As a single parent with three young kids to care for, I have more commitments than hours in the day. Most days I struggle to find space for myself.
Even the simple act of going to the toilet or showering is not sacred from interruptions or requests — usually to play referee to the latest falling out.
To enable me to cope better with the constant demands I would love to take up yoga, or meditation, or any one of a half dozen amazing hobbies that my friends are addicted to. My problem is that all of these take time—or at least this is what I tell myself.
How can I practice yoga without first taking the time to learn? Maybe I could go somewhere and be taught but then I would have to buy all the gear and pay for classes.
At some point I will realise that there is a way forward to doing any one, or all, of these activities but for now all the blocks in my mind remain and keep me from doing just that.
The one thing that I can do, and am committed to doing on a daily basis, is to finding the time to sit. Yes, the mere act of sitting for 10 minutes to think of nothing and everything at the same time is my achievable and treasured daily ritual.
On weekdays I get up in the mornings and rush around the house. I help my children to get ready. I check that they are all fed and clean, that the relevant school books, projects and PE kits are packed and then we race out the door. I do three different school runs which takes a combined 1 1/2 hours each morning. After dropping my youngest off to her pre-school that is situated in the local park I buy myself three hours of hands free time.
To be clear, this hands free time is not my own. This is the time within which I can race around to buy groceries and pay bills, or I can go home to catch up on dishes, washing and cleaning. Some days I think “screw it” and phone a friend from my car instead and arrange to go for coffee or just sit in the car and enjoy being able to chat.
But for the most part, I am responsible with this time, not always because I want to be but because I must. When there is no other adult to tag in and there are three little people relying on you to get the job done you learn to choose your self-indulgent days wisely.
For the last few months however I have made it a practice to take 10 minutes for myself and just sit. When the weather is nice my favourite place to sit is in the park that my youngest daughter’s pre-school is situated. It is not an affluent area, nor is it a particularly picturesque park but for a small town girl who now lives in a large city it brings me a sense of space and peace that is not often afforded.
I sit and I take in my surroundings, the trees and the grass. I listen to the birds whilst my thoughts play quietly in the background. It is hard to explain what I think of when I sit because it is a mixture of nothing and everything at the same time. Sometimes when the sun is shining I simply close my eyes and feel the warmth on my face and imagine that it is charging my soul at the same time.
When the weather is less agreeable I sit in my car, or on my bed, or on my couch and look out the window. It is low maintenance and it is good.
I realise that some people might find this pathetic—if they knew how much joy just sitting bought me they may also judge me and my life harshly. However, I suspect that there are also parents out there who understand what it is to long for just five minutes of peace and who will understand what I am on about when I express joy in taking twice that amount of time for myself.
There may also be a few adults that “get it” and are nodding away.
All I can tell you is that in these 10 minutes I find a way to ground myself and I am hooked. This simple ritual enables me to cope much better when a small person barges into the bathroom and insists on narrating, questioning and encouraging my every move and in many other situations that my day may bring.
If you don’t already have a ritual and like me have created roadblocks for the more popular ones then I invite you to try mine.
10 minutes of sitting a day.
What could be easier than that?
Author: Vanessa Marjoribanks
Apprentice Editor: Bere Blissenbach
Image: Author’s own