Monday, November 16, 2015

Ten Things I Enjoyed on a Kid-Free Day


As I drove down the highway, I could feel the 327 tabs open in my brain slowly close.  Appointments–close. Preschool–close.  Laundry–close. Grocery shopping–close.  Field trip forms–close.  Library books–close. Emails–close.  The pressure in my mind started to alleviate and tears came to my eyes.  Having four kids can be overwhelming at times; throw in some sleep deprivation and special needs and it's almost a constant state of stress.  To be surrounded by the noise that my four monkeys create can be just too much for this introverted mom, and so, I decided to leave my family for 24 hours. On my own.

What did I learn from this time away?  Without kids, I could...

1.  Pee when I wanted to.  If I felt like I needed to use the bathroom, I did. I wasn't trying to herd four kids around while making sure that their stomachs were full and their shoes were tied; I could listen to my body and just go.  Usually, I forget about it until everyone's contained in their seatbelt and I remember that I really, really need the facilities.  Not only did I get to go when I wanted, I could relax while doing so; I didn't need to fear that my three-year-old would unlock the door and take off (while leaving me exposed yet again.)

2. Browse for food until I found something that I wanted.  Let's be honest, normally we just pack sandwiches and granola bars for the kids when we go out because, well, money. If we decide to be fun and try to find a place to eat, there's not a lot of time to think before the kids get really adamant about where each one would like to go so we need to make a decision quickly.  I spent 20 minutes looking around the market until my stomach decided it wanted a ham and cheese croissant warmed up.


3.  Wait as long as I liked to get my food.  I ordered a delicious grilled cheese sandwich from a food truck with a long line.  I didn't have to worry about having toys in my purse or a bathroom nearby, I only had to enjoy the scenery and listen in to see what each person ordered ahead of me.


4. Walk as far as I wanted.  I didn't have to think "Okay, if one or two kids decided that they were too tired right now, could I make it back carrying them?" "How many kids could I fit in the stroller if I had to right now?" "If someone had diarrhea right now, where is the closest bathroom?" (I think I worry about bathrooms a lot, but if you've been in my shoes, this is a fair concern.)


5. Soak in the details.  Usually I'm occupied keeping a continuous eye (or hand) on the youngest two if we are in an urban area.  Okay, it's not just the younger two, I need to make sure that my six-year-old isn't eating or licking something strange either.  With  my hands in my pocket, I looked up, down and all around.



6. Drive without a map.  It didn't matter how long it took to get to my destination; I knew the general direction and I would get there.  I didn't have to worry about high-pitched screaming and head-locks in the back seat of the van which would require the quickest route to try to maintain my sanity.

7. Sip and savour my morning coffee.  There was no gulping down the second half of a cold cup of coffee. I took my time eating too; my kids engulf their food and once it's done, they're out of control again so Gary and I usually pound ours back, too.

8.  Lay in my hotel bed DURING THE DAY.  For two hours I laid in bed and read a book, surfed Facebook, and ate a dark chocolate bar.  Then I took a bath (first one in three years–don't worry,  I shower daily) and returned to bed to read some more.  Now that is the dream!


9. Ask myself what I wanted to do.  "Hey Self, you want to sit on the bench for a minute and relax? Do it." "Hey Self, you want to go back to bed in the middle of the day? Do it."  "Hey Self, you want to go into that store with a whole bunch of breakables? Do it."  "Hey Self, you want to drive to three different look-outs to just get out for a minute? Do it." What do they call this? Self reflection?  Being selfish? Whatever it was, I loved it. There was no wondering about all the possible factors that could come into play leading to an even larger number of outcomes, it was so simple.


10. Reflect on how awesome my husband is.  Nope--he didn't hack my list. So often I am consumed with everyone's immediate needs that I fail to recognize, or acknowledge, how supportive my partner is.  With all those other tabs closed, I could just think about how blessed I am.  He wasn't sure if I wanted him to visit me while I was away, but I did.  He got a babysitter, drove 45 minutes to spend an hour getting dessert with me, and then drove home.  It was our first real date (other than a Netflix date on the couch) in four months.  Usually we are much better at dating but with the the addition of child  #4, things are going to be different for a while and we're both committed to making our marriage the best that it can be (which is hard work by the way!)


What I've realized is that although it was dreamy to escape for 24 hours, I can add pockets of rest and relaxation to my every day by being intentional and prioritizing it.  Instead of checking Facebook from 8:00-8:30 pm, I can take a shower and climb into bed to read a chapter from my book.  Instead of always encouraging a family walk, I can get out for a walk by myself.   I can afford to book a massage and I can make time for a yoga class.  Taking care of ourselves is unbelievably important, not only in regards to being happier at home, but for our overall health.  I had forgotten how to listen to my body because of all the noise–both in regards to decibels and in the busyness of life. 

Love,
Louise

If you had 24 hours to yourself, what would you do?  Or, maybe you would have liked to have gone with a friend? I'd love to hear your thoughts! PS Isn't Gary so handsome in his leather jacket and scruffy beard?  Maybe don't answer that--could be weird.

17 comments:

  1. I loved the comment about going into the store with breakables! Good for you, Louise. I think I would love to do this too (although I'd probably spend a lot of time reading and then wish I had walked more). And, I did think it was a nice picture of Gary (that seems appropriate to say) ;)

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    1. Terri! The funny thing is I spent an additional 2 hours walking on Robson which I wish I had spent reading :)

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  2. I am so envious of your 24 hours. I just might want this as a Christmas present. What would I do with my time? I would definitely relish some silence.

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    1. Do it!! It's amazing what happens when you have time and energy to think :)

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  3. I'm an extrovert, but the noise still gets to me. I just may have to try a day away by myself. :)

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    1. I'm curious about the introvert/extrovert thing. I have one extroverted sister and I don't think she could do a day on her own....it wouldn't be relaxing for her. Good to know I'm not alone on the noise front! Let me know if you get a day to yourself, friend :)

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  4. I'm so happy for you! I can just imagine the amount of uninterrupted sleep you got :) I like Gary's new hair do!!

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    1. I actually was in mom-mode (you know, hyper-vigilant to sounds) so every time the heat came on I was wide awake! I finally just turned it off.

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    2. I actually was in mom-mode (you know, hyper-vigilant to sounds) so every time the heat came on I was wide awake! I finally just turned it off.

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  5. Anonymous2:27 PM

    This sounds amazing!! I love that you did this. It is so important to take time to yourself. I never realized this before having a child. I find that after I go out for coffee with a friend I come home so rejuvenated. Even just driving by myself is a treat. And I do think that is a really good picture of Gary. I love scruff on my man too :) That is so sweet that he drove 45 minutes to see you. -Brianne

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    1. IT was great, I don't know why I waited so long! I've just never felt the need to get away on my own before but boy, have I been feeling it lately! Hope you are doing well :)

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  6. A day on my own sounds like heaven...this introverted mom of 3 kids just craves silence! All your points made me smile and I'm so glad you got to experience a store with breakables and waiting in line (without anxiety) for a grilled cheese sandwich. I especially love that you talk about finding those moments in the day to day. I found that cutting out T.V. gave me time to do what I enjoy doing/need to do for my selfcare. And today I hid my phone away from myself (yes, I did) and actually got to play the piano for 30 minutes! So, it can be done if we are conscious of it. And one day soon I will get my 24 hours to myself and I can't wait!

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    1. I think we must be quite similar! Oh man, I should hide my phone--so glad you had 30 minutes of piano for yourself. Enjoy those 24 hours when you get them...there's a bit of pressure when it happens :)

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  7. LOUISE!!! This is SOOO awesome! standing ovation applause from over here - well done in making this decision to get away by yourself. i LOVED what you chose to do, how you let it be about YOU since your life is SO much about everyone else. I think we are fairly similar because I would love to do the same things that you did. I love that Gary came out for a dessert date with you - and yes, he's looking very handsome with the leather jacket, scruff and new 'do! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kelly :) I was thinking of choosing a more remote location but was able to get a free stay in Vancouver so it was great (so much great food there!). We are fairly similar in our love for the outdoors, health, photography, books, and food :) Differences? You're musical.

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  8. I was looking forward to your report on your 24 hours away! I understand completely (although it was never "noise" I was getting away from, as my boys were really quite quiet it seems - for me it was more getting a little break from day to day responsibilities) I still enjoy my solitude and will have to adjust when my husband retires! I suggest you plan to do this a couple of times a year and what is even better than 24 hours is 48 hours - that gives you one full day with no coming or going, and a better second night's sleep!

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  9. I think this is hilarious, as I wish I had your life!! I/we can't have kids, and I wish we had a child or two that we could love (and now, we can't foster/adopt). SO glad you enjoyed your time away!!

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