Little do we know when we are children how much of a luxury having time is. I remember saying how I couldn’t wait to be older and my grandmother telling me, “you will always be old, but you will only be young once,” something I wish I had appreciated at the moment more. She was trying to tell me that I would one day yearn for time, but mostly to enjoy the moments we have.
So, when the reality struck me that I had two hours to myself, I didn’t know what to do. Both my children were in school. The moment had finally arrived, and there were just shy of two hours until I needed to pick the first one up. What a luxury, ran through my mind. Then moments later, so did the vacuuming, dishes, dirty bathrooms, laundry, shopping, and emails from the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team, the appointments I needed to schedule, the workout I promised myself, and do I smell? Better throw in a shower.
At that moment, the thought of two hours to myself paralyzed me so much, I didn’t prioritize correctly and realized I had blown it.
The next day I was prepared and had a plan for my two hours. I function so much more thoughtfully, efficiently, and better on a schedule, so I patted myself on the back.
The reality was, two hours wasn’t enough to accomplish the things on my list. If anything, it felt like I rushed, so there was less time to do each item. Showering meant I couldn’t do my hair nicely, but I could be clean. Cleaning the house meant I didn’t get the chance to speak with someone I wanted to connect with and haven’t in a long time. Speaking with someone meant I couldn’t run into the store because talking on the phone through the mask is awkward and makes shopping slower.
The two hours I had longed for felt more like an anxiety-inducing rush that I could not properly enjoy.
So the other day it happened. My son had respite. My daughter was super content to play in her room. My husband was working away at his computer, and I realized I had an impromptu possible two hours to myself. Should I clean the bathroom? Maybe. How about fold my daughter’s laundry pushed off to the side of my room? Possibly. No, do something better I pushed myself. Okay, how about a walk? Then I would need to make myself lunch, and I’m hungry. Okay, how about take yourself to lunch! But what if my daughter wants to join? The reality is two hours to myself isn’t as easy as it once was.
Here are a few things I have been working on to help myself when I have impromptu time, which seems to be much of what special needs parenting is. When someone says, “do what you want, I got this,” and in a scramble, you think, “now?!”
Can’t leave your home?
Have a book you are reading. Dive in with your favorite comfort drink or a little snack nearby.
Have a TV series or documentary you want to watch cued up in your list. Don’t have a list? Spend the time watching previews and making a list for the next time.
Do an at-home workout and take a shower – since there isn’t that immediate need to pick up your child from school, maybe even add a deep condition.
Create. From drawing to acting, writing, or even cooking, the intention is something you love and want to do with your time. Not something you have to do for work or an event you are throwing or attending. Unless you love your work, and it doesn’t feel like that at all, kudos for you!
Call a friend. They might be busy, but they might pick up. You never know. The critical part is picking up the phone.
Love a video game? When was the last time you played it? Play it all the time? Try something else. It’s about doing something special, and the same for everything on these lists. Notice I didn’t mention social media…
Can you leave your house?
Take a walk. Can be with the dog, your friend, or can be alone. Get some sun or gaze at the stars if you can get a glimpse. Fresh air is a gift at times.
Take yourself for coffee or lunch. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be at your pace.
Window shop. Don’t just run an errand unless running errands alone feels like a real treat. Then indulge.
Drive your car. Maybe you like to go for a drive, take a ride with no one else and nowhere to go or be for a bit. Who knows, you might find something exciting, beautiful, or interesting.
The point of these suggestions is to make your list, so when you do have that two hours of free time, you don’t waste half of it trying to figure out what to do with it that it’s almost over. Then you give up on the thought of time for yourself. You put yourself last enough. Making an effort to put yourself first is hard. Some of us need more of a push than others.
The reality of the “two hours to myself” that day was it truly was only 30 minutes, which was interrupted then another 30 minutes, but it was great because I knew what I wanted to do. Create this to share with you.