I am “the frame”
A couple of months back I was reading an article about family life and came across a quote from a mother that really got me thinking. It read “When you become a parent you’re no longer in the picture, you become the picture frame”.
At first I thought, “Yeah, I can relate to that. I am the frame”. At the time I was experiencing very little sleep due to my 18 month daughter going through a teething stage and it did feel like I was simply revolving my life around her sleep patterns! I also get that when you become a parent your life does dramatically change and your needs definitely take a back seat, however after a bit more thought I wasn’t sure that I was ready to be relegated to the frame just yet or even at all.
As a result of poor quality of sleep, I was finding it hard to concentrate and focus at work and I didn’t seem to be getting any time to myself to do any of things I enjoy as I felt too tired. So as a result of all of that I had low energy and other than getting more sleep, I couldn’t see how things could improve.
I was feeling frustrated and was talking it through with Kaye one day when I had a realisation; in order to be the best version of me that I can be, I need to give myself space. As soon as this fully dawned on me I felt a massive relief. I also felt a little bit sad that I had put myself to the bottom of the pile again. I think most of us probably experience this to some extent in that you’re so busy looking after everyone else that you forget about yourself. I decided to hold a personal context of ‘space’ to support me bringing this into my life.
So as I started to paint a picture of what having space would look like for me I had another realisation; I have lots of support around me and it’s OK for me to ask for extra support. I have a fantastic support network and as soon as I asked for more support it was there. In the past I’ve felt guilty about asking others for help although I now realise that people are happy to help out especially when they can see the benefit.
What is ‘Space’?
For me it was important that I actually got really clear on what space means to me before I set off on my space voyage! In the past, when I thought of giving myself ‘space’ it conjured up images of relaxing in a fluffy robe in a luxurious spa – not something I can afford to do every day. To get clear on my terminology I now class this as ‘me time’, which is equally as important, but on a less regular basis!
So I knew why I wanted space but what exactly does ‘space’ mean to me? When exactly would I give myself space? What time would I need to get up so that I could have some space? (I was already up between 4am-5am, would I need to set my alarm for 3am?!) Is 10 minutes enough ‘space’ time? Can I have some space every day?
After some calls to book in extra child care and a quick reshuffle of my work diary I managed to ‘book off’ a couple of hours worth of space each day. So now that the space is there, what do I actually ‘do’ when I’m in this ‘space’ time? The answer: whatever I want! How free does that make me feel? The answer: very!
At work, giving myself space means giving myself a bit of thinking time or breathing space or space to be creative. So it may actually look like I’m doing nothing but this is where the magic happens! This is when I feel most inspired and come up with ideas and solutions. Most of the time I actually consider one of our focal points and it tends to be in a broader sense rather than thinking about the detail. I feel switched on and fully engaged with the business. I also sometimes choose to use this ‘space’ time to get caught up on stuff – the point is, I get to choose what to do with this time.
In my personal time, giving space also means choice. I may choose to exercise, meditate, learn something new or actually just do nothing at all! What I love about exercising is that it makes me feel truly alive and grateful for my health. Meditation and learning help me grow my ‘inner’ space and I feel open and free.
With Eilidh, my daughter, giving myself space means being truly present and tuned into her. It’s really easy to go through the motions of everyday stuff like meals, bath and bedtime and for me it’s more challenging to just ‘be’ together and when it does happen it feels truly amazing and really connects us – even at 5am!
The reality is that sometimes I can only fit in 10 minutes of ‘space’ and sometimes that means just sitting doing absolutely nothing. What I do have now is an awareness of space and how by choosing to grant myself space can affect the person I am.
I’m also aware that it’s a good idea for me to continually check in with this to make sure I’m still getting enough space. It’s very easy to get caught up in the daily ‘stuff’ and to forget to take a step back.
A final note is that over the last couple of months I’ve had periods of only 3 – 4 hours sleep and have still managed to give myself space – sometimes just a couple of hours guilt-free kip in the afternoon!