I’m fly­ing solo!

How high-fly­ing Susie is mak­ing the most of a break to find a lit­tle ‘me’ time

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - Susie Fowler-Watt

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!

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