Its Pantomime time in our house….yes before you say it …on no it isn’t….oh yes it really is. What that means is that for the last few months, I’ve had at least a couple of hours a week where I go off to our local lovely, but antiquated, play house and make up dances and sing along with the pantomime chorus, 15 children aged between 11 and 15. I’m the choreographer, general chorus supervisor and chaperone. This is right up my street, appealing to my love of theatre and dance, both of which I adored and was quite good at, in my youth. It’s my “me time”.
What it means to my family is they lose me for a minimum of two hours a week, escalating to quite a few more around the time of final rehearsals and performances. It a bit of a balancing act, sometimes I take one of the children with me, if it’s not going to be late, sometimes I have to leave early. Luckily the people I work with generally understand and I always try very hard to ensure they are left with something to do under someone else’s guidance. I think only once during this production, have I had to phone and say, at short notice, that I was unable to come due to things going on at home.
It’s my fifth year of doing it and actually last year I also produced a youth play with some of the children, well teenagers, that I work with in the pantomime. We did Danny the Champion of the World, rather superbly, even if I do say so myself. Sometimes it’s stressful, sometimes I feel like a grumpy grown up repeatedly asking the kids to concentrate, stop talking, put their phones down, but, the majority of the time, I thoroughly enjoy it. I get a great sense of achievement from it, it’s a sociable activity and for however long I’m there I don’t get a chance to think about home. For me the switch off time is what is really important.
Parents the world over think lots and lots about their children, worry about them, contemplate how to solve their problems and give them the greatest of opportunities, so they can reach their maximum potential. I’m no different, whilst drinking my morning cup of tea, then as I sort the washing, go for a run, make the breakfast/ lunch/diner, food shopping, occasional bits of house work (very occasional) and worst, in the middle of the night. All this thinking, contemplating and mulling this and that over, even during the good times, can be mentally exhausting. Throw in some extreme behaviour, a bout of depression, a husband facing stresses at work and the processing of thoughts can become crippling. So switch off time or “me time”, has become crucial to my survival.
So this weekend will be the last of the Pantomime performances, and after Saturday night my family will have me back. I know one of my boys particularly finds it hard when I go out in the evening; he is sometimes still awake when I return. I do feel guilty knowing this and it is hard to deal with at times. However, I’m also acutely aware that without creating some space to “switch off” I really cannot be as good a parent as I would like to be. Realising this has been a hard slog but I think I’ve accepted and understood it more this year than ever before. Pantomime this year really has been a life saver some days. After a few hours away I return feeling able to take it all on again.
So making space for my mind to be creative and stimulated, outside of the home, is an important thing for me to do. My family might not find it easy, and juggling the home time and me time is a fine art, however the pantomime might be over but I’m already plotting my next “me time” move.
I’ve linked this post to #TheThingsWeDo