Since having a baby I have developed a strange condition. It's not life threatening, thankfully, and I'm hoping its manageable. On talking to other parents I don't think I'm the only one struggling with it. I've looked up my symptoms online to try and identify it but my search has come up blank. So I'm self-diagnosing. People, I've got 'Whirlwind-itus'.
It used to take me about a week to wash any of my clothes. I would check the weather on-line to try and plan a good time to do it. I would take the clothes out of the washing basket and move them incrementally closer to the washing machine at a rate of approximately two metres a day. When finally close enough, the washing would then go in the machine where I would promptly forget about it. I would then forget about it some more. The forgetting (or wilfully ignoring) stage would go on for a few days until I ran out of pants/tights/work appropriate clothing and actually turned the machine on. It would then go out to dry (after a another delay, obviously), dodging rain showers (the weather check earlier in the week now obsolete) taken in when still wet and sometimes, in low moments, dried with a hair-dryer so I had something clean to wear to work.
Now, due to my new condition, when A is asleep, things get done. She fell asleep the other morning and in the space of fifteen minutes I had eaten breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, put a nappy wash on (There is always a nappy wash to do in my house), hung some clothes away, put away the drying up, replied to some texts and I'm pretty sure if she had slept any longer I could have taken a crack at brokering peace in the middle east.
I whirlwind. The minute that little girl closes her eyes I'm off, Tasmanian Devil style around the house; eating, cooking, cleaning, carrying, building, welding, talking, painting – doing anything and everything in that small, unknown amount of time that she sleeps Some days I marvel at my efficiency. Turns out my mother was right all along – Imagine what I could do if I only applied myself! (Big up Martha) But more recently, it's left me feeling frustrated. In that small sliver of time, that miniscule window that I get to myself all day, I choose to, what? empty the dishwasher? That seems a bit sad to me.
I get stuff has to get done; the older child has to be picked up from school, the fire that's just started in the corner probably needs to be put out. However, now when A sleeps, (sorry, I mean, If A sleeps, there are no guarantees in this house) I try to just stop. Breathe. Resist the urge to carry out major house renovations in forty-five minutes. Maybe just have a cup of tea. Read a book. Sit. I don't want to go off on a well-being tip (I'm sure there a millions of other much better written blogs dedicated to that), but there is definitely something about using this precious time as a parent, to do something for yourself, to not try and fit in a weeks worth of housework into half an hour. A wise man once said to me 'Its not about the length of time, it's about the quality' (It was my neighbour Vince, he's lovely) and I really think he is right.
It's tough, I admit. To sit and write this I had to stop myself doing another million things. A sleeps for random lengths of time of at random times of day. There is no pattern to it. But I am trying to enforce a pattern. A pattern of stopping before I whirlwind and asking myself if it is really what I want to do with that time.
Ironically I better finish this and call the G.P's while she is asleep – I'm hoping they can give me some drugs for this condition at the very least.