Sunday, March 20, 2016

The things you will never regret

In our previous home, we had a separate room for a home office. Such privacy is very convenient, but it is also the pitfall of the computer junkie (which, I admit, I am). I could tuck children into naps or, at a period of time when I didn't have any children young enough to need naps, I could let them watch a movie - while I got into the office to check my emails, etc.

The problem is, the "etc" only too easily turns into watching silly YouTube videos, participating in draining online discussions, making frivolous Google searches ("why does the top point of my left ear sometimes itch?"), and keeping up with the social media. The power of the click is just too alluring. 

Of course, there are also the good things - reading excellent helpful articles, writing letters to friends, taking care of personal projects, working on my books. However, the good things are even more dangerous, in the way of justifying an extravagant amount of time spent on them. If you watch a video of a cat playing the piano, you'll feel guilty for wasting your time after five minutes. But knitting how-to videos are okay, right?

Unfortunately, I became feeling entitled to that office time, alone behind closed doors. It was my time; I needed it. So when naps were broken, or squabbles interrupted movie time, I became unreasonably frustrated. I don't have an exact estimate of how many hours were spent on lawful pursuits, and how many on mindless web browsing, but there is no doubt a large chunk of my time could have been better employed.

In this house, I have one computer in the living room for everybody's use, faulty internet connection and a little one that really isn't a very good sleeper. And I'm happier than ever; this change has been the best thing that could have happened to me. It taught me to prioritize; on a good day, I might have half an hour or so after lunch for answering emails, browsing ads, etc, and if I'm not too tired there's an hour or so at night when I can write, read, research information or watch a movie in peace and quiet.

The thing is, when I look back on times enjoyably spent with my children - whether reading together, or taking nature walks, doing crafts, playing games, even just watching a movie together - I can't think of one hour I would rather have spent doing something else. Even if a baby is colicky or teething, it means a night of precious snuggling with someone who needs me, just then, more than anything. I might be very tired, but I have no regrets.

But when I remember my "me" time, my feelings are not so unequivocal. There are many pages I wish unread or unwritten, many videos unwatched, many games unplayed, many conversations unspoken. Not because these things were bad in themselves, but because they took away from the truly important things I should have been doing.

You will probably never regret spending time with your children. The same cannot be said of other things, be it personal projects, volunteering, hobbies or social commitments. I keep that in mind every day, and it makes all the difference.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of an otherwise forgettable movie who said at some point "My son is more important than breakfast, lunch or dinner, but if I never ate anything I would starve".
Don't beat yourself up if you feel the need of some alone time; you're only human.
I'm glad that you find your new internet arrangement satisfactory, but I don't think there's anything particularly wrong if sometimes your brain and your body ask for some down time or some interaction with a grown up (even if it's a passive interaction, as in reading).
I'm sure your children will be happy to have a mother that is more relaxed, has many new interesting ideas and sense of humour, not to mention the ability to find the perfect cat video for when you need to have a laugh.
It's actually healthy! ;)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/watching-cat-videos-boost-energy-and-positive-emotions-study-finds-10329218.html


Anna

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anna, you're right of course - it's all a matter of proportions, of the bulk of time spent doing those things. Looking back, I do feel I rather over-indulged in that closed off private office, and unfortunately, it came at the expense of my children. I'm glad I have so little time these days. It keeps me focused.