I had such a huge response to my post about being a better mum tomorrow that I’ve realised that mummy guilt really is endemic these days.
We are all under so much pressure to keep up with work, looking after the house, running children around, trying to keep fit and so many other responsibilities that none of us feel that we have enough time to dedicate to our children.
And yet, this isn’t just a problem for parents. We all seem to feel under some sort of pressure from society to live a perfect lifestyle. The result is that our time becomes increasingly precious and we no longer have time for other people.
I’m a great example. I can’t even remember the last time I spoke to most of my friends and it’s a good few months since I saw my Granddad.
So this Christmas, I want to take back my time. I doubt I’ll manage a whole day without working. I know I won’t get to a point where I can find the time to volunteer, much as I would love to.
But I do aim to spend as much good quality time with my family as possible over the festive period. These are the ways I’m going to take back my time.
1. Put things in perspective
My husband’s accident really made us stop and think about what’s important. We are now surviving on less money because I have so little time on my hands. This has just made us realise that a high percentage of our spending was unnecessary.
The girls won’t be receiving extravagant gifts for Christmas. In fact, they are just getting one big gift and they’re sharing it. They won’t mind, in fact I know they’re going to love it. I won’t have worked all the hours under the sun to afford it either.
2. Buy smarter
This year, we’ve bought our presents early. I’ve also bought smaller gifts than usual, bought things from charity shops where appropriate and done secret Santa with my brother and sisters instead of buying a gift for everyone.
This means that I won’t be having to knuckle down quite so hard to get some money coming in over the Christmas period. I know that having time to give to people is much more important.
When I used to work in an office, I always had my work perfectly under control. It was rarely tidy, but I knew what I had to do and when. I’ve always worked in jobs that needed me to be flexible and open to spontaneity but having a fluid schedule was always helpful.
Now I freelance from home, I am slowly learning to employ the same methods to keep my time under control. It’s amazing how much more you can do in blocks of time rather than grabbing a bit of time here and there and thinking about everything else you should be doing.
I now schedule my blog posts, writing them on a Monday and Tuesday. I then do my freelance work Wednesday to Sunday. Obviously an established client needs me to vary this, I’m happy to do so. I then take my two blogging days at a different time.
I love exercise, it’s one of two things keeping me sane at the moment – the other being my dogs. I was supposed to be doing a half-Ironman next year so I’d started to step up the training in September.
When events conspired against me, cycling and running went out of the window. But I still had the dogs to look after.
Thankfully, Wagglepets quite literally saved the day by taking care of everything my dogs need – all I need to do is exercise them.
So to solve all my problems, we run. It’s not far or fast but I love it more than ever. And it’s so much quicker than walking the same distance so I’m saving time.
5. Do not disturb
I’ve started to turn my phone onto “Do not disturb” mode pretty much all the time. Important emails, texts and telephone calls still come through but I get no app notifications, junk emails or social media interactions interrupting me.
This has given me both more time to focus on work and the ability to switch off when I’m with my children. In every possible way, I’m onto a winner.
Why give the gift of time?
I’ll let you in to a little secret. I know what it feels like to be lonely. I’m never on my own, I love my children dearly and I have a great relationship with my husband. But that doesn’t stop me from missing the time I used to spend with my friends.
I miss nights out, lunches, shopping trips, chats over coffee, putting the world to rights. I miss having a shoulder to cry on and someone to vent to.
So how much worse would it be if I was actually on my own?
Years ago, I walked past a restaurant with the guy I was seeing at the time. There was an old lady sat in the window eating dinner alone. I was surprised how much seeing this lady affected my then boyfriend. I guess we all fear being alone.
Many charities struggle at this time of year. More people ask for help as they’re cold, hungry or just lonely. Thousands of dogs are dumped at shelters and there are not enough volunteers to walk them all.
I know full well that clearing time in my schedule to do some volunteering would be the best Christmas gift ever.
Please note, I was compensated for including some of the links in this post. However, views, opinions, ideas, editorial control, lack of time and dogs are all my own.