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Why Is It Hard to Slow Down?

1
I used to work in a corporate environment. It felt like my life was a constant rush. I dropped my daughter off at the childminder, ran for the train, stood up, pressed against all the other commuters and scrolled through my phone checking what fresh HELL had landed in my inbox. It was a hurried coffee drunk whilst running from Southwark tube to the office, butterflies in my stomach as I clambered into the lift and checking my phone until my laptop had sprung into life and I could start checking mails in earnest again.

I didn’t enjoy this life. This

SelfishMother.com
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life of meetings where nothing was decided. Of team inspiration sessions where everyone was too grumpy to listen because there was so much work to be done and we were being forced to listen to something that was of little interest (usually too high-brow and intellectual to have any meaningful implications in a marketing context). Lunch would be eaten in half an hour, often at the computer with crumbs falling into the keyboard, then on the way home a quick dash around Waterloo station before standing up on the train all the way home, doing bath and
SelfishMother.com
3
bedtime, slumping in front of the TV and grunting.

When I took voluntary redundancy, I found it hard to adjust. I had work (editing Selfish Mother for example which was great) but the pace wasmuch slower. I was cut adrift, like I had no purpose- my list of things to do became more domestic- getting the loo fixed, tidying up the sock drawer, washing, cleaning. These were all things I’d done before but had never really focused on. Now it was hard to find anything else to focus on.

Then six weeks ago I had my second daughter. Things changed again. I

SelfishMother.com
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felt cut adrift again.

’Sleep when the baby sleeps,’ people said.

’Slow down and take it easy.’

’Just stay snuggled up on the sofa all day.’

’Don’t go out, stay inside. It’s your nesting instinct.’

Initially this is exactly what I did. I didn’t have a choice. I was recovering from a birth injury and felt insanely tired. Then very quickly I started to feel restless. I wanted something to occupy my brain that was not worrying about the baby and when it should eat, and how many hours it had slept. Without any purpose the days felt

SelfishMother.com
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endless. I started writing again. I tried to get out. I booted up my laptop (with the baby on one shoulder wriggling or asleep).

Why does it feel so hard to slow down? Why does it feel hard to reach the end of the day and realise that you’ve done a wash, cleaned the loo and that’s about it? Is it because I’m used to a busy life- a life that  wasn’t particularly fun but was full of distraction and buzz and stuff and dashing about?  I find it hard to do nothing (even when it’s actually something like keeping a small person alive). I want to have

SelfishMother.com
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exciting, interesting things on the  horizon. I want things to look forward to that aren’t purely child-related.

We live in a culture where being busy and booked up to the gills is celebrated. Spending the day watching TV and squirting bleach down the loo feels rather empty. We are focused on achieving and nailing it. Each morning I scroll through Instagram and get an anxiety attack because everyone is attending events, launching a business, networking, writing books, coming up with ideas for apps. I get the restless feeling in my belly. The baby

SelfishMother.com
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doesn’t like being put down. She likes to sit on me all day. I am lucky if I manage to eat a bowl of soup without dropping it on her head.

’Slow down,’ she whispers as I pick her up yet again.

’Look at my tiny fingernails,’ she says.

’Look at my nose. Look at that perfect curve.’

’This moment with just the two of us. It will never be here again,’ she sighs.

’I know,’ I whisper back.

So much to do. So little time. What will happen if I just stay here not moving? I kiss her head and feel the soft fuzz of her hair. The

SelfishMother.com
8
’nailing it,’ the frantic pace, the ’live every day as if it’s your last,’ the constant rushing, the hustle…it can wait.

But why does it feel so hard?

SelfishMother.com
Anniki Sommerville

By

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- 4 Feb 19

I used to work in a corporate environment. It felt like my life was a constant rush. I dropped my daughter off at the childminder, ran for the train, stood up, pressed against all the other commuters and scrolled through my phone checking what fresh HELL had landed in my inbox. It was a hurried coffee drunk whilst running from Southwark tube to the office, butterflies in my stomach as I clambered into the lift and checking my phone until my laptop had sprung into life and I could start checking mails in earnest again.

I didn’t enjoy this life. This life of meetings where nothing was decided. Of team inspiration sessions where everyone was too grumpy to listen because there was so much work to be done and we were being forced to listen to something that was of little interest (usually too high-brow and intellectual to have any meaningful implications in a marketing context). Lunch would be eaten in half an hour, often at the computer with crumbs falling into the keyboard, then on the way home a quick dash around Waterloo station before standing up on the train all the way home, doing bath and bedtime, slumping in front of the TV and grunting.

When I took voluntary redundancy, I found it hard to adjust. I had work (editing Selfish Mother for example which was great) but the pace wasmuch slower. I was cut adrift, like I had no purpose- my list of things to do became more domestic- getting the loo fixed, tidying up the sock drawer, washing, cleaning. These were all things I’d done before but had never really focused on. Now it was hard to find anything else to focus on.

Then six weeks ago I had my second daughter. Things changed again. I felt cut adrift again.

‘Sleep when the baby sleeps,’ people said.

‘Slow down and take it easy.’

‘Just stay snuggled up on the sofa all day.’

‘Don’t go out, stay inside. It’s your nesting instinct.’

Initially this is exactly what I did. I didn’t have a choice. I was recovering from a birth injury and felt insanely tired. Then very quickly I started to feel restless. I wanted something to occupy my brain that was not worrying about the baby and when it should eat, and how many hours it had slept. Without any purpose the days felt endless. I started writing again. I tried to get out. I booted up my laptop (with the baby on one shoulder wriggling or asleep).

Why does it feel so hard to slow down? Why does it feel hard to reach the end of the day and realise that you’ve done a wash, cleaned the loo and that’s about it? Is it because I’m used to a busy life- a life that  wasn’t particularly fun but was full of distraction and buzz and stuff and dashing about?  I find it hard to do nothing (even when it’s actually something like keeping a small person alive). I want to have exciting, interesting things on the  horizon. I want things to look forward to that aren’t purely child-related.

We live in a culture where being busy and booked up to the gills is celebrated. Spending the day watching TV and squirting bleach down the loo feels rather empty. We are focused on achieving and nailing it. Each morning I scroll through Instagram and get an anxiety attack because everyone is attending events, launching a business, networking, writing books, coming up with ideas for apps. I get the restless feeling in my belly. The baby doesn’t like being put down. She likes to sit on me all day. I am lucky if I manage to eat a bowl of soup without dropping it on her head.

‘Slow down,’ she whispers as I pick her up yet again.

‘Look at my tiny fingernails,’ she says.

‘Look at my nose. Look at that perfect curve.’

‘This moment with just the two of us. It will never be here again,’ she sighs.

‘I know,’ I whisper back.

So much to do. So little time. What will happen if I just stay here not moving? I kiss her head and feel the soft fuzz of her hair. The ‘nailing it,’ the frantic pace, the ‘live every day as if it’s your last,’ the constant rushing, the hustle…it can wait.

But why does it feel so hard?

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Anniki Sommerville

I'm Super Editor here at SelfishMother.com and love reading all your fantastic posts and mulling over all the complexities of modern parenting. We have a fantastic and supportive community of writers here and I've learnt just how transformative and therapeutic writing can me. If you've had a bad day then write about it. If you've had a good day- do the same! You'll feel better just airing your thoughts and realising that no one has a master plan. I'm Mum to a daughter who's 3 and my passions are writing, reading and doing yoga (I love saying that but to be honest I'm no yogi).

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