I’m flying solo!
How high-flying Susie is making the most of a break to find a little ‘me’ time
I AM writing this at 33,000 feet, heading off on a solo adventure: travelling without my family to the other side of the world. It may not be adventurous in the sense that I am staying with friends, and going to civilised locations, but it’s been a long time since I travelled any distance without two small people dominating my every thought.
Normally a flight involves me packing for three (Alex thankfully takes care of himself), precision planning what toys/ snacks/bribes to take for entertainment on the journey and trying to navigate a pre-schooler, plus hand luggage, through security, while negotiating loud exclamations of “Why do I have to take my shoes off?” and “I don’t want Batman to go through that machine!”.
Today it was just me and my handbag.
So how have I wangled this two weeks of ‘me’ time? I am using my long service leave, earned after 25 years at the BBC, to visit some friends in Singapore and New Zealand. I have left behind a very accommodating husband (who has to be in the running for Man of the Year – in Norfolk at least!), a rather put-out 11-yearold and a seemingly oblivious four-year-old, who asked me when I called from the airport what time I would be home!
What am I looking forward to most, apart from seeing my friends of course? The head space. You hear a lot about parents being tired, and not getting enough sleep. The physical exhaustion that comes from juggling work and family is not to be sniffed at. But, for me, the mental exhaustion takes more of a toll.
There is very little quiet in my life: always a list of things to remember, a child’s question to answer, a siblings’ quarrel to settle, a voicemail from work to reply to, an aged dog barking, a phone pinging, a diary clash to be sorted urgently. Each of these on their own is fine, but they coalesce to form a constant noise.
Alex and I often wonder what we did with all that time before we were parents. The truth is that our life was kept in order – the paperwork was filed, the house was tidy and we went to the cinema whenever we felt like it! Now there is an air of low-level chaos – with piles of stuff waiting for that blessed day when we will ‘have time’ to sort it all out. And as for the movies, let’s just say I don’t get much chance to exploit my Cinema City membership!
So, I could have used my long service leave to do the paperwork. But instead I have used it to find some quiet. I am going to sleep, and read, and look at the view. I am going to try to remember the person I was before it all got so noisy.
I love my family more than life itself. But just for the next two weeks, I am flying solo. I firmly believe we will all benefit!