the kids are at school, I spend it writing.

    I hope you have a relaxing, productive autumn, Barbara!

  2. Although autumn is not my favourite season, it has its own magic and I always think I'd hate to live in a country that didn't experience the changing of the seasons. I agree that time for yourself is so very important and that's where being a granny is great. Although the housework, garden and pets etc. do need looking after there's still loads of time left to just sit and let life pass by.

  3. Morning is my writing time too. As the day wears on and demands become more insistent my head spins and not in a good way. I think this is good advice for women who also work out of the home. Take an hour for yourself in the day to do what you want to do, or need to do to make you happy.

  4. Brilliant post, it's so easy to feel guilty for taking time during the day as you often forget how long your 'working day' goes on for, and that you never, ever go off duty. Not many jobs are 24/7!

    Thanks for this 🙂

  5. Autumn sings to me – the colours, the fresh smell in the air, the chill of the mornings and the surprising strength of the sun… it is definitely my favourite season. And I think you are so right in this post. When I was self-employed and worked from home, I found my writing time being eaten up by partner/relatives wanting me to 'just pop here', or do that washing 'as I'm at home', or cleaning, or a myriad of other things that kept me from doing what I had to do. It is very hard to set those boundaries without a contract. 🙂 I think next time around I will draw one up!

  6. I think it is good advice as Ann says for all women, we do need to find an hour for ourselves.
    I am not particularly good at it myself, I always feel guilty with too much time on my hands so tend to fill it.

  7. I agree!
    I say the following sentence outloud and often (mostly to convince myself i think) –
    “Between ten a.m and twelve is sacred.”
    I keep that time free from interruptions (even nice offers of walks) It's only two hours but its mine to write no matter what state the kitchen is in. (except fri mornings when I have to go out to work)

  8. Since I gave up teaching and started to write my biggest problem has been my mum. She can't understand that being at home means that I'm working. She thinks it means that I am 'available' for errands, visits etc. I'm not saying I don't want to visit my mum but I'd love her to value and recognise my writing time.

  9. Brilliant post. Your point reminded me of Shakespeare. Have just downloaded Hamlet to my iPad (on the Leaving Cert for next year) and am reminded of Polonius' advice to his son – 'to thine own self be true, and then as night follows day, thou canst not then be false to any man'. I rest my case!

  10. Thanks Theresa for the good autumnal wishes..
    Nor – yep I know as the years go on I will (hopefully) have some more time for stuff!
    Ann- yep thanks for drawing my attention to the fact that women who work outside also need to make time for themselves.. although I do think that the very fact that you are in work you are yourself… you are not there as a wife or mother but as yourself! I suppose this then leads on to another of my theories for life – make sure you work at something you love
    Jayne – 'autumn sings to you' – beautiful. Its a wonderful season
    Brigid – guilt – one of the worse emotions to burden yourself with.. but I agree its a hard on to break!
    NIamh – love the idea that between 10am and 12noon is sacred!
    Rosalind – your problem is so common. People do see writing as some kind of useless indulgence.
    Padraic – there you are… bringing Shakespeare and an iPad with you. How appropriate!!!

  11. I so agree that the mornings can be a sanctuary for mums that write. I am getting used to the idea that my two are too grown up now to need me much at all, and with a recent loss of job my whole day can be devoted to my freelance work, writing, reading and learning new skills. Now I just need some money and I can stop feeling guilty!

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