I am obsessed with time; I’m definitely a clock-watcher. I cannot stand lateness and I struggle with inefficiency in situations when I deem efficiency to be required. But unfortunately this weird fixation creates an always-there low-level sense of unease, of stress and unsettledness.
So, somewhat paradoxically, I crave stillness, and slowness and calm, but often find it difficult to achieve. I struggle to marry up these two parts of me in any way that I can mentally manage.
I’ll get home after a busy day at work and I’ll think “Right. I should have some chilled out time before I tackle dinner”. So I’ll run a bath, light a candle and take my kindle in with me. Bubbles and everything. But then I can’t relax. I just lie there, impatiently, feeling like I ought to be doing something more productive. Nine times out of ten I’ll manage 15 mins and then the restlessness will win. Hair washed, legs shaved then out.
But here’s the thing. I’m actually rubbish at being productive with my time. When I spend a few hours at home I achieve very little. I’ll start on a task, and then get distracted, flitting between things. I’m actually a bit shit at focusing efforts leaving me frustrated at my own inefficiency. Then I might have a strop!
I know people who can do this stillness. My husband is one. He is excellent at doing bugger all. Just chilling and relaxing. I often joke that his default position, unless instructed otherwise, is to go and lie in bed. Not on the bed… actually in bed. Whatever time of day it is. And he’ll watch YouTube mainly, or read his book. Even doze!!! This of course winds me up no end 😂😂 and oftentimes creates some animosity between us when I think he should be doing more around the house but he’s being what I perceive to be lazy. Which it is! But I suppose if I’m honest, the irritation is borne somewhat out of my inability to do the same.
You see I have these strange self-imposed rules. Or maybe they’re not strange? I don’t think it is necessarily reasonable to go and lie in bed during the daytime. That’s just not normal it? Maybe I could get on board with on the bed… but this is in the bed! That’s just dirty behaviour from my point of view…. Or, if I’m busy, he should be busy too! But then how unreasonable do I sound?!
Oh bloody hell, look at me, I’m moaning! I said I wouldn’t do that!!!! Right… moving on.
So, I think that this general need for busy-ness comes from the fact that I grew up in a very busy home. My mum ran a childcare business in our house. There were always lots of young kids around, and members of staff with people coming and going. Making food, making snacks, organising activities, nursery rhymes, school run, the door bell ringing, the phone. It was as if we lived in a little tornado! Even after all of the people had left, and it was just my mum, my brother and me, she would continue with this high-energy way of being. Paperwork, or games nights, or friends round. Busy busy busy.
When I left home I was astonished at the quiet. I felt almost all at sea. That was when the drinking started. Work, pub, home for more drinks, repeat. My husband (then boyfriend) and I always had friends round, or we were out. I’d never just sit and…. what? What is it people do to fill the quiet time? I know, PUB!
Fast forward 18 years…. we’re married, we have 2 beautiful daughters, my husband and I have good careers, a lovely home… it’s been busy. All of my time has been busy! Only now that my kids are grown a bit, I’m finding that they don’t need all of my time any more. When they were little, even if I did find some time to myself, I dutifully filled it with drinking wine!
But here’s the thing… I’ve quit drinking. So now what? I have all of this time, but I don’t know what to do with it. Know how to use it well. I never learned.
So far I’m trying this: I’m reading a lot; blogging (hello there!); watching more movies, with a cup of Yorkshire’s Bedtime Brew tea -love it- or some sparking water or elderflower somethingorother; I’ve tried bathing – not too successfully; and I’ve upped the exercise, swimming regularly. I’m also trying to do puzzles to somehow make me do mindfulness, and I’ve tried meditating but again…. while I have time, it’s not really alone time. I should play the piano more, but for some reason I don’t.
But here’s the ridiculousness of it all… there is also so much that I want to do, and be, and have in my life but it doesn’t all fit in the time that is available. It’s big stuff. I want to travel, retrain and have a new more fulfilling career, move and live in a different warmer country for a while, go back-packing! Of course, none of this I can do with 2 kids in school, a full time job and a mortgage to pay. I watch Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild and marvel at how brave the people he meets on there are to give it all up to follow their dream.
I don’t think I’m that brave. Would I really like to be? I’m not sure.
I listened to an audiobook a few months ago that was something to do with Steven Covey. The chap on there was talking about drawing a timeline of your life and allocating certain things that you want to do to an appropriate time period in your life. But life isn’t long enough, like the days aren’t long enough. The nights aren’t long enough. Even now, I’m sat here typing in bed… but I really should go to sleep as I have to be up in the morning on the treadmill that is life.
But do you know what? Generally, when I find myself with a period of ‘time’ available, I’m so overwhelmed that do you know what I do with it….? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not nothing in the way a calm, relaxed person might doing nothing. I fret, and feel anxious that I’m not able to make the most of the time, use it in a valuable way, because it’s so precious. And so it is wasted.
I’m trying to get the hang of this new life with all of this time. I think I need to recognise that this will have to be a year of adjustment. Getting used to not drinking, to having more time, and to work on my effectiveness. I need to learn how to use my time well. To find balance.
Apologies if this one’s been a bit rambling… I’m getting used to blogging too!