On Why I Enjoy Being A "Stay-At-Home-Girlfriend"
Almost three months ago, I officially became a "Stay-at-home-Girlfriend" (SAHG). While at some point in my life I dreamt of becoming a full time wife, in reality this is not what I really want. I left home to work abroad when I was 24 and I have been supporting myself (and my family) since. I am proud to say that even when I was married, I paid the bills, paid my share on the rent and bought food and stuff for the house. So when the reality of potentially not finding a job in New Zealand finally sank in, I panicked silently. I hate the thought of being completely financially dependent on anyone. Besides, I know that I am a very capable person and therefore I should be doing something out there in the world and not in the house. At the moment though, I am struggling to find a job in Wellington. Honestly, I am getting really frustrated but on the other hand, the opportunity of being alone for 10 hours a day is only temporary and it may never come again, so I might as well enjoy this job-free life while I can.
Now you may ask, "how do you survive 10 hours on your own without going crazy and feeling lonely?". I don't survive, I live. And being alone doesn't mean I am lonely. And yes I've gone crazy, crazy over the fact that I have plenty of time in my hands to do whatever I want. But seriously speaking, this experience of being a SAHG has given me more opportunity to reflect on my life, focus on what's really important, reconnect with myself and enjoy the things I couldn't enjoy thoroughly when I was working such as:
1. More "me time" than I ever needed
Self help books and articles online can't emphasize enough how important it is to have time for yourself. I sort of have neglected this all these years because I am a needy person and I've always felt the need to be surrounded by people to the point that my own happiness depended on making these people happy. And then one day, I found myself immersed in my thoughts and became oblivious to what was going on around me. Even just for a short period of time, I didn't have a care in the world. All I could think of was me, myself and I. It felt so good and since then I knew I found a new bestfriend in me and ... in solitude.
So what exactly do I do during "me time"?
Look for a job. This has to be on top of my list as it takes most of my "me time" and it's my priority at the moment. I spend at least 5 hours a day browsing job websites in Wellington, revising my CV and writing cover letters then sending them to different companies and/or recruitment agencies. I never had to do this much work in finding a job, so this experience is definitely teaching me some hard lessons.
Clean and organise our flat. I honestly don't even need to do this everyday because luckily J and I are very tidy people, but I still do because I find cleaning therapeutic and I simply love seeing our flat in an orderly manner. It makes me very happy. I guess if there is one thing that stresses me the most, it would be a messy place. And I am glad that it doesn't take that much effort to keep our flat sparkling clean.
Besides cleaning, I also do other houselhold chores on a daily basis and run some errands on some days.
Read and write. I finally have time to sit in the house and read a book, unlike in London where I only read a book when I was traveling or killing time at a cafe. I also now have time to read news online, read articles related to my speciality (yes, because I promised myself to learn more about aortic diseases and be a "real" expert on it), and read about Sarah Geronimo (because I'm a Popster), Kris Aquino (because I like her, ha-ha-ha) and Digong Duterte (because he is fierce and he looks like a "tatay ng bayan"). I also read on some random things when lurking on Facebook.
I am also currently writing/editing a book- sort of. It's actually from one of my blogs but I decided to make it into a book just in case God forbids something unexpected happens to that website and it shuts down. Then at least I have everything that I have written in memory of our dear Keith.
And of course, I write on this blog too.
Exercise. I don't actually need to be a stay-at-home girlfriend to stay healthy because I was doing regular exercises even when I was working. But having extra time means that I can do more than my morning crunches and my regular runs. I actually attend regular gym classes on top of our regular gym sessions.
Contemplate. While in the past I did my reflections mostly when I was running or doing some household chores, now I can actually sit quietly in our balcony with the view of the harbour and contemplate on life.
Speak to my family and friends. It's an advantage that I am at home during the day because of the time difference. I find it easier to speak to my family in the Philippines (via facebook video-calling) and to my sister from another mother in San Diego (via facetime). While I mostly initiate the call to my family, my Ading A calls me whenever she can (at least once a week). I really appreciate her effort because although I have been doing exceptionally well without friends over here, I still needed that extra boost from my long distance friends. I'm also glad that I am in regular contact with some other friends via text messages.
Lurk on Facebook and Instagram. To be honest, I am actually spending less and less time on social network these days. I mean I still post regularly especially on instagram but I no longer spend a lot of time going through my feed unlike before.
And that's basically more or less what I do in my alone time.
2. Early mornings with J
When I was working, I often left the house when J was still asleep so we didn't have much time for each other in the mornings. Now that I am unemployed, we actually wake up at the same time every morning unless I need to run some errands in the day then I would get up earlier than him. I love the fact that we get to talk about our dreams when we wake up, share a bit of laughter (and cuddles) and do some funny things before we get out of bed. There is nothing better than to start the day with so much love, laughter and positivity.
3. Doing things at a slower pace
In London, I felt like I was always chasing time. I was constantly rushing and multi-tasking. There was this constant need to accomplish so many things in a very short period of time. I used to bump my knees and my elbows all the time because of stress. This is a true stress indicator for me. Once I start hurting myself and become clumsier, I know that my stress levels are high. Right now in Wellington, I am glad that I am finally able to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
As soon as I took over our kitchen, I realised why I never enjoyed cooking in the past. It's because I was missing the most important ingredient of all - tender, loving care. I used to cook haphazardly and I always felt like I didn't have much time and energy because most of the cooking happened after work. And now that I actually have extra time, apart from being able to cook every night for the both of us, I can actually cook my favourite brunch meal for myself.
5. Dressing up effortlessly
There is no doubt that I love to dress up, but I am enjoying the fact that I do not have to worry about what to wear everyday. Nowadays I live in my gym clothes and I am loving it. Less effort, less stress. This also means that I am perfectly blended into my community.
Somehow my plan to volunteer escaped my consciousness when I received my work visa. I was suddenly preoccupied with my desire to find a paid employment. Until six weeks into my job hunting and my applications were being rejected one after the other. I got really frustrated and thought that if my knowledge, skills and experience are not good enough for these companies, I might as well use them to make a difference in some place where I know they will be greatly appreciated. And so I applied for a volunteer job and got accepted. For the meantime, I've committed two days a week but I know that this will change once I find a job.
7. The break from social life
If there is one thing that I am very generous with, it's definitely time. I love spending time with people that are important to me whether physically or virtually. That's why no matter how busy I am, I always make sure that I find time for them. Reflecting on my social life in London, I almost always had a full social calendar. This was on top of my full time job and on being a girlfriend to someone. As much I enjoyed socialising, it was physically, mentally and financially exhausting. Now that I know how it's like to be alone and actually loving it, I will be wiser when I go back to London. I plan to only spend time on those who can sustain me.
There you go. Until I get that phone call offering me an interview and hopefully eventually a job, I will make the most out of those things that I mentioned above.