So what do I do all day?

As a stay at home mum there are plenty out there who love to comment on my lifestyle, choices and use of time. There is the obvious and predictable ‘So what do you do all day?’ To be honest though, most people are more subtle.

Some share such unasked for nuggets of thought as ‘I would get bored at home all day’ or ‘Have you thought of going back to work?’

Others point out opportunities that they seem to feel I am missing out on such as volunteer positions in areas of interest, or clubs and societies that they believe I would benefit from joining.

They mean well. They sincerely wish to help. These are friendly, caring people who have my best interests at heart.

The only problem with all of these well intentioned comments is that they suggest I have too much time on my hands. Please allow me to make an announcement people: I do not have nearly enough time to achieve all of the things that I wish to do. If you could arrange it for me, another half dozen hours each day would be great thanks. If you can’t manage that then I need to be more efficient with all that I already try to do in order to fit it all in.

I know that I am in the fortunate position of being able to choose how I spend a large chunk of my week. Once I get the food, cleaning, tidying and laundry sorted each day I can tackle my ‘to do’ list. There are ongoing jobs in the house and garden to see to, my hens to keep happy and a running list of tasks to complete for family members. After that I move onto the things that I choose to do for me, and it is here that I never have enough time.

I want to visit the gym, go for walks, swim, meet up with friends, read books, watch films and write. I cannot get all of these done in the time available.

Take this week as an example. I wanted to write three short stories for three challenges. So far I have written two, one of which I was pleased with and one which I felt I had to rush, but which I will submit for the useful feedback. I still hope to find time to write the third but I am not sure when I will be able to squeeze this in.

In order to participate in one of the challenges I was required to read over thirty short stories, so that has been my reading this week. I haven’t had time to open a book since the weekend, and I have been leant one that I really want to read. I need to clear this as I have agreed to do a book review for another on line site, so when my copy of that arrives it will take priority.

On two mornings this week I met up with friends for walks, getting rather wet in the process given our recent weather. It was great to catch up with these lovely ladies, but in choosing to walk I have not been able to find time to visit the gym or swim. I miss my relaxing swims as they give me an opportunity to think about and plan my stories.

I am sitting here writing again when I should really be prepping dinner, thus my early evening will be spent on that task. It all fits so long as I do not plan any relaxation time, so no films until the weekend.

Now of course, I could just not write. I am not required to read or exercise. So long as I keep the house ticking over most of the things that I do are for me. I am well aware that there are many people who do not have my freedom of choice, who have to go out to earn a living or who have young and demanding children to care for. I am well aware of the privileges that I enjoy.

My point is that I do not need more to fill my time, I already try to squeeze too much into each day. I have no idea how my friends find the time to go to their clubs and societies, I guess they just give these higher priority than some other things they may also consider doing.

That is what it comes down to after all, priorities. I have hobbies and interests that eat time. I derive satisfaction from creating stories, maintaining this blog, joining in with discussions on the writer’s communities on line to which I subscribe. I do what feels right for me, whereas others do what feels right for them.

So what do I do all day? As much as I can squeeze into the few short hours between when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. At the end of each day, if I have created a new piece of writing with which I am pleased then I feel that I have achieved something. Perhaps tomorrow I will find time for that workout and swim.

However you choose to fill whatever free time you have, I hope that you derive enjoyment from it. Such time is never wasted.

writeratwork

Staying healthy

I have a friend who believes that those who can afford to have a duty to buy the best quality meat and organic vegetables that they can find to encourage production of these types of food stuffs. This same friend takes the most varied cocktail of drugs of anyone I know in an attempt to keep herself as healthy as possible. She has many health issues and spends a great amount of her time dealing with these. She and I do not see eye to eye on many of her theories around consumption and it’s effects on the human body.

I think that our bodies are amazing. To survive we must eat and breath yet, in our modern world, both our food and our air are polluted. Thankfully we have inbuilt systems for detoxification and we seem to be able to cope with the small quantities of poison that we consume or inhale. We can assist this process by exercising regularly and by keeping our bodies well hydrated. Beyond this, a bit of common sense in what we consume seems to be enough to keep most people in a state of reasonable health.

I am not a good cook. I don’t enjoy preparing food and the meals that I produce tend to be fairly bland. This is partly down to my lack of confidence and skill in this area, and partly down to the varied tastes of my family which limits what we can eat. One of my sons likes meat and strong flavours, dislikes a wide range of vegetables, and gets bored being fed the same thing too often; my other son dislikes strong flavours and likes to know what he is eating so is often unwilling to try anything new; my daughter dislikes fish, meat, certain vegetables and salad. Trying to please everyone is a challenge as I am not willing to produce different meals at one sitting.

I use a lot of fresh ingredients and cook mainly from scratch. I do use some jars of sauce for flavour and a few of my daughters vegetarian alternatives come from a frozen packet, but most of what we eat contains only basic, recognisable foodstuffs that I have chosen and added. I do not concern myself with brands unless there is a notable difference in taste. As much of the food is mixed up together in the cooking anyway, I buy what is on offer.

The recent horse meat scandal did not disturb me too much as horse meat is probably better for us than much of the offal that goes into food from other animals. It is always a concern to hear that creatures reared for consumption are fed a variety of chemicals to promote easy health and fast weight gain, but the chemical fertilizers and sprays that promote growth in vegetables are already in the human food chain through animal feedstuffs. We are told that organic vegetables are no better for our health than the ordinary, mass produced variety and that vegetarian alternatives to meat are as full of flavourings and additives as a cheap burger or sausage. I do not dispute that these things are bad for us, only that we have to eat something and the alternatives may not actually be that much better.

What we can do if we wish to stay healthy is to exercise more. Physical exercise will make our vital organs function more efficiently, speed up digestion and help our bodies to flush the harmful chemicals out. My children may not appreciate that I send them to school on the bus rather than  driving them, which would be much cheaper, but the required walk to the bus stop and then on to school and back will help to keep them healthy (complaints about sore backs due to heavy bags of books notwithstanding).

I am fascinated by the scientific studies that have found links between what we think about our health and how healthy we are. In certain situations, participants in studies have been given placebos but told it is a curing drug and have subsequently been cured. It is obvious that not all illness can be cured in this way, but I believe it shows that attitude is vital for good health. There are times when we are ill and our bodies tell us that we need to rest; allowing a time of rest and recovery is sensible and important. However, I also believe that we can think ourselves more ill than we are. There seem to be a lot of people who, for no apparent reason, seem to come down with every bug and virus going. There are others who manage to avoid most minor illnesses or who can just keep going through the sniffles and aches. I cannot put myself inside anyone else’s head to know how they feel, but I do wonder if some are more prone to illness than others or if they just believe that they are less healthy.

I have never been one to use the mass of antiseptic sprays and wipes that are promoted for hygiene in the home apart from in the bathrooms. I think this worries my friend. She disinfects surfaces with fervour, replaces scratched items which may harbour bacteria and does all in her power to keep dirt from her home. I have a much more relaxed attitude to these things. A bit of hot water and soap plus a sensible attitude to hand washing does me. If we ingest a bit of dirt our immune systems will be strengthened. Bacteria can fight infection as well as cause it. I would rather not cover the surfaces of my kitchen with yet more chemicals.

I realise that it is easy for me to have a fairly laissez faire attitude to food and hygiene when I have the good fortune to have a robust and healthy family. Good health should never be taken for granted. Time spent working to maintain it may not always be fun, but is a worthwhile investment. I should probably also invest a bit more time in improving my cooking skills.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid, from the Harvard S...