Happy March Break everyone! I am happy to say that we are enjoying a “staycation” while in the midst of a huge kitchen and main floor renovation. My husband and I both love to travel, but this year our growing family means we wanted to make a few changes to our cozy home by switching up the floor plan to make things more open and functional.
Over the past month life has been a bit crazy; our son started daycare, I went back to work and we started a kitchen reno, amongst other crazy things that I will share soon. It’s safe to say that amidst all of this chaos my body decided that I needed to realize that it’s alright to relax. So instead of fighting it, wallowing in my perpetual guilt over what’s not getting done, I’ve decided to accept the fact that relaxing in any way that works is not only ok, but actually really necessary and productive.
If you’re like me, you will try to keep going until sickness or exhaustion sets in and your body forces you to take a break. Well, recently both sickness and exhaustion have lead me to finally stop hustling during every possible free moment and begin to embrace and even reap the benefits of a little R & R. So what does relaxing look like for me? Doing nothing. La dolce fare niente! Or in other words, doing something that feels like doing nothing. Here are a few ways that I like to relax.
Getting over the Guilt
At first the rest was happening involuntarily, I was just collapsing on to the couch out of exhaustion and realizing it was needed that day. I did, however, start to feel guilty about what wasn’t getting done during those brief moments of rest. I should be working on this, or I should clean that. Then one Sunday afternoon when I fell asleep on the couch, my little guy napping beside me, I realized at this moment while we were resting together, that this was ok. That even though the laundry wasn’t done, my lunch wasn’t ready for work the next day and there were plenty of things I “should” be doing, that resting so I could be more present later was more important than all of that.
Ok so “couch time” is probably a staple in many homes, you know that time when the kids are in bed, you’ve cleaned up after dinner, your makeup is off and you can just sink into the “quicksand” that is your couch. Well couch time has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I’ve managed to slot in an extra hour of couch time between picking up my little guy and starting dinner. At first this was something that just started to happen because my body was giving out and I needed to sit for a few minutes before I could continue with the second half of my day. Yup, after work the day seems to begin again when you have a little one, snack time, play time, dog walks, dinner prep, bath and bedtime. It’s like a whole other day. Well, doing this straight through wasn’t working anymore as I was barely making it to dinner. So I started to schedule in a bit of rest. I planned it into my day so that it worked and that little bit of rest was all I needed to give me the energy I wanted and needed for playing with my son, prepping dinner and bedtime routines. So I scheduled a little couch time in before the usual couch time and it’s made a world of difference.
Getting back on my Mat
Before my son was born, yoga had been a regular part of my life. I taught classes for years, volunteered at my favourite studio weekly, and took classes regularly. Exercise and meditation were scheduled into my week, they were never really an option, just something I did. When our son was born, getting back into a routine was difficult. I found it hard to leave the house with a somewhat demanding breastfeeding schedule and the idea of planning to leave to do a class during bedtime became a source of stress. I have no idea how yoga became stressful, something that had always helped me reduce stress levels, but it did. Over the past few weeks I have made a conscious effort to get back on my mat, not to push myself in terms of flexibility, weight loss or toning, but to give my mind a chance to rest. This too has given me a lot more energy and genuinely makes me happy.
Walks and Playtime
Having a family dog is a lot of work, keeping the furniture clean in the spring is a bit of a nightmare, but the benefits of a dog far outweigh the drawbacks. Taking our dog for a walk forces us to get outside almost every day! It’s funny when you sit back and realize that in a work week you could spend as little as a few minutes a day outside, and that’s only getting in and out of your car. Charlie gets us outside and gets us all walking, which is something that helps me relax while allowing my husband and I to have some much needed conversations that don’t revolve around household chores. We can actually talk! Playtime is also a great way to relax while spending time with our little guy. It can be scheduled in like a trip to the park while on a walk or spontaneous, like taking a break between snack and dinner prep to get on the floor and read or play. I find that my husband and I use the pillows in our son’s play area more than he does!
Ok so I realize that you can’t do all of the things I’ve listed in one day, but you can mix them up throughout your week. For me it’s often a choice between “tea o’clock” or a little extra couch time. Tea o’clock is something I started to enjoy during nap time on my mat leave. The little bit of time between around 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm when a nice warm cup of tea is exactly what you need. Tea also forces me to take a break for some reason. The act of making the tea and then slowly sipping it feels like a built in break.
Taking a Bath
Now this is not baby bath time, this is me time bath time! While I realize that taking a bath is not for everyone, it works for me. Giving myself that little bit of time before bed to light some candles, read a book and just float seems to give me a similar kind of stress relief that I get from the meditation portion of a yoga class. Bébé de Luxe, a company that I will be featuring this spring, has some fantastic mom and baby products that are perfect for this.
It’s taken me a while, and I don’t even know if I fully grasp the benefits of relaxing just yet, but I can say that scheduling in time to rest has actually made me feel a lot more energized and helps to reduce stress.
How do you relax? Would love to hear some of your favourite ways of taking a break from a busy week or day.