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How to adapt to having older children and learn to RELAX

(37 Posts)
mumz123 Sat 30-Sep-17 11:44:01

Wow. I haven't been on mumsnet for yonks. Years in fact. But as I sat contemplating this issue I thought this would be the best place to come.

My children are now older - aged between 11 and 17. So I finally get to the stage in life where I get time to myself. The stage I have been craving for, for like, 17 years. And now it turns out I have no fucking idea what to do with myself (when I'm not at work).

Like now. Everyone is out. I could of course do housework or laundry or stuff which does of course need doing. BUT I'd really like to actually do nothing and just relax. Read a book. Watch shit TV. Because I could, right!?! But it seems I'm incapable of doing those things without a nagging sense of guilt that I should be doing something else.

Enough rambling. Does this resonate with anyone?

Stopmakingsense Sat 30-Sep-17 18:20:45

Well - time to go on Mumsnet for one thing! Yes I feel a bit at a loose end too sometimes. Long walk with the dog, cook something which isn't just catering, catch up with friends, fantasize about doing something like learn mandarin, definitely no housework.

MuddlingThroughLife Sat 30-Sep-17 20:15:46

I'm a Tele addict and watch Netflix and Amazon prime and loads of shit TV. I love to read but mainly do that in bed before turning in for the night. I don't have hobbies, I can't be bothered and don't have time what with my square eyes. 🎗

Teenageromance Sat 30-Sep-17 20:48:58

Isn't a funny stage of parenting isn't it. Cause while you do get a lot more extended periods where you could do many things for yourself you kind of still need to be at the hub of family life knowing where everyone is and often providing food etc so it's not total freedom.
So I suppose I'm empathising - I've started reading again, I run but I think it is a stage where you can't be totally spontaneous yet so it's a tricky one.

Teenageromance Sat 30-Sep-17 20:49:24


mumz123 Sat 30-Sep-17 21:39:20

Nice to hear your voices. Yes I'm running again and enjoy cooking. But it's just that I can't seem to read or do anything with 'no use' or 'no purpose' without feeling a bit guilty., It is as if these 17 years have rendered me incapable of truly relaxing. I wonder if it's like being a Doctor who is not at work but who is 'on call'?!?

woodlands01 Sat 30-Sep-17 22:05:56

My children are 14 and 16 and I don't seem to be able to relax at all! Spend my time being a taxi (live rurally) and worrying about them for all sorts of different reasons. Very jealous of those relaxing.

Squeegle Sun 01-Oct-17 09:16:44

I agree it's really an odd phase. I'm single mum and DCs are 13 and 15. They are very often out, they don't want to go anywhere with me. But I can't really go out for the day as I need to be around if anything happens and to cook tea etc. And sometimes I feel a bit of a spare part if they're in with their friends. Any advice welcome definitely.

UnaPalomaBlanca Sun 01-Oct-17 09:35:38

I think you just need to keep practising and the guilt will go away gradually. It’s a new phase. You just need to get used to it and eventually you will wonder how you ever managed the early years without a second to yourself.

TheSecondOfHerName Sun 01-Oct-17 09:38:52

I agree, there's quite a bit of waiting around until you're needed. I usually make sure the laundry, dishes etc are done, then try to sit and read for half an hour.

I've also joined a choir, which means I'm out some of the time, and they have to fend for themselves (age range 13-17).

bugster Sun 01-Oct-17 09:46:18

Agree with Woodlands01, actually I find this much more stressful than when they are young, mine are not that old yet, oldest girl 12.5, but finding adolescence really difficult. I worry about her more than when she was little.

Mum2OneTeen Sun 01-Oct-17 09:46:32

Yup, mum to an almost 17yr old here. I feel rather lost and quite redundant now, it's as though I'm not quite sure of what my role is anymore and I feel like I'm floundering somewhat.

I guess it is another period of transition, there's uncertainty and also a feeling of loss for me anyway. I'm rather wishing that I had more children and that it all wasn't going to end so soon, DD is just entering her final year and then before we know it, she will be leaving home (we live in the country) to go off to uni & into the world.

So no advice, but certainly empathy!

Tealdeal747 Sun 01-Oct-17 09:49:59

Sounds like you need a new hobby?

VanillaSugar Sun 01-Oct-17 09:53:38

Quick placemark.

RaininSummer Sun 01-Oct-17 10:04:14

Yes keep practicing as it will come back. My kids have left home now so weekends and evening are mine now. I do a lot of crafts, reading and netflix. I do some housework first and consider my craft to be productive time too.

Ilovetolurk Sun 01-Oct-17 19:07:58

I'm like you OP

I think I need a hobby. I used to love reading but find it a bit indulgent now for some reason unless I am on holiday on a sun lounger

I find going to the library helps , I borrow a range of books and dip in to these it seems to suit a short attention span

Exercise helps too, I can relax more when I flop after a busy day

HipsterAssassin Sun 01-Oct-17 20:42:03

I'm with you, OP!

Mine are 12 and 14, the eldest is mostly out with friends (and I feel embarrassed that she's at tht stage already - like she a delinquent or something) blush and the youngest is holed up in her room. Neither kid want to do anything with me. I feel guilty about not 'doing' anything and feeling more 'on call' for lifts and meal times... am LP with a boyf who lives 45mins away in similar circs. It's a weird phase. When dd14 is out I just worry about her! Difficult to relax...

mumz123 Sun 01-Oct-17 22:52:04

Well I’m certainly relieved I’m not alone. What I’m getting from here is a) this is a phase/ a transition which makes sense. I’m not destined to never be able to relax! b) it might be that we need to fake it to make it?!? I might need to sit my arse down and read a boom and tolerate the niggling guilt.

I do also wonder if part of it is about working part time whilst dh works full time and do I kind of feel I need to justify myself to him?!? Even though he hasn’t said anything at all. I sort of feel I need to hide my relaxing. Even though it’s the frigging weekend. My issues. Not his.

mumz123 Sun 01-Oct-17 22:52:33

I’ll read a book rather than a boom.

FernetBranca Sun 01-Oct-17 23:07:48

I agree it's odd. I have a 13 year old and a 15 year old. I love the fact that they want to be more independent but that independence often has to be facilitated by us, with lifts, and support, and chatting through what's going on ("oh, so Charlotte's parents won't actually be there when you go for a sleepover. Just her older sister. Right, and she's what, 25? Oh, 17. Oh good, her boyfriend will be there as well").

I think the problem is the mismatched expectation that you see that you can get more time to yourself, but it's not unconditional ("l'll come and pick you up from Charlotte's at 10.30 but you're not staying the night").

The way I look at it is I'm not quite there yet, but I can start making preparations for being there. At the moment I am doing many more things for myself, but they are mostly home based (I work FT, and have always had an exercise regime of sorts, just re other stuff). It's a million miles from not being able to have a wee in peace without 2 toddlers banging on the door but much as I'd love to go on weekend yoga retreats, that ain't happening yet (or not without a lot of planning).

Actually I've started piano lessons (from ground zero), which I'm really enjoying. I feel quite productive in practising. When I do finally get the unconditional time I can see on the horizon, I will have a new skill as well smile.

Skittlesandbeer Sun 01-Oct-17 23:47:00

I suffer from relaxation guilt as well. My counsellor (for other issues!) has convinced me that learning to relax is a legitimate task that needs regular attention for good mental health. Even seeing it that way has helped. I'm doing 'something', not 'nothing'.

I set myself projects like redesigning the veggie patch, or overhauling a room, or making 12 Xmas cards by hand. These tasks have a creative side and also fairly prosaic aspects (measuring, listing, researching, etc). If I'm feeling guilty that I should be doing something more 'useful', I do the boring bits, which assuage my conscience nicely. If I'm feeling due for some fun, I throw myself in the creative side.

I loved the above idea of joining a choir, you would have a weekly interaction with new people and lots of singing practice to do on your own!

frenchfancy Mon 02-Oct-17 12:15:04

You are definitely not alone. My youngest has just gone up to secondary - which gains me 2.5 hours a day. I feel guilty if I do nothing. I'm trying to catch up on the little jobs that never seem to get done but really don't take long. And doing deals with myself - if I do that I can sit down for 30 minutes guilt free. I'm also doing much more sewing - which is making clothes for me and therefore saving money which is the same as earning money (get my logic?).

Where does the guilt come from I wonder? Dh never implies I should be doing something else, but there is that nag in the back of my head.

Therealslimshady1 Mon 02-Oct-17 12:21:34

I just book yoga classes, or go out for a walk, or meet friends in the pub.

I love that they are 13 and 15, and I have so much freedom now.

Am making the most of it with NO guilt.

For me, it helps to plan/book things. Otherwise I just drift!

mumz123 Mon 02-Oct-17 16:40:59

Very impressed with your lack of guilt Therealslimshady1! If I could channel your vibe I'd be ay-ok.

I think the fact that we are on the way but not quite there is helpful - that of course I can't just swan around in a footloose and fancy free way just yet, because dinner needs making, and kids need taxiing and there's unexpected stuff too like cat vom to clear up or poorly kids or homework problems.

I did join a choir actually last year, but the show-offy woman next to me put me off. As did the fact that I was at least 20 years younger than most. And the musty smell in the church hall. I realised I was mainly staying for the tea break with biscuits and sloped off home via the cornershop to buy a packet of fig rolls. No regrets.

mumz123 Mon 02-Oct-17 16:42:25

And yes, where does the guilt come from frenchfancy? It's bloody annoying as I know it's misplaced.

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