Permission to Take a Break
All work and no play make me irritable.
To be fair, I don’t live in extremes so ‘all’ and ‘no’ aren’t completely accurate, but you know what I mean. I have hit a wall and I know I’m not alone.
Why do I even need a break when all I’ve done the last five months is played every game, assembled every puzzle, mastered sourdough starter, made every recipe with 5 ingredients, planted a garden, created scrapbooks for my kids, etc?
To be fair, I didn’t do all those things, but many of us have and even more while working and raising kids and we wonder why we need a break?
As pleasant as many of those tasks above may seem, when done constantly, they start to lose their appeal. They are no longer treats. They become obligations. For me, few things suck the joy out of experiences more than the sense of obligation.
I have a friend who when her children were young had a tradition on New Year’s Day where the kids could eat anything they wanted and as much as they wanted. Everything was fair game. No rules at all.
Candy – yep.
Ice cream – you bet.
Pasta with maple syrup & sprinkles (Elf anyone?) – why not!
What she found was that before noon, her kids were begging for something healthy.
This is how I’m feeling. I have loved the freedom of fewer demands on my time. A dream if you had asked me five months ago. But now I’m finding it exhausting trying to fill the time with what I once thought ‘fun’.
How do you even take a break when as a result of the pandemic most days are a break from what we once knew to be normal?
How do you take a break when you have extra time on your hands but still haven’t organized the family photos, your emergency preparedness kit or that spare room?
How do you take a break when you have yet to learn another language, start a new workout routine or become an accomplished chef?
How do you take a break when your website isn't finished, your lesson plans aren't created and your business plan is in limbo?
How do you take a break when you are juggling full-time work but the kids are home ALL THE TIME and need some sort of supervision (summer) or the kids are home ALL THE TIME and need another sort of supervision (online school).
Short answer and shameless steal from Nike, you just do it.
But for those of us women who are the thread that hold our family together (whether true or not, it’s what many of us believe), it’s not so simple.
If you are waiting for the right time, I hate to be the bearer of even more bad news, but I'm not sure there is ever a right time.
I know I’m not alone. I have heard from many women these past two weeks who need a break.
This is always true for women, but this time feels different. Many of us believe we need to be strong for those around us. We believe we need to have all the answers. We believe we need to ‘be there’ for everyone else, but we’re not taking the time to ‘be there’ for ourselves.
And let’s not forget, we are also confused angry, sad, scared and don’t know what’s next.
So, what’s keeping us from taking a break?
Fear of wasting time? Maybe.
Fear of being judged? Possibly.
After lamenting to more than one colleague and having received coaching and coached clients on this very topic, I realize what’s missing for me and that would be doing absolutely NOTHING. A bonus if I could do absolutely nothing all by myself.
Yep, you read that correctly, NOTHING. What that means to me is having no plan. No time blocked to accomplish anything in particular. Instead, it’s listening to my inner self and really hearing and honoring what I need right now.
But here’s the kicker…doing it without any guilt, judgment or regret. Now you’re talking.
It took some reflection for me to tackle this hurdle but I realized I never judge myself or feel judged when I go on vacation. I never feel like I’m wasting time on vacation. So why am I thinking it now?!?
What I need right now is to stop thinking. To stop trying to accomplish something. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do the remainder of the month. I’m giving myself permission to take a break with no guilt, judgment or regret.
I’m taking my virtual vacation via audiobook. I’ve replaced my educational podcasts with escapism novels. These last few weeks, I traveled virtually to India, Australia, Kentucky and currently England. I’m heading back to India shortly.
I’ve slept in and enjoyed mid-day iced Vietnamese salted coffee on the patio in this blistering heat. I even escaped for a few hours for a local get away by myself.
What I suggest above may seem impossible. I know some of you are teachers and/or parents and the school year is beginning. I sincerely wish you good luck. So instead I ask you, what is possible?
Can’t make it happen during the week. How about the weekend? How about an evening?
If you are at a breaking point or feeling irritable, perhaps it’s time for you to take a break as well.
What do you need?
For some of us, this pandemic will be the toughest experience we live through. Many of us have or will experience loss of some sort. My wish for each of you is to do your best, be kind to yourself and to those around you and give yourself permission to take a break.