We are a week into the New Year and some friends were lamenting the state of their New Year’s Resolutions. All those good intentions, many of them are really good resolutions, are starting to fade. Blogs aren’t being updated and refreshed, exercise classes have been missed, there are only so many cups of green tea a person can drink and those tidy closets look like a storm already – we are only a week in… what is going on? It is really quite simple. We live in a culture that is always striving… we firmly believe that more is better, even though we know this is clearly not the truth, more is often not better at all, but we believe it is. If only we had more stuff, more money, more space, more time… we would all live “happily for ever after…”
Unfortunately, this is not the truth… more is not necessarily better. I am sure we can think of many, many scenarios where more is definitely not better… In fact we don’t actually have to buy into the productivity machine. I often find that in our striving to stay level with “the Jones’s” let alone ahead of them, we quite forget to take care of ourselves. We are so striving to get ahead that we literally fall down exhausted.
I think when your hands are so busy with little people, and believe me little people very quickly become bigger people, we can forget to take care of ourselves. Add in a job, or a blog or both and we are stretched to the limit. Folk the world over are literally exhausted and “never get a moment’s peace…” and yet we sign up for more and more… and those pesky resolutions look like long lists of how to be totally and absolutely perfect at all times. And this is where the striving and “you must be productive during every moment of the day” can get you down… now is definitely my season for lingering a little longer… an extra story, a lazy breakfast… To be honest our home does not need to run like a continuous corporation in order to be a good home. I don’t think our kids really care if the kitchen sink is gleaming when I go to bed, they very much do care if I am late getting going with breakfast.
We live in a world where hard work will get you places, and pushing yourself to the limit and then a bit more is wholly admired. It has got to the stage where if folk weren’t forced to take their annual leave they wouldn’t. It is considered quite normal to work 24/7 and then a bit more. Productivity is the word bouncing around like a great big glorious balloon. There is just one problem, while we were designed to work, we were also designed to rest… not to mention, balloons pop. Study after study shows that folk that play and folk that rest are far more productive than those that don’t… It is time to just slow things down a little, just stop and play folks, even for a moment.
Here’s the thing, it is time to be a little gentler on ourselves and to take better care of ourselves. You don’t need special permission or anyone’s approval to go to bed early or to get outdoors for some fresh air. We are so busy waiting for permission to relax. There are not many people in the world that are ever going to say, “Why don’t you take a break and I will bring in your laundry or do your dishes.” I am not about to pop over and visit and do your laundry, but I am granting permission to anyone that asks… take a break already. I am not talking about languishing for hours while folks bring you tea and chocolates on the couch… For me there is always one more task, one more mess to clean up, one more dish to wash… endless, endless tasks and always that feeling: “better do it now, before it is too late.”
Permission to Take a Break
- Just go to bed: Reward yourself for your day, and get to bed. And if you can’t sleep then read a book. When you run out of sleep get up. So very refreshing to discover I am awake before everyone and I can write a blog post, have a think, plan the day. For years as soon as our kids were in bed… that meant time for me – to think, blog, whatever… the problem is we have teenagers and they don’t ever seem to go to bed!!! For months I was going to bed later and later and literally dragging up in the morning. My clock is changing, there is no chance of a teen wanting to chat in the early hours of the morning and little folk are well trained in sleeping late around here.
- Savour your Space: Next time you clean your lounge, in the one second that it looks spiffy, sit down and enjoy it. Light that pretty candle that you are saving for a special occasion… let this be the special occasion. Just for moment… pick up the beautiful book on the coffee table or look at the view… enjoy it. The bathroom can actually wait for your attention, while you savour a moment in the one clean room. And dare I say, if you ever get round to cleaning the bathroom then take out that pretty soap you got for Christmas, your closet will be fine without it… and use it.
- Crank open your beautiful notebook: You know the one that you have been saving for years to write down something special in it. Now is the time, open it and write something special in it… we are always waiting for something special. I am just saying that “special could very well be now…” A list of dreams, a list of stuff you love… a little snippet of something beautiful you heard. It doesn’t have to be epic and doesn’t have to take ten hours… Really it takes a moment, next time you find yourself putting away a pen or a marker… head straight for your notebook and write something nice in it. You don’t have to write everyday, you don’t have to write a page… but write something and when the going gets tough and you need a break… write something else. Eventually you will have a pile of special word bites and that beautiful notebook will have lived up to its expectations.
- Get Out Doors Already: I know I am a better person for getting outdoors and you would think it would be easy – but I am just quickly doing this and quickly doing that. If you need an excuse then go and check the mail box, just step out of the door and breathe. Sometime during the day I am going to read to my kids and I try and make that happen outdoors… I get my dose of fresh air and they, well my kids don’t know how lucky they are – but rain or shine, they pretty much live outdoors.
- Put that Music On: We have music, heaps of it, but how often do you think to put it on. Music really is the best mood setter ever and when you just can’t face a day put something funky on. Trust me it helps, and if you need inspiration just to get through breakfast then get inspiration and listen to something lovely. Try it and thank me later.
- Schedule an Afternoon Break Before the Madness: Water the garden in summer… have a cocoa in winter. Sit and doodle while you all have a cup of tea… it doesn’t have to be smart and it doesn’t have to be once a week. Stop and catch your breathe. We want our children to grow up to be well rounded adults, they have to see us rest and take a break, the need that example and they aren’t going to get it anywhere else. Some of our kids are masterful at resting (!!!), they need to see the balance between work and play too. It is all very well to give your teens books on careers and productivity and gasp, money management but they need to learn how to live and our example is key to that training.
- Take a Sabbath: I mean it… I don’t do laundry or cook feasts on Sundays. We literally go to church and return home for an easy lunch and a nap… that’s Sunday. Saturdays are filled with chores and projects and friends over for dinner. Mondays are for catching up. But Sundays are strictly for resting. The reward of a day off and that fresh rested feeling to get going with the week far outweighs the alleged benefits of just slogging through.
- As for Blogging: The internet will not die without you, it will not crumble and fall apart… you can actually skip a day when you are tired, a week when you are exhausted, a month when you are on vacation – even if you are vacationing in “Remain-Here.” Let’s face it, we have eight kids… the reality is that I have to blog at night… but I don’t have to blog all night. Somewhere early on, I read a list of things that “our followers need” in order for our blog to be a working entity… stuff like consistent publishing… hello eight homeschooling kids. The only thing consistent in my life is “extremely very totally busy all the time” and that is just the laundry and the dishes. I know I care about the writers behind the blogs that I follow, and over the years I have discovered, in so many astonishing ways, that our readers don’t just read a blog post, they really care about us. They would much rather know that we spent a fab day on the beach playing and a blog post had to wait, than I stayed up all night writing a post, only to be ultra-cranky the next day. It really is time for bloggers to be gentler on themselves. Trust me your followers will continue to follow you, even if you take a leave of absence.
The se7en + 1th…
I guess what I am saying is linger a little longer… if a fine morning coffee is your ritual, then enjoy it. I love a fine morning coffee but I live in a “get up and go” house and the morning rush to get the father person off to work and starving inmates breakfasted, meant that I was always left gulping my coffee on the run, or worse leaving it somewhere and forgetting where I left it for hours. I have learnt… to get the rush over and before I wash the dishes and get going with school, I have a little pause and savour my morning coffee – yes I have to wait for it… but it is so worth slowing down and enjoying it!!!