The last of the big jobs in getting ready for term to start is, unlike the other four, one I've only initiated this year, and it's this:
5. Plan out my own schedule for the first two terms, including 2 mental health days / "days off"
Yes, I live the cliche - I plan for the needs, desires and schedules of my family, but often forget about myself.
Of course this isn't 100% true, as many of the family events, activities and happenings are for me as much as for the kids and G (I am greatly looking forward to piano lessons with E, for instance, and to our mid-term beach holiday). Nonetheless, I do tend to forget about putting my own activities into the mix when planning for termtime, and in the past two years in particular, this has certainly contributed to stresspoints in the early weeks as I try to integrate them post facto into an already streamlined schedule.
The things I have tried to factor in for my term 1 & 2 plan are the known variables that I must allow time for, both in preparation and delivery, that need to be either kid-free or where I need to strategise carefully for the kids to be fully occupied. This is things such as:
- 2 x school council meetings (evenings) and 4 x half-days doing school council work
- 4 x teaching mornings at Sunday School (half-day prep, half-day delivery apiece)
- Approximately 8 days' worth of contract work (known & booked) for term 1 (of necessity this is a rubbery estimate only, as work can vaporise or blow out with very little notice)
- 1 x physio appointment per fortnight (I have found I cannot do this with the kids in tow; it is a recipe for utter disaster. I need to allow 1.5 hrs total for treatment and travel.)
- 4 x volunteer sessions in the school kitchen / cooking program
- Involvement in charity / not for profit events and activities (usually 1-3 things across the two terms)
- 1 x lunch / dinner out for G and I for our anniversary in early March
Of course, most of the things I do across a week are completely integratable with the kids, and so I haven't considered things like shopping, party planning, cooking, housework, playgroup, writing (and blogging!) in my term 1 & 2 list. I've only put in things which require me to schedule significant blocks of time alone to accomplish them.
One thing I've decided to do is to schedule 2 mental health days - 1 per term - for myself. This might seem like a bit of an indulgence, and in reality I suppose it is, but sometimes I can find the pace of my life a little tiring, especially when G travels for work (as he'll be doing quite a bit again in the coming months).
So I've decided that one Thursday per term, I'm going to use the 6.5 hours that the girls are at school and C is at creche to spend time just doing something for myself. I'm not sure yet what form that will take. I might have a massage, go shopping and lunch with a friend; I might bake something fancy, curl up with a pile of good books and a flask of tea and read, doze and dream. I might swim laps and go to a market; I might go to the movies and watch daytime TV. I might dig up the garden, play games, or visit my Mum. I might meet up with bloggy friends and go somewhere fun!
Whatever form it takes, once a term I am going to make myself have a day off, not just because I think I'll be a better parent for it (although I do), not just because I think it'll help improve my stamina and keep me going (although it will), but because I would like to, I think it will make me happier, and I think my happiness matters.
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