Alone Time? Me? No Way!!

A few weeks ago I was feeling down.  It had been one of those mornings.  I was physically and spiritually worn out.  Wolf, in her peculiar way of knowing my moods, e-mailed me and asked me how I was doing.  She also suggested that I click over to her blog.  I did and read a thought-provoking piece entitled Do you know your body’s rhythms? While reading, I puzzled over how Wolf knew what I needed to hear that morning.  I also thought about how her post, though fabulous, could not apply to me.  I don’t have the time to figure out my body’s rhythms.

Since I was feeling whiny, I asked Wolf how I can follow her advice.  She, in her usual sage manner, wrote back with an amazing comment.  Reading her words inspired me.  I instantly e-mailed her and asked if I could re-post her comment on my blog.  She not only said yes, but sent it to me as a whole new post.  Yes, she is incredible.

For any woman/man who is feeling tired, worn out, and just plumb tuckered, Wolf has provided us with an amazing array of remedies.  Especially for those of us who are short on cash.

In order to give her post all the attention it deserves, I am breaking it up into 2 different segments.  Think of it like a cliff hanger. I love a book with good cliff hangers.

Without further ado, please welcome Wolf of Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy.

How to get a moment alone (and what to do with it once you get it) Part 1

Love your family, but enough is enough?

Losing your sanity? Don’t want to admit it? Sorry. I have no 12-step program, no quick fix, and not even a chocolate giveaway to take your mind off things. But I will tell you you’re in good company. The reality for most mothers, unless you have help – and I mean real help – there is never enough of you to go around. It’s true for stay-at-home-moms, for work-outside-the-home moms, for do-it-all-moms, and all the other variations of motherhood whose classifications don’t matter whatsoever.

And if your budget looks anything like mine (the UnBudget), a trip to the day spa (with pricey sitter at home) just isn’t in the cards.

Maybe you’re married and the husband works extra hours, or goes to school at night. Maybe you’re a single mom with little to no time off (for misbehavior). Whatever the scenario, don’t feel guilty for wanting a break. You need one. Consider it a sign of mental health.

But what do you do when you’re constrained by lack of money or help? No bucks for a sitter. No family to assist. Now what? Run away from home? Most of us have considered it at one time or another. But shhhhhh. Don’t admit it to the kids.

Sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and thanks for the angels

Say what? Yep. I believe in sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and angels, as follows:

  • Network (the “it takes a village” concept)
  • Exchange of services (good old fashioned barter)
  • Angels (they’re everywhere, and they look like us)

A support network is essential. If you’ve lost yours following a relocation or divorce, do whatever you can to rebuild. (Some ideas follow.) Simply put – you need people to help give you relief. A network of trusted “villagers” – other parents, teachers, students, neighbors.

Remember barter? You give me this, I’ll give you that? According to some sources, barter systems date back to 6,000 BC. Long before there was money, goods and services were exchanged. My furs for your perfume. And at an even more basic level – your hunting and fishing for my giving birth (not to mention, fabulous cave painting). Believe me, you’ve got skills that someone can use, and they’ve got skills that you can use. Barter!

As for angels, I’m not channeling Travolta in wings, nor the Sistine Chapel. Not even the backers of Broadway musicals. I’m talking about everyday people who are kind and give, for no reason except that it feels good, it’s helpful, and they can. The fact is – we all can. We can be angels for each other, perhaps by listening when someone needs an ear, or by helping a stranger who is lost. Perhaps in that “exchange of services” way I just mentioned.

I hope I’ve been an angel in my own way, and I’ve certainly run into my share in recent years. Angels are not defined by age or gender, by religion or even spirituality. They simply understand that we are a human community. And when they see someone who needs help, if they can, they help.

Haven’t you been an angel? I’m guessing the answer is yes, if you think about it. And if you’ve been on the receiving end, you pass it along when you are able.

Specifics

Just so you know where I fit in this picture (yes, this is the part where I establish my credentials), I am the mother of two teen sons, now 18 and 17. I was technically married for many years. My (then) husband traveled, a great deal, and we had no family in the area. I worked a full-time job (close to home), then a full-time job from a home office while being “full-time mom” to my boys. Helping other mothers with pickups and free time is the stuff that gets you through. I was often the “helper,” for many years.

Following divorce, layoff, and a move, my former network fell apart. Things got challenging very quickly, and frankly, I was in the robotic zone for months (years?) as I scrapped for project and freelance clients, raised my kids, and tried to keep myself semi-sane and semi-healthy. Somehow, I thought I ought to be able to do it all – if I just tried hard enough. Listen up, please. It’s not possible. No one can do it all alone. Furthermore, I don’t believe we are meant to. And nor is it the best thing for our kids.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Alone Time? Me? No Way!!

  1. Wolfie is so wise, isn’t she? Thanks for sharing her words with us. They will come in handy while I’m snowbound with two excited minxes today!

    • TKW, you always make me smile. “Excited minxes.” Eeesh. I refer to my sons as devil children, but always with a smile.

      Stay tuned for tomorrow. That’s where all the specific suggestions are. (That Amber – she is good with a cliffhanger!!)

      🙂

  2. “Listen up, please. It’s not possible. No one can do it all alone. Furthermore, I don’t believe we are meant to. And nor is it the best thing for our kids.”

    I’m pretty sure the above words should be in bold.

    Working and mothering and home-keeping and husband-time-making…it all exhausts me. Like many I feel like I have too much on my plate and I am excelling at nothing, only just surviving. I’m tired of feeling like a failure. I’m tired of prioritizing. I’m tired of always thinking that my best isn’t good enough.

    So would someone please come make dinner for me tonight? It would make the day a bit more enjoyable to know that that big-little thing is taken care of. 🙂

  3. Love this post. Thanks for sharing. I hope I can look for opportunities to help others as well!

  4. Wolf is amazingly wise, isn’t she?

  5. Wonderful post! I definitely don’t think we can do it all by ourselves. My husband makes it possible for me (not to do it ALL but to do what is important to me), but I know we are very lucky and that it may not always be this way.

  6. Brilliant! Isn’t it amazing in the blogging world how people we read will write about exactly what we needed to read on a given day? Not just coincidence!

    • Hi Kimberly. I’ve also found that sometimes on exactly the day I need something most, it’s right there – on one of my favorite blogs. I love it. It’s sort of a mysterious convergence of forces. A little bit of magic. Who would’ve thought?

  7. Eva

    Oh, I’m so glad you’re sharing this. So helpful! Not only the specifics about how to get alone time, but the reminder that we all need a break.

    • Eva – you said a mouthful. Kids or no kids, people need a break. One of the advantages I’ve had in my life is living in France, on more than one occasion. And my kids are half European as well. In other countries, 5 and 6 weeks of vacation a year, in addition to national holidays is the norm. It is recognized that people will burn out, and that families need time together.

      I think one of our greatest struggles in this country is the fact that when you move from employer to employer (if you are so lucky), each time, you are reset to zero (or at best, 2 weeks) when it comes to vacation.

      When will our society realize that one of the reasons families have so many problems is because we’re all exhausted? We need time together, time away, time to breathe, and time enough to truly unwind. I wonder what that might do for our overall mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being.

  8. Eva

    PS – I would totally babysit your kids if I lived anywhere near you!

  9. unabridgedgirl

    Loved this post, Amber, and glad that Wolf let you post this, too! I’m not married or a mother, but sometimes I need a break as well. Also, I would totally help you out if I could, so you could have alone time!

    • Kenzie, EVERYONE needs a break. I believe you are busy with work and school, thus you need MENTAL and PHYSICAL breaks. I really hope today’s suggestions and yesterday’s post help you find those breaks. : )

  10. I echo the sentiments of other commenters, my dear Wolf you are a very wise lady and I’m so glad you share with us. This post comes a good time, on a day when I just feel profoundly tired and want to curl in a ball and cry. But, I’ll trudge on, pick up my boys from care, head home and do the dinner hour madness on my own (why do I allow that to happen) and try to find some sanity late in the day. I’m pretty good at setting aside time for my self, the problem is I usually wait until a majority of things are done, so that time comes only when I am tired and can’t enjoy it as I would hope. I’m inspired after reading this to find me an angel or two. I think I need one just now.

  11. It’s funny the things that stick with you. I read an article in a waiting room once and I remember nothing about it except that the author’s mother refused to feel guilty for working. This set the tone for pride and prioritizing for the rest of the author’s life, and what I took from that is to not feel guilty for doing what needs to be done – whether it be working, taking a break, or whatever.

    To put it another way – when Mom’s not happy, no one is. Happy Mom = Happy Family.

  12. So true. We surely have our limits. And there are angels everywhere.

    But there is a real power in admitting that we cannot do everything.

  13. Pingback: I Can Find Alone Time! « Making the Moments Count

  14. How on earth did I miss this post yesterday, Amber and BLW? I know. Harried and hurried I never got to everything I wanted to get to.

    Do I love Wolfie? Who lends a helping hand right here on our village of the Internet to a lovely young mom like Amber? Who is showing us exactly how to be an angel?