A few weeks ago, I had a child-free, husband-free weekend. It was glorious. Don’t get me wrong, I was delighted to see them when they returned after 48 hours. But that weekend? Just what I needed.
I had started to crave a little bit of child-free time. I love my children and I love being a stay-at-home mum. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Yet there was a niggling feeling that I could do with a break. A bit of a rest. Some time and space. Sometimes living life well means doing lots and lots of stuff, setting big goals and having big fun, but sometimes, it means knowing when to slow down. So I told my husband, and being the hero that he is, he immediately offered to take them away to his parents’ house for two nights so I could have that break.
There was an article going round on social media recently called ‘What we mean when we say we need a break‘, written by a stay-at-home mum of two small children. She states that saying you need a break is not saying you need a holiday, or a spa day, or to put your feet up. It’s simply saying that you need some time each day to be your own person, free from demands and free from having to think about the whereabouts and goings-on of one or more small people. I think this is pretty accurate. Every day when Nick gets home he plays with our children for half an hour or so while I get on with chores uninterrupted. That, I think, is the key. When caring for little people is your primary role, everything gets interrupted, all the time, and that’s pretty draining. Every day, a little bit of space to think freely goes a long way.
What I was after, though, was an opportunity to be really free for a longer period. The thing was that those 30 to 60 minutes each day were only enough time to get the minimum done. To maintain. And I felt I needed a bigger block of time to recuperate, recharge, and reflect. I had also never been alone – truly alone – in our house since before my eldest child was born. Before having children I was regularly totally alone at home. I was craving a taste of that peace, that space, and that freedom.
The 48 hours that I spent alone in our house were a true blessing. The best thing I did with the time was to take myself, my notepad, and my Bible to our local coffee house for a ‘spiritual review’ of sorts. Not needing to get home in time for any meals or naps meant I could sit down and delve in and spend a good few hours thinking, praying, and reflecting on things. I used Proverbs 31 to help me think through my priorities (love God, serve my family, care for my physical health and so on) and to come up with three or four key practical actions (keep going with early morning Bible reading, spend one-on-one time with Sophie, send Nick out for a day off etc) to focus on in the coming months. I also took the opportunity to think through how my children are doing in the key areas of their growth – intellectual, spiritual, physical, social – and to work out how I can most effectively help them with their own particular needs at the moment. It was truly a wonderful time and the key areas that God put on my heart have been great motivators for living well as a stay-at-home mum and wife.
But my weekend was also useful in so many practical ways. I spring cleaned parts of the house that hadn’t been touched since we moved in and which never would with small people under foot. I cleared out and decluttered my wardrobe and another big closet in our house. I baked lots and lots (macarons, iced buns, cupcakes, croissants – therapy!). I went for a run. I had a lovely evening with one of my university friends which was well overdue and totally gorgeous. I got my sewing machine out and made a sling for Sophie to use with her dolls.
When they came back I felt truly refreshed and ready for them. I had had space. I had had quiet. I had had ready meals. And I had had time to think. I really felt set up for the coming weeks and months, with renewed energy and practical strategies for making the most of the time at the stage we’re at as a family. I am so thankful for my amazing husband who gave me the gift of time when I asked for it without any complaint or grumbling. And I am so thankful for the challenges that God’s given me for the months ahead.
Mums, I urge you to get yourself a weekend, a day, or just a few hours of free time. Think. Pray. Rest. Relax. It will do you good.