The Art of Enjoying Downtime

Every blue moon, some weekend I am fortunate to have a couple of hours with no kids, no cleaning to do (there’s always cleaning to do but sometimes I pretend there isn’t), no one to cook for, gym has been checked off that morning and the kids even made their bed and put away their junk: that is what I call it these days. So I think “Yesssssssssss, finally,  ME TIME!”  For days I plan on the things I would do on these very special and sporadic occasions:

  • Read one of the 8 books that have been collecting dust on my nightstand
  • Watch back to back episodes of Ellen De Generes, the Good Wife, Downton Abbey or whatever the DVR didn’t erase.
  • Take my camera to the Wine Country or some pretty gardens and practice my very rusty photography skills.
  • Go to a nice quiet coffee shop (NOT Starbucks) and read while sipping my favorite coffee.
  • Go bike riding with absolutely no plans.

But then, I see a layer of dust and lint just under  the edge of my bed, so I go fetch the little vacuum cleaner. On my way I see kids clothes out of place, so I grab them and turn back to put them in their closets. Then I will notice dishes that need to be done, the kind that I will NOT put in the dishwasher. It is just 2 or 3, how long can it take?  Then I start craving something sweet, so I take out a recipe book and start baking a cake. While it bakes I think it is sinful to just sit and wait, so I am pretty efficient and see if there’s dirty laundry that can be started while the cake bakes. By the time the cake is done and the laundry is started but undone, it is time to go get the kids. Then I panic because I completely forgot to figure out dinner. But we COULD have cake for dinner , right?  Wrong!  So I end up with a dirty kitchen, a delicious cake, wet laundry and hungry kids.

We end up going out for dinner, and while happy for not having to do more dishes, I feel guilty for not having prepared a hearty home made meal.

What is it that makes it so hard for me to surrender myself to house chore abandon and just accept and enjoy these precious hours when I am completely free: free of the MOM word, free of the disinfectant spray, free of the stove and the cleaning rag. Does anyone relate? Is there such thing as a subconscious attachment that has invisible but strong ropes that keep pulling us back to the motherly or housekeeping and boring world? You’d think we are getting paid!

There is one person in this world that actually cares about my lack of self-inflicted rest, about my not letting go of the cleaning supplies during the ME TIME, and that is my husband. If there is someone in this world that knows how to enjoy down time, it is him. Is that a guy thing too? He has actually taken naps. NAPS!!!!!!!!!!  A Nap in the middle of a slow afternoon. I drool over the thought. I think I have taken maybe 3 or 4 naps in 10 years. Naps are refreshing, they help up ‘charge our batteries’, they just feel good. Yet, the knowledge of the many things to be done in the house works as espresso shot through an IV for me if I try to nap. NO CAN DO.

I have not given up, I am still learning to enjoy the ME TIME. The few occasions I have succeeded, I have lost that edge that makes my husband call me the General…(not good).

Learning to accept that my house will never be 100% clean, kids will never put all their junk away and meals can’t be be made from scratch as often as I’d like should help me enjoy life as it is. With dust under the bed, and a couple of dirty pots in the sink and Rubio’s for dinner. It is really an art for me, this enjoyment and acceptance. The peace that comes with it.

Happy resting


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