I really envy those people who have a hobby, an interest. You know the type.. the glossy one’s, they have the fresh faces, sparkling eyes and talk passionately about their near death experiences, when their pick axe broke on the glacier they were climbing in Kathmandu. All the while their hair looks like they’ve just walked straight out of the hair salon, and their nails have just a hint of blush lacquer, so they look healthy but not “too” done. The type, who seem to cram 48 hours into 24 – always on the go, always doing, always.
My brain isn’t wired like that. However many Marie Kondo books I read on decluttering and organising my home, the reality is living with 3 daughters a husband and a dog, any “system” that I put in place lasts on average no longer than 2 days at best. Everyone forgets and reverts to leaving stuff on the stairs, so I give up and the chaos resumes.
Psychologists, Therapists and Well-being magazines all applaud the benefits of spending time recharging, quality “Me” time. And although I fundamentally agree with them it all feels so unachievable, so unrealistic. I’m not sure what kind of life they’re living – the same one where they eat avocado and smoked salmon on Rye bread for breakfast, no doubt. My world is far less sophisticated and much more ordinary. I’m lucky if I grab a slice of toast and a mug of tea before dashing off to start my day.
For me “Me” time isn’t practising meditation or Hot Yoga, it isn’t creating an Artistic Masterpiece or being the next Contender for Bake Off – its far more mundane and much less energetic. I find that I run out of steam far sooner than my peers. My life feels to full, too busy, too irregular to allow me the headspace for “Me” time that is so contrived. And so my “Me” time is mostly me wearing my oldest baggiest PJ’s, sporting a greasy “bed-head” and belonging to the clan of the “great unwashed”. It involves watching back-to-back TV – Lorraine, Homes under the Hammer, This Morning and Loose Women lunching on a pot noodle, cheese and onion crisps and a kit-kat, washed down with lots more tea. Shamefully but truthfully, I admit to throwing too many sickie’s and I have cancelled plans with friends just so I can tuck myself under a blanket and lounge on the sofa all day. I am in complete blissful sloth mode – even opening the door to the DPD driver is waaaay more effort that I can muster.
I’m not ALWAYS like this… on my brave days when I’m feeling empowered to become more focussed I have gone in search of finding a “Me” time that has more meaning and more direction, more grown-up. I have been rather unsuccessful in my quest as the list of “Me” time fails is ridiculously long – I have stumbled from one thing to another in search of something that makes me feel recharged without making me more anxious, flustered or self-loathing and have yet to find anything that beats the sofa. Golf, Dancing, Zumba, Hula Hooping to name a few and the dreaded Gym ALL short lived, none managing to capture my attention for any length of time. Somehow my day-to-day life didn’t fit around any of them at all. I have the attention time of a gnat which really doesn’t help when I’m searching for more socially acceptable “Me” time activities combined with my lack of motivation lots of potentials have fallen wayside before the third week.
Now aged 50, I have finally given up searching – it’s taken the depths of despair and sadness for me to finally accept me as me and give myself permission to be ok with my version of me and my “Me” time. I now refuse to feel guilty about the mess and clutter, the build-up of chores, the dirty laundry, the mountain of ironing and the un made dinner – it can all remain undone until I am back to “me”. Today the family can eat Maccies again for tea, they can wear unironed shirts, and they can step over the pile of washing. Because when I’ve had my “Me” time I will be back on form and life at full pace will resume. The thoughts in my head that overwhelmed me will be pushed back and I will feel ready to fight another day, until the next time…
I don’t have answers for everyone; I only know what works for me. I am not judging you, you run marathons if that helps you – I will be at the finish line cheering you on if it doesn’t clash with a “Me” day. But, I hope that if you take anything away from this, know that your version of “Me” time is absolutely the perfect fit for “You” and that it is enough – do what you need to do, allow yourself to be.
Ann Marie x