What did I do with my time before my daughter Joan arrived in 2011? I actually find it hard to remember. I know I had a pretty busy social life as working in radio involved a lot of gigs and midweek meet-ups. I was working for two stations at the time too, which meant double the fun.
I must have watched a lot more TV than I do now, because I could stay up beyond 9.30pm. I know I definitely read more books and travelled more. So what about all those things now. I don’t go out nearly as much as I once did, our travels have reduced and I can’t remember the last show I watched an entire series of.
On the reading front, that isn’t Joan’s fault, that is me needing to put the phone down and get off Instagram. But the point I am making is I think we don’t have a clue before having children how much of our “own” time will disappear.
Certainly in the first few months all of it goes. I breastfed Joan and she was such a light eater it meant she needed to be fed every two hours or less for the first few months. I was so tired during that time I once slept with my eyes open and utterly freaked my husband out.
Then as she got older there were more pockets of time to do things for myself again, like watching a full show or reading. But my husband and I weren’t good at making time for just us. The first time I was away from Joan for any length of time was when she was five months old and I was only gone for 12 hours which I found so stressful. Honestly speaking, I could never understand those couples who got away for a weekend when the baby was under a year. I didn’t judge it, it was just something that didn’t appeal to me.
Then a few more years went by and when Joan was three my husband and I went away for our wedding anniversary for one night. I was anxious and not a lot of fun, until my second glass of wine. I was simply out of practice of not having a little person attached to me, which was entirely my fault and no one else.
Joan was five when I finally left her for a few days, but she was at home with my hubby while I went to Amsterdam with friends. I think it only worked for me because I knew she was with him. I still to this day, she is eight now, wouldn’t consider having us both leave the country without her.
I am not saying this is the proper and righteous way to parent, not at all, in fact the opposite. I think as parents we have to maintain quality time for ourselves and as couples. I have friends who have three, four, and five kids and exercise is hugely important to them so they make sure to fit that time in daily, as they should. I have friends who love to travel and are lucky they have caregivers they are happy to leave their kids with, so they travel. After all we were once SOMEONE before we were someone’s parent.
So even though it requires effort I think whatever it was that you once loved to do and no longer do after becoming a parent, find a way to incorporate it into your life again.
Travel is one thing I loved and I am so looking forward to having it as a bigger part of our lives now that Joan is much more independent and at an age where she will get so much from visiting new places.
And as a couple my husband and I have gotten better at making time for a few more dates nights. — even if it is escaping for nachos and beer at the local, it is important time together.
So however you claim back your “my time” as a parent — just do it.