Quite unexpectedly, I have manged to secure myself two free hours. Or put another way, two hours without the children. How this happened, I'm not quite sure, although with Grandparents around these sorts of things are always possibilities, but when I realised it had happened I even considered doing a little jump in the air. Instead, I did what I always do when I sense the tiniest prospect of relaxation. I put the kettle on and made myself a cup of tea. What normally happens when I have even the smallest amount of time to myself is that I tend to waste it. I enjoy my cup of tea so much that I have to have another straight afterwards. It's like small biscuits or short chapters in books, or really cheap clothes. You think that just one more won't make a difference until before you realise you've eaten the whole packet, or read half the book and it's two o'clock in the morning, or bought more clothes than you need just because they were a bargain and you've spent more than you would have done if they'd been expensive. Or in my case with the cup of tea, I savour the moment too long and before I've had a chance to do anything constructive, Edie's woken up, or the time has come to pick Renée up from school, or the phone has rung and it's someone I have to speak to.
So today, with my two free hours stretching ahead of me like, well two free hours, I'm going to try to make the most of it. But then it's got me thinking about what 'making the most of it' means for a parent. Does 'making the most of it' mean doing the jobs that you would be doing anyway even if the children were around, like putting a wash on, or hanging up clothes, or tidying the house, or stacking the dishwasher, or does 'making the most of it' mean finishing all the jobs which are left undone week after week - like painting the circle of grey filler on the dining room ceiling and while the paint is out covering over Renée's doodle on the study wall, not to mention the other scribbles which Edie has made on the sitting room wall, and come to think of it her bedroom wall as well, or catching up on e-mails which are, literally, months out of date, or making those phone calls which have been put off because each one is bound to take at least an hour (excessive I know, but when you leave conversations too long there's so much more to catch up on), or sorting out the girls' clothes into items which actually fit them because they're growing so quickly that I struggle to keep up with their new clothes and all the old ones are taking up so much space that I can hardly close their drawers. Would doing these jobs be making the most of two free hours? I'm not so sure.
For me, a woman who's favourite pastime is doing absolutely nothing, 'making the most of two free hours' is curling up on the sofa with a good book, or turning on the stereo and listening to an album that I haven't heard for months, or even turning on the television and watching something other than Dora or Peppa Pig. Just to be able to take a big deep breath and let my shoulders relax without hearing 'Mummy I've just spilt my drink everywhere', or 'Mummy caca' (that's French for poo poo and is Edie's favourite word), is the most exciting treat I can give myself. And the best thing about today is that I'm not actually at home. We're still in Norfolk on our half-term holidays, so all the jobs that I would normally be doing on a daily basis as well as all the jobs left undone are not applicable, which is even better because I don't even have to feel guilty about not doing them. So without further ado and procrastination, I am going to leave the computer and make the most of my two free hours. Although, I might just have one more cup of tea while I decide what to do.
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