What did we do with our free time before we had children?
This is something I often ask myself as I am lying in bed at night reviewing my daily to-do list that I didn’t even come close to completing. The lists are never finished like I would like them to be because I am lacking one key element: free time.
It almost like a foreign word to me now, as if someone is speaking to me in a different language. What is that “free time” word you are saying? Is that Swedish?
Even on the extremely rare occasion that I do get both of the child beasts to nap at the same time, I have to do horrible things such as dishes, laundry or showering. Whether it be the dishes from the night before, the husband’s dirty drawers, or my pasty white body, something is always in need of a good cleaning.
The activities that I used to do with my spare time prior to reproducing my little cherubs are almost comical. I’m pretty sure there were times when my husband was traveling on business that I would sit on the couch, drink wine and watch pieces of dust float through the air while daydreaming.
Life was tough back then. Talk about stressful.
Here are some other things that filled my hours of free time before I joined the ranks of motherhood, along with dust counting.
1. Painting my nails and sitting still for an hour while they dried. Now I can’t sit still to empty my bladder, let alone watch paint dry, literally.
2. Styling my hair. My round hair brush that used to curl the ends of my hair as I was drying it is now a tool that my 11-month-old uses to brush the carpet.
3. Spray tanning myself and walking around in my underwear, not touching anything until my body was dried and perfectly orange-bronzed. If I were to do this now, the children would look like they have skin disorders by the time the recommended four hours of drying were complete. “Don’t throw your bodies off the furniture today guys, Mommy is drying her skin tint.”
4. Trimming my hair of split ends—individually, one by one. These days the kids rip out most of my hair, so if I were to spend any time with my individuals strands, it would be to super glue them to my scalp. I just can’t seem to find the time to do this. One day.
5. Hand-washing delicates. I hand-wash my children, myself and the fancy Christmas dishes, and that’s already too much. No one needs delicates. If you’re delicate in any way shape or form, you’ll die quickly in my house.
6. Alphabetizing everything. Books, cookbooks, DVDs, I used to alphabetize them all. Funny how children can cure your mild case of OCD.
7. Ironing baby clothes. While 38 weeks pregnant with my first child, I ironed all of his baby clothes because I wanted them to look nice for pictures. I truly thought this would be a regular routine. This one is almost embarrassing to admit.
8. Ironing anything. I no longer iron. We just have wrinkled clothes, or I use this thing called a dry cleaner when absolutely necessary.
9. Trading all the wire hangers to wooden hangers in our closet, simply because the wooden ones looked cooler. This task took me two days. Two days of my existence. Now, I’m like, “Why do we have all these hangers? The laundry baskets hold all the clothes just fine, and it looks great.” Wrinkles are fine. It’s whatever.
10. Cooking meals that take longer than 45 minutes and that don’t require the microwave. Whether it’s heating up butter or a veggie steamer bag, my microwave is used to help speed up the dreadful dinner process.
11. Listening to music as I took an hour to apply makeup. The only soundtrack I got going on in my bathroom is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song being screamed by my 2½-year-old as he marches in a circle and cabinets being opened and then slammed shut over and over and over and over again until my brain is on the verge of explosion. Mascara and Carmex. DONE.
12. Doing any kind of expensive, multistep face treatments. Nowadays, it’s cleanser and moisturizer. Face treated.
13. Morning stretches and meditation. Sometimes I have to stretch for a clean coffee mug in the back of the cabinet, and my patience is stretched good and thin by 10 a.m. daily. That’s about all the stretching I’m doing currently. However, I do meditate over glasses of wine.
14. Sleeping in just because I could. Think of all the things I could have been doing with my life! Sleeping?! Again, another word that is foreign to me.
15. Going to see a movie just because “it’s something to do.” Now, seeing a movie is never just something to do, it’s planned a month ahead and coveted. We are going to see Star Wars on Friday, so no one better get sick! If the sitter cancels on us, we may just have to assassinate her.
16. Organizing my grocery shopping lists by each section of the store. I need this more now that I have children; it would make my trips much more efficient. But I continue to throw my lists together on my phone and circle the entire store four times before finally checking out. Stress is fun! You should try it! (eye roll)
17. Watching videos that I recorded on my phone of my dog, thinking that she was the best thing ever. She was my baby. Little did I know that three years later, I’d still be watching home videos on my phone at 11:30 at night, but they are videos of my real babies. Nothing makes me want to snuggle them more than watching video footage of them giggling at each other. Face melted off due to a high intensity of cuteness.
You know, I may not be able to enjoy these super important activities anymore, but I’ve gained some pretty priceless moments in motherhood.
Yesterday, I sat with my kids and worked on puzzles for an hour. I heard my son put together three hilarious, new phrases and witnessed my daughter attempt to walk for the first time. These are things that would have seemed pretty uneventful to my 22-year-old self, but now they are the moments I live for.
Maybe I don’t need those 17 activities after all.
I never really liked face masks anyway.