Mondays are my day off. I only work Tuesday to Friday. But the weekend means that everyone is off school (one daughter at the local primary, one daughter at the local secondary, and my husband at another secondary) and so, while I love my family with a passion, I have two roles to play – wife and mum. This is a luxury and I’m certainly not complaining but I couldn’t do it without my Mondays.
This may sound familiar to those of you who are natural introverts (and the extroverts? Do you need this time as well?). This extreme need for solitude. No forcing a cheery smile, taking responsibility for anyone else’s wellbeing, letting anyone’s spoken thoughts interrupt your own often scattered train of thinking or running to a timetable that doesn’t suit. Just a recharging of batteries to fortify me for the rest of the week.
My Mondays don’t follow a routine. But here’s how they might turn out after I’ve waved the last family member out of the door at 8.30.
I might dress up a bit and head out on a bus to Bristol, my nearest town. I stick my headphones in, my sunglasses on and look forward to a few hours of the old me. The one who lived alone in a draughty flat for five years, spent more than I should have on clothes, jewellery and boots; went to concerts most weeks; and hit up the cafes and book shops when I could. I walked or cycled the busy, hilly streets for miles each day and enjoyed the anonymity that just isn’t possible in the village where I live now. These days I’ll often combine the trip with seeing my best friend for a cuppa or two. We lose track of time and talk non-stop. Bliss.
Some weeks I will have a surge of energetic focus. These are the times when I head out for a run in the woods or a just long walk through the fields; fill several carrier bags with stuff destined for the charity shop and blitz the house. I get a supreme sense of accomplishment on those days.
And then there’s days like today. Once I’d sorted the laundry, the washing up and the slow cooker I took refuge on the sofa with plump cushions, fluffy blankets, a paperback, a mug of coffee and the cat. With a gloomy sky and a gusty wind hurling rain against the windows I turned the thermostat up and snuggled myself down. I ignored the doorbell and phone and lost myself in my book. I actually fell asleep for a couple of hours.
3.30 signals the start of children coming home and often going back out, packed lunch boxes to wash up, days to hear about, conversations that start: Pick your socks up! Do you have homework? Yes I can sign your form. You need what for tomorrow? Really? Where’s your sports kit/swimming kit/wellies? Clear your damn room! Then there’s dinner to prepare, eat and clean up after. And all the usual gloriously chaotic, necessary and lively faff that comes with a family of four people, a dog and a cat whirls me back into the world of others again. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.