You can't beat a little bit of me-time

I've been baching it this week and I'm not going to lie to you - it's been great.

Yip, just me and the cat. I've had the whole bed to myself (except that one night where I foolishly left a door open and someone decided to lay claim to vast portions of the bed and then wake at 5.30am and want to look at the neighbours out the window) so I've had blissful uninterrupted sleep. No-one waking me at 6.15am telling me he's done poos . . . or waking at 4.30am wanting a tissue to blow his nose.

Don't get me wrong, I love my wife and our two angels, but sometimes one's company is the best kind.

Work commitments got in the way of getting out of town so someone decided to bundle up the little munchkins and head off for something of a "break".

I'm not sure how much of a relaxing holiday she'll be able to have with a 1- and 3-year-old, but she's kicking around with good mates Captain Kim, Party Marty, and Sim, who also have children - plus Aunty Leigh - so there are plenty of people to keep them occupied.

I'm planning to take some chill- time next month - a golf tournament in Queenstown is calling - but hopefully we'll also get some kind of family holiday. We certainly need it.

But in the short term, I actually feel as though I've had a bit of a break, even though I've still worked right through the festive period. It's surreal waking up in the morning after a bit of a lie-in (as in 7.30am), with no kids to get ready in the morning. I've actually got plenty of time - without any need for rush, getting to work is a leisurely experience.

And after work it's even weirder. There's a surprising amount of serenity. Sure, there's no little guy rushing at me for a cuddle, and no little girl kicking her feet excitedly in her high chair, just a cat angling to get a pat and some food, but it's so peaceful. Like I said, I love my kids dearly, but some alone time has been quite therapeutic.

Not only do things feel calmer and less frantic, but I've also managed to get a lengthy selection of to-do things crossed of what used to seem to be a neverending list.

Order is being restored and I feel a greater level of control over life - and nature, because the garden seems almost in order.

It's not like I've spent a lot of time doing things on the list too - it's more that the time I've had has been uninterrupted. Rather than having to sort out the young 'uns, I've been able to focus on one task at a time and tick them off.

I'm sure more things will be added to the list once they get home, but for a short time at least it's manageable. It's certainly a good way to start 2014, a year that I hope will bring less illness, less whingeing (I'm talking about you Zach), and more joy and laughter to our family.

Ironically, this week alone has made me realise I need to spend more time with my wife, just the two of us, and more time doing things as a family, once someone starts walking of course. It's not that I've missed them, don't get me wrong, it's more of a realisation that I should make the most of time I do get to spend with them.

Mark Hotton is a fulltime journalist/short-term bachelor who values his me-time, even if admitting that gets odd looks from most people. Except some blokes. Who just have jealous looks. You know who you are.

The Southland Times