Guilt-Free Downtime

book-759873_640In those first few months of parenthood neither of us knowing what we were doing.  Our ideas and ideals were soon after assaulted by stark realities . . . remember vowing that an Exersaucer would never replace a coffee table? Swearing that you’d never talk about your child’s poo over a romantic dinner? Insisting that your children will never be placated by the television?  Yep.  Those ideals.

We were learning from each other.  Our mid-day phone calls were no longer about the new hot spot where we needed to make dinner reservations, but about discussing projectile vomit and the number of hours a small baby could possibly scream at the top of their lungs before I would need to be committed.  As the years pass we’re still learning from each other and while the themes of these calls have changed the message remains the same:  we are a team that depends on each other to be good parents to our three boys.

In a moment of calm last week, I was catching up on my reading while trying to think up the perfect Father’s Day for my husband (it was a BBQ cover in case you’re curious) when I came across Alyson Schafer’s short list of what dads really want for Father’s Day.

A shocker to no one, I am sure, sex topped the list (I really thought it would be the BBQ cover!) but as I continued it was the last thing on the list that really struck me:

Downtime – Dads know how to do self-care.  It is not them being lazy. Dads have no guilt hitting the golf course, or watching the game on Sunday afternoon.  Moms should watch and learn from their good role modeling instead of berating them about it. Pull up a chair and join dad while he relaxes, or ask dad to reciprocate in kindness by watching the kids while their partner gets a pedicure or something else they enjoy.

Bingo!  I had been wavering about what to write for this week’s post.  I had chosen the theme and yet here I was, stuck.

I could have easily written about how he’s the fun parent, how he can spend hours playing Sorry! without stressing about everything that’s not getting done, or how he makes up nonsensical bedtime stories that the boys beg to hear over and over.

Every minute of my husband’s time is accounted for: work, kids, us and him.  He has no qualms about booking in a squash game even though there’s the laundry!  The groceries!  The over-due library books!

How can he sit on the couch, and actually drift off to sleep, on a Sunday afternoon?  Doesn’t he know that we have to re-organize the linen closet?  Sort the Playmobil from the Lego?  De-clutter the craft cupboard?

He can and he does.  And taking time for myself is something that I have learned from him over the years.  He is always encouraging me to take that course!  Learn that sport!  Go away with friends!  Read that book!

While we were both navigating the new waters of parenthood, we learned how to pin down a child and clip their nails together but somewhere along the way I became skilled at organizing our life into bins and he mastered guilt-free downtime.

Knowing where the hats are will always be important to me, but engaging in self-care is proving to be more beneficial to the wellbeing of our family, my marriage and me.

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8 thoughts on “Guilt-Free Downtime

  1. So true. As a mom I find myself feeling so guilty when I spend an hour without my kids so I can get a manicure. I guess moms have to learn that it’s ok to take care of ourselves without feeling bad.

  2. Reblogged this on The Ralph Lauren and Rusk Juggle and commented:
    Brilliant post! I often find my self using this against my partner. How is it fair that every second of my life is with the children until they go to bed. I make a habit of not leaving them. But he has no issue with creating “his man time” he often breaks away twice a week to play golf, golf takes four hours, we have worked it out with plenty of practice. Then there’s his garden time, he’s only 28 seriously we could get a gardener no problem. I would prefer it. A viable expense, just some small upkeep to increase the family time we get. However I think he likes the quiet time. He thinks he’s Alan Titchmarch and he definitely isn’t! He doesn’t go to to pub very often but it’s more than me. His rebuttal is that well I get to go out and be social all week so it’s not fair. Well sweetheart I never leave without the kids so I’m not getting a break. Not that I want a break I would just love to know how men can be so blasé and guilt free about alone time. In fact I may have to book myself a spa day. Even then I know I’ll be texting every five minutes on how they both are so it’s my own fault.

    • I always love how dads make time for their hobbies! You need to take the lesson from your hubby and indulge in some guilt-free downtime. He sounds like a great guy who will most likely be supportive 🙂

  3. I totally agree with this. My husband is always encouraging me to get my “me” time, but I never seem to take it. (He doesn’t hesitate to take his own “me” time though.) I feel like there is always constantly something to do. The never ending dishes or laundry. Vacuuming. Changing diapers and feeding the baby. If those things aren’t done I can’t relax. This makes it virtually impossible to have relaxing me time. I think an important lesson is learning how to let go, which is a lesson I’m struggling to learn.

    • My husband once pointed out to me that I sometimes get bogged down in “busy” work – things that don’t HAVE to be done – instead of indulging in things that I love. I am trying to be more like that and I have found that I have “let go” some and don’t have to be as anal retentive. (but I still am 😉 )

  4. Hmmm, so true. Husband hung up a hammock chair over the weekend that I have been begging him to do for years. How many times have I used it since? Zero. And that new sewing machine I bought two weeks ago? I just opened it up yesterday so I could read the manual. Pathetic. I need to learn this skill of taking care me as well.

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