Themed Weekend: Free Time

tw-free-time"Free Time" is different when you are a mom.

I reflect on my pre-baby days with a bit of amusement. I remember feeling so busy in those days, like my days were overfilled to the brim.

But now - I laugh at how much time I really did have. I had time to read novels and go to the movies and spend hours in the bookstore. I had time each day TO MYSELF: time to take a shower, to listen to the radio in my car, to browse the cards at Hallmark for the "perfect" card for a friend.

Things are different now. My free time is "scattered," disjointed, rare. Stolen moments of alone time are treasured. Only a mom can understand that a trip to the post office (sans kids) or a hot shower after a long day is almost equivalent to a beach vacation in Jamaica...almost.

The funny thing is that I don't really need/want much "free time." Most of the time, I am blissfully content in my chaotic little world of building blocks, blowing bubbles, eating Cheerios, singing the alphabet song, and making dinner with a little "helper" by my side. The truth is that I LIKE to be home with my girls and my husband.

That said,  sometimes it's nice to be by myself.

Sometimes its good to be able to hear myself think, to not have a 2-year-old saying, "build a tower with me, mama!" or "I want a snack!" or "I need to go potty!"

Sometimes I just want to SCREAM at the end of a crazy day, "I want just 10 minutes without anybody attached to me!"

In those few, fleeting moments, you'll usually find me doing one of these five things:

runI run. Something about the fresh air, the pumping of my lungs, the beating of my heart, the monotonous rhythm of my shoes hitting the pavement...refreshes me.

writeI write. For me, writing isn't optional. Writing is like breathing. Without it, I feel breathless and blue. So. I write blog posts. I write thank you cards. I write to-do lists. I write book proposals. Sometimes I abruptly jump out of bed at three in the morning to jot down a phrase, an idea (which never fails to startle my husband...but I think he's getting used to it).

take picturesI take pictures. The art of photography is much like writing a novel. It involves the same skill set: finding the best and most creative way to capture personalities, to create backdrops, and to bring every day experiences to life. 

readI read. Back in my pre-baby days, I devoured books. Sometimes I read a book a day. Or, at the every least, a book every week. Post-baby, I still have a few books on my nightstand at all times, but I pitter-patter through them at a slower pace - gobbling up the text while I'm nursing the baby or right before bed. 

workI work. Can working be considered a hobby? For me, it most certainly is. I am blessed to have two "jobs" (this blog and a 10-hour work-from-home contract with the local school district) that I really love. It's nice when you love your job so much that you would do it even if you didn't get paid for it...like being a mom, for example.

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The ironic thing about "free time" is that - as soon as I'm away - as soon as I finally get what I ask for - I find myself missing the little voices. I find myself wondering what my 2-year-old is doing, picturing my 12-week-old's perfect gummy smile.

So, then, I rush back to the chaos and take pictures with my iPhone to remind myself that these wonderful times will only be here once:

sisters-june-2009

***Stay tuned for articles, product reviews, and giveaways related to "free time."

YOUR TURN: What do you do when you have free time?

Note: Yes, my 2-year-old does have marker on her hand in the above picture and, yes, it is permanent marker.

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19 comments on “Themed Weekend: Free Time”

  1. i totally get it!!! i LOVE being home with my boys and my husband... it is my dream come true. i can't think of a way i'd rather spend my time. that said, sometimes i need a little down time when i don't have to listen to or watch anyone else... time to be by myself, relax or just have time to think. when i do get these free moments, i like to run (or go to the gym to lift weights), read, look online for recipes and craft ideas, bake, or upload and edit pictures. i would also like to take a photography class and learn to sew. someday : ) my boys won't be little and home with me forever (my oldest starts kindergarten in the fall. i can't believe it!). so i'm enjoying my time home with them while i can.

  2. I think that finding *free time* is the best thing a mom can do for herself and her family. When I was a SAHM, I barely took time out for myself. When I did, I felt guilty. Now that I work part-time, mostly at home but sometimes I work outside of our house, I feel like the time I get away by myself refreshes me. The first 6 months of driving in the car alone felt very odd, but now I have allowed myself to relax and let myself think. When I do work outside of our home, my kiddos are with my husband, so I know they are getting quality *Daddy Time* Since I have made time for *my time/free time* I feel like I have found ME again. I love to go to lunch or coffee with friends, but I REALLY love my job,and it is my passion. I don't have to worry about being the house cook, maid, taxi, accountant,manner police....I can just be ME..and I think that it will be a great thing to teach my kiddos, that it is always good as a parent, to take a *time-out* and refresh!!

  3. It's so true that when I finally get a break to go out with friends or my hubby, I immediately miss my little guy and. But, sometimes I do need a break. Taking a walk, writing, or reading is what keeps me sane sometimes.

  4. First LOL about the permenant marker on her hand. AT least it wasn't on your brand new kitchen cabinets. Sharpies and 2 year olds do not mix (thanks DH)

    Free time -- when I have free time, I love to read. Or Scrapbook.

  5. Free time? What's that? Just kidding...sort of. My favorite free time activities are reading and gardening. Although, Levi is often digging right there with me, so I don't know if that counts. ;)

  6. A couple of times a week, I watch a soap opera during my daughters nap and stay up late and play my Nintendo DS. There isn't much else I do except blogging and spending time with my daughter. Oh I cook alot, I enjoy cooking and baking and planning out the menu and reading recipes and pretty much anything food.

  7. I try to wake up about 30 minutes before I have to during the week so I can enjoy a cup of coffee and read a good book before the rest of the house wakes up. On Sundays I try to get away for a nice long run, except lately that is harder since my foot is still bothering me. I need to go for a bike ride instead but I just love going out for a nice long run.

  8. I am amazed at just how much free time I used to have. I haven't read more the a few chapters since Lily was born 5 months ago.

    For the most part I don't need or want much alone time these days. But when I do its all about showering or blogging.

  9. free time? what's that? :) i get my "free" time when all 3 kids nap in the afternoon at the same time. it's always a debate: get some things done or sit and do something i want to do not have to do? i try to balance it out.

  10. You said it so perfectly. When you finally get your free time, which is far and few between, you find yourself missing your little ones. I can't help to think that I am missing something when I am alone. With the four kids I get very use to NEVER being alone. It has been that way for 6 1/2 years. So now when I do go shopping by myself, I feel weird. I question, "Where are my buddies?" One time, I even said, "excuse us", to someone,when I was alone. :-)

    When I do get free time, I like to read, spend time with my husband, escape into the Internet, eat chocolate, go for a walk or do absolutely nothing!

  11. My free time this weekend was spent cleaning out a closet, doing laundry, organizing some household areas, and grocery shopping. But I also stole an hour to lie on my bed, reading a magazine and enjoying the quiet. When I have free time that is solely for me, not to get things done without a child hanging off of me, I tend to read, call friends or family, play a mindless game on the computer, go to a bookstore, pretend I am crafty, paint my toenails, take a bubble bath.

  12. It's funny how we take free time for granted until we have kids...One of my favorite things to do is go to tea...we have a ton of tea rooms in California....that is what I do to relax...regroup....

  13. It really depends on my mood. In the past I've jogged, read a book, done genealogy research, baked, scrap booked, played piano, written a story... The possibilities during free time are endless. If only free time was endless!

  14. Oh, do I ever know what you mean! In my free time (which I don't get very often, not just because of necessity, but I really don't want it very often), I run errands. Or browse the internet. Or read. I usually take Princess with me to the grocery store, but once or twice a month, I leave her at home with my husband and go by myself, and I take my sweet time. This is my favorite way to spend my alone time, oddly enough. What I need could take 10 minutes, but I will take an hour and a half to walk the aisles leisurely. And spent slightly more than I intended. :)

  15. Cute picture!

    Love free time and I'll usually spend it online, exercising or sitting out on the deck with hubs. We like to go for walks at the state park too and play with our pets.

  16. With my husband in Iraq and four kids age 4 and under "free time" is almost non-existent for me, but when I do catch a break courtesy of the grandparents or after the girls go to bed I find myself working in the house on things that I can't get done when the girls are home and awake. I'm so excited for my husband to get home next month so that the occasional snippets of free time... like for grocery shopping or trips to the post office sans children... will happen more often for me.

  17. I dont get much free time to myself. I tend to use it to catch up on my dvr shows, or occassionally get to shop with out kids. I have one job 2 hrs a week, but dont count that as free time because I do it after I get the kids in bed, so it actually takes away from my free time.

  18. So true! I related to every minute of this. For my birthday present I asked for a weekend alone with my hubby and without my daughter. As much as it was sooo needed for me to have a couple days of alone time... I missed my little 2 year old so much!

    Lik you - I fill my little free time with 2 part time jobs (love that I can work from home), going to the gym, watching tv, and reading books.

  19. I can completely relate!

    In my free time now I like to do things like fill the car up with gas, so that I don't have to do it when I have a toddler with me, go to the post office so that I can simply run in and run out, get my grocery shopping done and run the errands I need to run.

    In the past I would have been visiting quaint little locally owned shops browsing for the perfect gift, spending hours in the bookstore, meeting friends for coffee and a hundred other things like that. Now I still do those things - but only once or twice a year and often with a child on my hip and the hours in the bookstore have been shortened to an hour or so :) It isn't quite the same but at least I still get to indulge those interests from time to time!

    I also like to scrapbook, sew, make hairbows and cook fancy food. None of those activities happen very often either. I read, but a novel I used to read in a day or two might take me a month or two of sitting in the bathroom while my little one plays in the tub to finish, I write in order to maintain my sanity and I work because I enjoy it and we need the money.

    Now, if I could just find some time to sleep...

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