As a busy mum, I'm always interested in finding ways to make my life easier. So when Kimora Lee Simmons (you know her. Oh hang on. You don't? Actually, neither do I) advised women to 'take time out for themselves by meditating in the toilet' (see the link on mamamia here) I took note.
What a fabulous idea.
Aside from the quite unappealing concept of meditating in the toilet (does she mean on the toilet? Or sitting on the bathroom floor? Or perhaps in the actual bath? Filled with water or empty???) the concept is patently ridiculous. For a start, if you can take a half an hour out for yourself in the toilet, wouldn't it be nicer to do it in some, slightly more salubrious, environment? Perhaps... you know... like that room in the house with a bed instead of a loo?
Secondly - what kind of children actually leave their mothers alone in the bathroom? Do the offspring of celebrities have different qualities - for example, not being able to use a door handle? My children (whose parents are, sadly, not celebrities) have been opening doors since they could crawl. And the last moment I had uninterrupted time in the toilet - whether to meditate or do those other things one generally does in a toilet - probably dates from about that same time.
Now, clearly it is vital to have time alone. But as any (non-celebrity) mother will tell you, it ain't going to happen in the bathroom. Kids know when we are on the toilet, just like they know when we are on the phone, or that we are having sex. And they interrupt. They barge in. They halt procedings (or watch, in the case of toilet time. Not, please goodness, sex). The last time I tried to take a bath, for example, I was joined after 15 minutes by a boisterous toddler, who apparently had just done a poo and wanted her bottom cleaned. Marvellous. Just what I'd envisioned for my relaxing soak in the tub.
So when do I get my precious time out? Um... usually at about Not o'clock on the 2nd of Never. But occasionally I do slip in moments of solitude. Every morning, for example, I insist on sitting at the table to drink my coffee and read the paper, just for five minutes. No matter how rushed we are, no matter what is going on around me, I need to have that time. It helps me to feel like a person, and not just a mother, even if I only get a chance to look at the headlines (and yes, I am using the word 'headlines' in its well known sense of 'pictures').
I go for walks whenever I can, often very fast, particularly when moving away from the house and my children are running after me. I lie on the floor in my office and stare at the ceiling for ten minutes, just thinking about my life, and not thinking at all. And I play loud music in the car and sing to myself, before I pick up my kids and they tell me I am hurting my ears.
It's vital to have time alone. But please, as a mother, as a father, as a person - don't listen to Kimora Lee Simmons. You deserve better than a toilet. As she says, it doesn't need to be a spa, but somewhere where people don't necessarily wipe their bottoms is good. A park. Your bed. The couch. A coffee shop.
Or ten minutes on the floor in your room. It's relaxing, it's recharging, it's energising, and it's free.
Just make sure you lock the door.