A Piece of Quiet

This summer has really stretched the limits of my capacity to handle noise and confusion.  With all three kids at home all day long, I’ve about given up on getting any peace and quiet.  I try to get up earlier than everyone, but my three-year-old always seems to find me. I like to stay up after they go to bed, but they don’t usually come in from the outside until 8:30 or 9:00.  By the time they’ve had a snack and a bath and a bedtime story, I’m falling asleep at the wheel.

I feel like I’m NEVER alone.  And it’s wearing on me.  I used to be a social butterfly, but nowadays all I want in the whole wide world is a little bit of peace and quiet.  Okay, so make that A LOT.  A weekend home alone would be a start.

One of my neighbors often takes his boys out for a walk after dinner to give his wife a break.  They will wander up to our block where there are usually parents and kids hanging out, and his little boys will inform us that they are giving mommy “a piece of quiet.”  I love that.

On Monday, I about hit my breaking point.  I emailed my husband at work and begged him to take our kids out anywhere for an hour or so after dinner so I could get a break.  He obliged, bless his heart.  It was heavenly.  I forced myself away from the computer and the kitchen sink, sat down on the couch, and watched a few episodes of the Barefoot Contessa.  It was glorious.  The only problem is, it was over too soon.  But I can’t complain.  That little window of solitude was just what I needed to make it through the rest of the evening.

Last night, my husband offered to take the kids out again.  (And no, you can’t have him.)  They went to the pool, so I got quite a hefty “piece of quiet” as they were gone almost two hours.  I’m thinking we should make this a part of our daily schedule — Mommy Alone Time after dinner every night.  Okay, I won’t push it.  But the last two nights were delightful, I’m just sayin’.

This morning I tried to beat my kids awake, once again.  (Maybe I should reword that.  But you get the point, right?)  When the sun came streaming in the windows at 5:45 and I heard the birds singing, I pulled myself out of bed and came downstairs.  I threw in a load of laundry, put on my workout clothes (if I don’t do it first thing, I never get around to it), and made a half a pot of coffee.  I was just sitting down at the computer with my muffin and coffee when I heard the distinctive sound of a sleepy 3-year-old shuffling down the stairs.  BUSTED!  So much for a piece of quiet.  I fixed her, though.  I went out running/walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes while she sat in front of PBS Kids and fried her brain.  Sometimes a mommy’s gotta do what a mommy’s gotta do.

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27 Responses

  1. As a working mom, I feel guilty when I need those times of peace and quiet. Being at work all day MIGHT be quiet–but it sure ain’t time for me. I think we all crave a little chunk to just do what WE want to do.

  2. I hear you, and I feel the same way. I feel like my summer days are so much longer, and there is very little time without a child awake. I’m gettin away with a friend this weekend – and I think my favorite time will be when I’m in my car alone.

  3. Oh girl I feel you. Some days I don’t really feel like getting up, getting everyone dressed and fed and to daycare by 8am, but it’s worth it for the peace and quiet I get while working from my house. The other days when I have the kids home it can be exhausting. My kids are young yet, so I make them go to bed early still…7 for the 2 yr old and 8 for the 5 yr old. I live for that time at night after they are sleeping.

  4. this is my number one complaint about summer; no alone time. My hubs does the pool thing at night with the kids too, and he’ll go with them to events and leave me home alone, but I always feel like I should be productive during that time. Like laundry or cleaning, or last night painting some outdoor lights.
    Early morning works the best for Me Time..but it has to be really early to beat my early risers.

  5. Boy, do I remember those days. It seems like summertime is especially hard, which is weird because we all look forward to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, right?

    Two things really helped me when my kids were little. I was a part of a “Mom’s Night Out” group–a group of 10-12 moms who met once a month for dinner. NO KIDS INVITED. It was fun and refreshing most of the time (but that’s a long story). The other thing was making plans with one friend every so often to go shopping in the evening. We’d leave as soon as we could, have dinner together, and shop a little bit. Those times really helped clear my head.

    Now, I am alone more than I’d even like to be! 🙂

  6. I’m with you – that’s what I love about nap time!! Although it’s funny, because I just posted about all the NOISES I love during summer! 😉

  7. I read over at Fried Okra (I think that’s where I read it, anyway) a while back that Megan rigged a system to keep her daughter in her room until X o’clock in the mornings. She put a digital clock in her room and wrote 7:00 on a piece of paper and put it by the clock and said when these match, you can come out. If she woke up before then, she was supposed to play quietly in her room until the clock said 7:00. Maybe that won’t work for you, but I thought it was a great idea.

    I know it’s hard to enjoy summer when you feel like you can’t find the time to relax!

  8. You’re frankly a disgrace to women and mothers. I’m tired of “women” screaming for their ‘breaktime’. If you need a break so often, why did you have children and decide to stay home with them? Does your husband decide that he’s tired of going to work and needs a break from it? Think back to our ‘foremothers’. They had multiple children, farms to tend and they didn’t get an evening at the pool, watching tv or lazing on the couch. No, they cooked, cleaned, washed and started all over again without complaining while listening to a child.

    I pity your husband and am ashamed to be a woman with you and those who ‘agree’ with you.

    Sure, I’ll get flamed because that’s what women do but maybe you should try appreciating your family more than disparaging them, trying to get away from them or plotting your escape.

  9. Even as a working mom I need those moments each night. We have a rule that I get 15 minutes when I get home to have quiet and alone. I have to deal with people all day, and they are nick-named “my kids” because keeping track of them is just as hard as keeping track of my kids.

    I hope that things get better, I know the quiet is such a gift. Hopefully your night away will leave you recharged!!

  10. Posting pics from the phone is pretty easy, but I can’t get the messages to post with the pictures. So if you figure that out, let me know. 😉

    Enjoy your quick trip. I love it when Husband takes the kids swimming in the evenings. They have fun, I have a little quiet time (the baby stays home) and they are tired when they return. Works for everyone.

    Sometimes we need a break in order to be a better parent.

  11. Wow Shannon, that was little harsh. I appreciate Jo-Lynne being able to voice what most (apparently not you) of us are feeling. Part of being a good Mom is wanting to be all things to all of our loved ones, and that’s frankly impossible. Summer time is definitely wearing on my nerves as well. Last Friday I had my “for the love of Pete, just take them away” moment. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t committed to your family or appreciative, it means that you are so good at serving others that you rip yourself off. Classic stay at home mom syndrome. Thanks again, Jo-Lynne for your insight that always hits so close to home. Hang in there!

  12. Wow, Shannon. I’m impressed that you’re such a great mom you never, EVER need any time to yourself.

    If you know you’re going to be flamed, maybe you should your comments a LITTLE less demeaning.

  13. Love that giving mummy some piece and quiet – definitely need to drop some hints on this one!

    Enjoy Boston – went there Before Kids – did the tourist thing and visited the “Cheers” bar – got asked to prove I was over 21, even though I was 26! Was allowed in as long as I did not purchase any “intoxicating liquor!” and had my hand stamped just to be sure! I must have looked very young, and very in need of a strong drink!

  14. Thank you Jo-Lynne for being real!

    We tend to glorify the lives of our “foremothers” but we don’t know if they did their jobs with joy all the time. We have no idea if they complained or not. In fact, a lot of them had a lot of misery in their lives and were very bitter about it.
    Your children and husband must be very happy to have the “perfect” woman in their lives.

  15. Just had to jump in one more time to second the 7:00 thing. We started doing that when our kids were about 4, and it helped me out a lot!

    I actually had to read Shannon’s post twice because I thought it was a tongue-in-cheek joke. Apparently not. Even though I’m not one of them, I’m glad to see that there is at least one perfect mother out there. How blessed her children must be.

    You’re doing great, Jo-Lynne. Do what YOU need to do to be the best mom you can be. And hang in there, sister.

  16. Wow.

    Jo-Lynne – Girl, pay no attention to that ONE SINGLE COMMENT from the perfect lady. I can assure you that 98% of us have felt the same way at one time or another. The 2% of women who look at the 98% of us normal ones “as a disgrace” are kidding themselves.

    Keep on being your sweet, brutally honest self.

    Love ya,


  17. Wow! I was going to leave a comment telling you how I appreciate your honesty. The only thing that has kept me from the nut house a couple of days was the love and understanding of my friends and the fact that “the Daddy” comes home and gives fresh life to us. I had a life before kids and I have one now, but I find that I feel like I am not being true to myself (my kids mom) if I don’t get to do something for myself occasionally. I am proud to say, “I need a break from my kids” and “It makes me a better and more tolerant mom”. In conclusion, “YOU ROCK JO-LYNNE! BRING MORE OF WHAT “REAL” MOMS THINK AND FEEL”

  18. I love for my piece of quiet everyday and so wish it could be a true piece. I leave a little early for work each day (I clean a couple of office buildings) which gives me 20-30 min. before my second job starts and I sit in my car and read a book 🙂 I also am really bad about staying up until 2 in the morning because the boys are sleeping…most of the time…and I can surf the internet ALONE. That normally bites me in the butt at 7am when the boys wake me up though LOL

    Seriously, I dream about my birthday all year long because my mom normally gives me a night out in a hotel – it’s my little piece of Heaven every year *sigh*

  19. Jo-Lynne, I hear you. I just read this great article about taking a vacation day over at Overcoming-Busy.com. I had never thought of this idea, until reading her eye-opening article. My husband gets a vacation, why shouldn’t I? Have a wonderful trip!
    And Shannon, I agree with you that making the choice to become a mother does have implications, some of which are: you don’t ever get a break for as long as your children are living, you must always work one more job than your husband–especially if your professional life takes you outside the home, and you don’t get sick-leave, paid-vacation, or breaks Ever. I don’t know about your husband, but mine does decide he needs a break from work sometimes, and he calls it a vacation. Unfortunately, mothers, stay-at-home ones, don’t get sick-leave or paid vacations. And I don’t believe anywhere in the “mother” job description that it says that a mom can’t voice a complaint about the parts of her job she doesn’t prefer. I hope for you, that you understand the parts of life you don’t prefer so you get to enjoy the parts you do like more.

  20. My husband recently took our 3 kids away for an entire WEEK to visit his side of the family several states away. My house was sooooo quiet! I don’t think I’ve been alone for a week EVER in my life. I kept busy painting the entire living room and entryway while they were gone, which was a complete surprise to everyone. Although I did get lonely after a few days, it was also very mentally refreshing… and also good for my kids to just be with daddy I think. I hope they do it again next year! Love your blog!

  21. Guess my husband didn’t get the email about “mommy time” Can you please send it to him again? Thanks!!

  22. You said: “I used to be a social butterfly, but nowadays all I want in the whole wide world is a little bit of peace and quiet.”

    Something about motherhood does that. Maybe it’s that you NEVER get alone time. Don’t we always want what we don’t have? 😉 Apparently, I do.

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