I signed Ishita up for Gymnastics this year. Because the usual arts and craft and "cooking" did not cut it. She has far too much energy for it. The drawback is that sports classes usually last about one hour, and I'm out the door at 8.30am to make it to the 9am practice, only to pick her up around 10. No time to go home, not much open in the vicinity of the Gym class. Those of my friends who enrolled their kids for that class all warned me about the fact it is a pain to kill time. Parents aren't allowed to sit in the school during that time, for obvious reasons I perfectly understand: it distract the kids. But, I refused to let that get to me, and 2 weeks into it, I don't find it as much a pain as people told me it would be.
First, there are a few nice and green parks around. And, while it is too hot to excersise, it is perfectly fine to sit on a bench in the shade to read a book or a magazine. Then, there is the local supermarket. One of the few things that are open at that time of the day. Perfect to get a few groceries, and a snack before heading to the park to chill for a little while. And last but not least, some of the coffee shops start opening around that time. Starbucks being the one I favour.
In this one hour I have to myself, that place offers me low volume music that will not grate my nerves (my introverted self prefers quiet over noisy). Free wifi, good beverage and indulgent snacks on a day I feel to actually eat something. This is however not a cheap place, which is why I am not hanging there daily. What I discovered though...or rather rediscovered, is the pleasure of having a cup of tea without being disturbed, and without feeling tempted to do anything beside enjoying the moment. You see, when you are a mom, you are switched on in all business mode from the instant the kids wake up, and only really switch off after you yourself go to bed. An experience I have made and which compare to the ones of all my friends. SAHM are on duty full time. It changes us in many ways.
One of these ways being to be unable to really sit still in our own home, even when the kids are in school. For me, and all of my friend it usually goes like this on a "break" at home: fix a cup of tea, sit down only to step on a toy, which result into tidying up the kids room, remembering a batch of laundry, writing a shopping list, and possibly answering the door a couple of times...cup of tea goes half cold, and the break that was supposed to be relaxing end up not being. Office goers have a canteen, or a tea stall near their premises to go to. For a SAHM, the home is her workplace, which means drinking a cup of tea home is as relaxing as doing it at your desk in office. When we usually go out for coffee, it often include the kids, and the outting becomes a business trip, with the mom making sure the kids eat without making a mess or disturbing the other coffee drinkers in the place. If you go with friends along with the kids it means having to interrupt your grown up discussion every two words.
The one hour break I get is short, but this is the only one hour I get a day, and unlike the 2.5 I was getting during the academic year, I can't cram it with last minute clean up, laundry, cooking, speedy email checking, meal planning and on a good day some blogging. Nope, being out of the house, I just can't even be tempted to just spend a "few minutes" clearing these dishes and dusting the bookshelves. This is a one hour break during which I actually have no other options but do something I actually like doing without feeling any guilt. It's me, my cup and maybe my tablet or a notebook. It is a time I don't even have to do small talk, or have people in my face. It is one hour I can spend just sitting there looking in my cup enjoying the moment without distraction.
One evening last week, I was even talking with some of my friends about it in the park, SAHM as well as one working from home dad (yes a father working from home to be able to take care of the kids as well). We all related, we all experienced that bliss of finally having that moment you can disconnect. One of my friend even confessed of heading down the street from our place to the tiny cafe coffee days while her daughters were at school, just to not be tempted to tackle household chores and get a real timeout. The first time she did it felt like an epiphany, the very same I made in the past 15 days.
So while I wished Ishita's Summer camp was longer than one hour, I realised that the fact it is that short is more of a blessing than the curse it was made out to be by those who attempted before me. Even if Starbucks on a daily basis isn't a reasonable option. sitting on a park bench while off duty and not having to keep an eye on the kids while they play is equally blissful.