It’s always yoga, isn’t it?
Any time you tell someone you’re feeling a bit stressed – or down, or anxious, or anything other than awesome, basically – the answer is to do some yoga. Or take a long walk, Or a hot bath.
It never fails: yoga, long walks, bubble baths – they’re like the holy trinity of self-care, aren’t they? It really doesn’t matter what’s troubling you, I can practically guarantee that someone will suggest at least one of them as the cure to everything – which is honestly quite surprising to me, really, because WHO HAS THE TIME FOR THOSE THINGS? No, seriously, WHO?
Not this girl, anyway, that’s for sure. Because I run a business from home, whilst also raising a toddler, so if I’m stressed, chances are it’s because I have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. And if I don’t have time to style my hair or my drink my coffee while it’s still hot, I definitely don’t have time for freakin’ yoga, do I? Even so, I honestly can’t count the times I’ve mentioned being stressed, and someone has advised me to have a spa day. A SPA DAY. I mean, I guess there must be some people in the world who are able to just drop everything they’re juggling, and head to the spa, but if I was able to just forget about all of the things that make me stressed for an entire day, I… well, I wouldn’t be stressed in the first place, would I?
But I am stressed. Very, very stressed. And the fact is, even if I did somehow manage to find the time for it, something like yoga would only make me even more stressed. Ditto the hot baths and the long walks: all they are to me, you see, are blocks of time when I’m forced to do nothing but think. And think some more. And become more and more anxious about all of the things I could be doing with my time, rather than sitting in the bath, or trudging through the rain on my own. Things like:
Cleaning my house
Emptying the laundry basket
Clearing my inbox
Earning a living*
Catching up with life admin
GETTING SHIT DONE, in other words.
All of these things are what represent “self care” to me. They may not be what people typically think of as self-care – mostly because there’s no yoga or mindfulness on that list – but, nevertheless, these are the things that make me feel better about myself. These are the things that make me instantly less anxious, and, ever since Max was born, and we were pitched head-first into parenthood, these are the things that have been getting increasingly neglected.
It’s embarrassing to admit it, because I know Other People have to deal with all of the same things I do – work, parenting, home life, etc – but I feel like I’ve been permanently stressed for 21 months now, and it’s almost totally because of the complete lack of time that parenthood has created, combined with the fact that I’m trying to juggle full-time working from home with full-time parenting. As I said to Terry a couple of weeks ago, I honestly feel like I can’t even think straight any more, because of all of the STUFF swirling around in my brain – stuff that would drown out absolutely everything else if I were to take myself off on a long walk, say, where I had nothing else to do but think about it all.
I feel like I’ve been permanently stressed for 21 months now,
Take yesterday, for instance. Yesterday my ‘To Do’ list was so long that I couldn’t sleep the night before, because I was so busy trying to convince myself not to just get up and make a start on it. When I DID get up, though, you know what I did all day? I sat on the floor, pushing toy cars around, while the To Do list remained un-done. It was almost like yoga, now I come to think of it: I mean, I was on the floor, I was pretty uncomfortable, I was stressed out of my mind at the thought of all of the things I could be doing instead… Yup, sounds like yoga to me! I mean, I could literally SEE the dishwasher that needed emptying, and the floors that hadn’t been cleaned in forever. As I sat there, I could hear my phone pinging with messages from clients, and the washing machine beeping to tell me it had ended its cycle, and there was yet another load of laundry to deal with.
What I couldn’t do, however, was actually deal with any of it.
Before I had Max, this situation would’ve been totally unimaginable to me: in fact, I’m guessing it’s hard to understand even for some people who DO have children, but who still manage to do the laundry, and empty the dishwasher, and even earn a living from home, just like I do. Why can’t I just get up off the floor and go and deal with all of the things that need dealt with, after all?
Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. All I can tell you is that Max has never been the kind of child who’ll sit quietly playing on his own: he wants you to play WITH him, and, when he’s awake, he requires 100% of your attention, 100% of the time. Over the past 22 months, we’ve tried everything we can think of (Which has mostly involved buying different toys and games that we hope might occupy him on his own for even just a few minutes…) to try to buy ourselves a little extra time each day, but so far absolutely nothing has worked, (Well, nothing other than TV, anyway, which works a little TOO well, to be honest, and gives me a whole new set of things to worry about: like, will the Parenting Police come knocking when they hear that we let him watch Blippi again today, and how much damage did that episode of Mother Goose Club do him, really?), which means that everything I have to do has to be done either when he’s asleep, or when he’s with his grandparents, twice per week. Oh, and he recently dropped down to just one nap per day, too, which means I have time to shower OR have lunch every day, but not both. Yay!
I’m not going to lie: I’m really struggling. I’m almost scared to admit it, because, like I say, Other People seem to manage just fine – and with more than one kid, too. Are they really, though? Because, the fact is, on the surface, it probably seems like I’m coping just fine, too – when, actually, I’m stressed out of my mind. Being forced to sit still and ignore all of the things that desperately need to be done is like a form of torture to me (Which gets worse when I have to do that all day, and then spring into action once Max is in bed, and frantically try to cram a full day’s work and housekeeping into the couple of hours that are available to me…) – and that’s why I don’t do yoga – or any of the other things that force me to spend time being even LESS productive than I already am.
Being forced to sit still and ignore all of the things that desperately need to be done is like a form of torture to me
It’s not that I don’t have any downtime – it’s just that, when I DO, I need it to occupy my mind, rather than leaving it free to wander, and keep circling back to the guilt. It’s why, right now my idea of “self care” involves the ultimate luxury: time to be productive – to clean my house, and answer my emails, and get shit done. Because, when my house is clean, and my To Do list is empty (Well, empty-ish: I don’t think it’s been actually empty since around 1991, but you know what I mean…) I feel like I can breathe again. It’s the only time I can actually hear myself think. and the only time I feel myself.
So, if I tell you I’m feeling anxious, please don’t tell me to do yoga: I’m much too stressed for that…
(*For those who don’t know, I make a living from blogging, and work from home, so it’s not just cleaning and showering I’m not able to do right now – I’m also finding it almost impossible to do my job, which means I’m earning significantly less money than normal. If it was just random chores that weren’t getting done, I’d be able to deal with that, but not being able to earn a living is obviously much more serious, and a huge source of stress.)