So, you know that expression, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead?” Yah well, it’s this expression that has pretty much sent me into overdrive. I look at my peers around me, and many of them live by this attitude. The husbands are A athletes, cyclists, skiers. The wives are tennis players, exercisers etc… (and so are their kids, by the way). They are from this mindset– I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. They Go Go Go. Hard. They are in words of Charlie Sheen, Winning.
And then there’s me… I guess somewhere in the middle– an A player or flat out D player, on any given day.
Monday comes around every seven days, just as it did today. It’s back to the regularly scheduled routine. And when I say scheduled, I mean SCHEDULED. Our lives are jam packed with schedules. Our kids’ schedules are “over-scheduled.” Maybe even scheduling sex with your partner is something you’ve resorted to doing in order to stay connected. Life can often feel a lot like a rat race, and the speed in which we move through the days, weeks and months, can start to feel overwhelming.
But here is where this blog post is going. Here is where I sit on the fence: Weekends. Downtime. Unscheduled time. What do you do? How do you pass the time?
I would say, crazy neurotic me, calls her mom (real life therapist) at least once a weekend, to rehash the same old issue: Relaxation Guilt.
The conversation goes something like this:
Me: “Mom, it’s already 11:30am, we’re still in pj’s, it’s gorgeous outside, we need to get fresh air and do something productive, but no one wants to move. Everyone’s tired. At what point do I enforce activity, and at what point do I surrender and let everyone hang like vegetables?”
Mom: “Let everyone relax and regroup. The weeks are crazy, nothing wrong with laying low and letting the kids enjoy.”
Me: ” Yah but, they’re indoors all week and I feel like we should be productive. I feel guilty when we sit around and do nothing.”
And so the back and forth– her trying to tell me, if the inactivity bothers me so much, get up and get moving– which we do of course. There’s usually hockey or skiing to get to. But the truth is, if we DON’T have a scheduled activity like hockey, or skiing, I have a hard time relaxing and regrouping. I know we need it, but I feel like we should be doing something productive. Is it my craziness or do you feel the same way? Judging from the people I interviewed for this blog post, many of you also suffer with the inability to take the time, and JUST BE. Many of you complained about not being able to relax without feeling guilty.
There is a such a strong temptation to fill our lives, (and our kids’ lives) with activities, so that no time is wasted. We’ve become very efficient at being efficient. In fact, at a recent parenting conference I attended, many mom are ticked off by hearing, “I’m bored,” from their children. I know I never complained I was bored growing up. But the facilitator explained the importance of being bored. Kids today don’t have enough boredom, and so when there’s downtime, they literally don’t know what to do with themselves. We adults are guilty of it it too. However, there is nothing wrong with a little every now and then– for anyone.
It’s truly a fine line. So if you want to learn how to relax without feeling guilty, here are some tips:
- Commit your schedule to relaxing. Seriously, just as you’ve pencilled in your son’s karate class at 9am, block off a chunk of time Saturday afternoon, for example, for doing nothing. Commit to relaxing.
- Make a point of being physically active with your family early in the weekend if possible: If you’re like me, and feel the guilt from lying around (even though we know everyone deserves downtime), do something active as a family on Saturday morning, for example, so you’ve got your fresh air and activity out of the way, squashing guilt to make room for couch time.
- Understand your body REQUIRES downtime. Our bodies– our physical and mental bodies are not meant to be physically active and under stress 24/7. That is why sleep is so imperative to good health. When our body gets the rest and downtime it requires, it gets refueled for creativity. Understand R & R is mandatory for good health– and this will decrease feelings of guilt.
- Exercise without “rules.” On the weekends, go with the attitude that “activity is activity.” Try and lax up on the rules. We were feeling lazy this weekend, so for us, no rules meant going in the driveway and picking up a hockey game with the neighbors. We did nothing but hang out in the driveway all day Saturday. But we did it guilt free, knowing we were going skiing on Sunday. Free play is for everyone– board games, cards, relaxing, shooting hoops with your son, no rules.
- Accept that you are human and always doing the best you can in any moment, under any given circumstance. When it all feels like too much- it usually means it is. That is when surrender is the best answer, and that is when you must just “be.” When writers experience writer’s block, when a pregnant woman is put on bed-rest, when an athlete tears a muscle, when creativity juices stop flowing, it’s one’s body telling them it’s just all too much at that given moment. When this happens, just stop. There’s always tomorrow.
Tell us, do you feel guilty for relaxing? Are you on the fence about how much down time is too much? How much activity do you do on the weekends? Any tips you’d like to share with our community about balancing it all?