The Leisure Time of a Mom

June 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm (Eating Out, Family, House, Marriage, Opinion, Parenting, Shopping, Sleep, Toddler, Uncategorized)

As I was catching up on my DVR last night, I came across an episode of Dr. Phil which was very interesting.   There was a study conducted by a sociologist at the University of Maryland which claims that moms have an extra 30-40 hours of leisure time a week!! HUH?  He counts things that I would not necessarily include in “leisure time”.  Things like waiting for a tow truck, going to the dentist, etc doesn’t that sound leisurely?  Normally I would think that leisure time involves a beach, a frozen drink, a cabana boy to bring me said drink, and someone trustworthy watching my daughter so that I can actually relax!!!!

I am a stay at home mom.  Relaxing right?  No need to wake up early, get dressed, schlep my daughter to school, sit in traffic, work, then do it all backwards?  My “job” is taking care of my 2 year old.  I am on call all the time.  It does not end.  The time that I can sneak away to check emails is peppered with calls of “Mommy!!!” or little hands on the keyboard.  Maybe I can check emails or facebook from my iphone right?  Well, as soon as she sees me pull that out, she wants to play with it – so out of my hands it goes.  Getting her dressed is a battle, getting myself dressed is done with one ear constantly making sure I don’t hear any crashes or screaming from the other room where she’s playing.  Driving in a car included listening to Mickey or Laurie Berkner, don’t get me wrong, I love Laurie but I really do miss driving along singing to MY music! Then there are the books strewn around the back of my car which she wants.  I go shopping!! that’s leisure right?  Pushing a stroller through a mall at warp speed.  if I’m lucky I can avert her eyes to something else while we pass the Disney Store or Build A Bear otherwise the screaming ensues and invariably we walk out with a new Mickey “thing” or a new bear.   IF I get to shop for myself it’s while entertaining her with stickers, snacks, or my iphone.  making sure she doesn’t grab things off racks, this is all if she’s in a good mood.  If she’s not is a good mood – all bets are off.  I will normally just have to hightail it out of the mall while she is screaming and trying to imitate houdini and escape from her stroller.   I also get to eat out – yay!? No leisurely lunch for me anymore.  Hurrying to order for me and for Alexis.  Keeping her entertained with crayons or whatever until the food arrives.  First getting her food ready, making sure it’s not too hot, cutting things into toddler sized pieces.  Then I scarf down my food with half my attention on her, my mommy reflexes always on edge ready to jump and prevent any spills or splashes, or if it’s a really fun lunch – anything from being launched.  Ok she’s done eating, let’s get the check, clean her off and go.  That was so relaxing!!!!

Back home.  Play time again.  This is where I can maybe jump on the computer again with the “mommy!” cries in the background or the little hands on the keyboard.  Then it’s naptime.  Ahhhhh.  Nap time.  Time for me to relax!!!! Wait – what’s that I hear?  Oh she doesn’t want to sleep.  She’s wants up.  But she’s so tired, why won’t she just fall asleep!!??!!  Ok so an hour later of tears, bribes, rocking, singing, and sometimes driving in a car she is asleep.  Ok, now I can relax.  But I’m so terrified of waking her that I need to  make sure that any TV I watch is so low that I almost need to read lips.  And I really do need to get around to the laundry and washing the dishes, and oh yeah maybe catch up on a tv show also.  No matter what I’m doing I am always listening to the monitor and therefore my “leisure time” is always tempered with the knowledge that at best she will sleep for 3 hours, but more than likely it will be 2 hours.

She’s up.  This is usually the most difficult part of the day.  From the time she wakes up from her nap until bedtime.  She still wants to play but is usually more cranky than the pre-nap hours.  I have to figure out what’s for dinner and try to cook while keeping her away from anything that could be dangerous in the kitchen.  When Marc is in town he will come home right before dinner time so then there are 2 of us.  When he’s home he will handle her bath after dinner while I clean up the kitchen and table.  If he’s not home, then it’s all me.  Then bedtime.  This is unpredictable.  She can be a great sleeper and go right to sleep, but then there are other nights where it’s a battle of wills and could take up to an hour to fall asleep.  An hour much like nap time, she doesn’t just lie there contentedly listening to music when she doesn’t want to be there.  Most of the time she falls asleep with no problem, but every few months there is a phase, it lasts anywhere from 10 days – 2 weeks where it’s every night that she cries and does not want to sleep.  Last night, I was alone with her and by the time she fell asleep it was 9:20.  Usually I don’t eat dinner with her, I wait until she’s asleep.  So last night, I found myself having a PB&J at 9:30.  Then trying to straighten up the house.  And, hey maybe a shower.  That’s leisure right?  Yeah I’m laughing too.  The shower with the monitor on the bathroom counter.  Then and only then can I relax finally.  Again, always with the monitor and always listening.  So, I stay up late because it’s the only quiet time I get just for me.

Even sleep is not the same anymore.  I’m sure that all moms can attest to this.  Once you become a mom, you just don’t sleep as soundly because part of your subconscious is always listening to the monitor, ready to spring up at any moment.  Hopefully, she sleeps fitfully and fully through the night, but hey you never know.  She could wake up in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep or she may not.  I may bring her to bed with me because I’m too tired to fight this battle and then I have little feet kicking me and sleep is definitely compromised.  So, you see, even when I can do things “of leisure” it’s not really.  It’s always in little snippets and with a million other things floating around in my brain.

What about vacations or when I go out to dinner with a friend?  Well, not the same either.  Gone are the carefree days of really getting away.  Because, I am always thinking of Alexis and what she should be doing at the time or if she’s ok.  I will get calls and texts with updates and/or questions.  So, even those times when i do get away, my mind is not completely away.  I may not have a “job”, but I definitely work.  My job is a 24 hour a day one.  One that will be like this for as long as I can imagine.  So, please clarify your 30-40 hours of leisure time a week that I week, Mr. Sociologist, I’m not sure that you fully understand the job of a mom.

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1 Comment

  1. Melanie said,

    Ahhh, i could have written that word for word… as I type this and hear crying and screaming “MOMMY, I want to watch Mickey in MOMMY’s BEDDDD” ahhhh… where’s the leisure!?

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