I am just back from my annual jaunt to the French Alps without my family. Early each March I meet myself coming back as I try to organise my life to run without me for a few days. I cook and clean and call in favours. I placate complaining children who are unsympathetic to my need for time without them. I force the guilt aroused by my self indulgent frolic to cower in a dark corner of my overcrowded mind and I leave without a backwards glance.

And whilst I am away I gradually relax and remember who I am when I’m not mummy and wife and housewife. I don’t react if a child calls for help because it isn’t me that they want. I make decisions without considering anyone else, selfish decisions that feel strange to start with but quickly allow me to feel in control of my own destiny in a way that I rarely do at home. And I think. I am able to think because my mind is not jammed with who needs to be where and what’s for tea and whether everyone has a clean shirt. My mind becomes free for my own thoughts, private thoughts that might otherwise get lost.

Skiing is the perfect activity for thinking. Those vast blue skies and white tipped mountains are so awe-inspiring that the mundanity of life is forgotten. Long, lonely drag lifts with nothing to do but not fall off provide the perfect opportunity to unravel complicated decision making. The cool mountain air brings a clarity to my thought processes that I struggle to achieve at home.  I gradually slip back to being the real me, the one that I like to think I am deep down inside. That me is calm and unflustered. She doesn’t bark orders or have ‘no’ as a default setting. She can think things through to the end without interruption and then act on those thoughts. The trouble is that I only manage to be that person for a few weeks each year. I do have to ask myself if the real me isn’t actually the one with the exploding head and the loud voice.

I always try to come home from time away with something learned or discovered. This time I have decided that I have to make time for my mind to be quiet in and amongst the cacophony of my life or I may drive myself mad. I need an on/off switch. Because what is the point of having thoughts if they are never properly formed, having ideas that get forgotten in the melee of family life? I need to find a way to block out the noise sometimes and let the mountain air whistle through my mind whilst I’m standing in my kitchen. I’m not sure how to achieve it but it must be done before the noise drowns out everything else.