How does the saying go—“no rest for the weary”?
Or is it “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?”
I’ve noticed that we, as a society, place little to no importance on solid R & R in our daily lives—-what the Italians call “dolce fa niente,” or the sweetness of doing nothing. I believe the term we call it is “down time.”
We are rarely unencumbered by the yoke of the nagging to-do list; our minutes and hours are full to the brim with the cyclical here-to-there—bed, work, home, repeat. For those of us caught in the hamster wheel of life, we frequently suffer from this insatiable wanderlust (even more so after nearly 18 months of quarantine life) and often seek out zen places that can bring us back and center us.
I’ve always found a cure for the blues is wandering into something unknown, and resting there, before coming back to whatever weight you were carrying.-Diane Sawyer-
Now that I’ve gotten those admissions out of the way, I’ll go straight to the one that’s got me in knots lately—-when raising tiny humans, there is simply no time for “down time.”
I’ve applauded the SAHM&D’s before for their resilience—somehow managing to rock it as domestic goddesses, caretakers, chauffeurs, and chefs, all while managing to avoid taking up an addictive habit or eating all the chocolate in the pantry. Y’all are warriors.
Some of us working “9-to-5” parents, who only see the whole fam in slices—at wake up, before bed, and on weekends—may not have this thing down quite like you do, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I discovered this truth with our first, and it has been solidly reinforced with our second, never more so than during my “teacher summers” off or when one (or in my unlucky present circumstances, both) is ill. We seem to be lucky winners of the Daycare Sickness Lottery.
I never realized the level of anxiety I’m constantly feeling as a mom, and how important “down time” can be in smoothing out a rumpled spirit. Not just once in a blue moon, when your hair looks like you stuck your finger in a socket and someone uses the irritating advice of needing “self-care.” Real, honest, down time.
I know some will say “you’re blessed to be a mother,” or “enjoy the mess because you won’t have it for long,” but it’s also okay to allow us to say that we’ve had enough for one day; simply support us and ask what you can do to help us before we implode. It’s more common when new parents have their baby, for family and friends to offer up their assistance, but it’s honestly still just as beneficial to ask the mom of two, who has been at this a few years, if she’d like to just take a hot shower without interruption or have some quiet time to read that book that doesn’t have anything to do with tractors or unicorns. It doesn’t take long, but it’s healing, and necessary.
I’m sure there are Mamas and Daddies out there who can admit that they don’t always feel like the best version of themselves. Even more so, that they don’t get to be themselves, because of all the hats they have to wear. Not all of us has an Incredible Hulk-sized neck to support the weight of it. I have no shame in admitting that, when my spouse is gone during the day or working out of town on the weekends that I may have to step away for a minute and just have a good ole fashioned cry, or that I encourage both of my kids to nap (even though one is going on 8yrs old and thinks it’s no longer necessary) just so I can have a quiet minute. I ask for time for hot baths or to get my toenails painted, just so I can untangle myself and reset. He’s a great help at giving me those leisure minutes when he can.
We all need it.
For all of you who are on empty, like I am, find a way to unwind.
Mend. You’re no use to anyone, least of all yourself, when your clock is wound too tightly.
Take time to make “down time.”