Sunday, 8 July 2018

Busy doing nothing

As much as I love to travel, explore and go on adventures, I'm starting to feel over-scheduled  and in need of a break. What with Easter holidays, Brownie camps, Beaver sleep overs, a nearly full time job and various swimming lessons and extra-curricular activities, I'm realising we have too little time for just 'mucking about'. In fact, I'll edit that last sentence without the 'just'...... 'Just mucking about' makes it sound like it's not important, a low priority, a negotiable use of time. In fact, I feel quite the opposite about mucking about time- It's essential to our well-being, our creativity and our patience levels. We live in a society which is so used to instant gratification, we have no strategies to curb our boredom. We're unable to even wait in line or for our doctor appointment without fishing out our mobile phones from our pockets.  I remember as a middle schooler (yes I grew up in the Primary, Middle, High school model and no I'm not American!) having to wait for my parents to collect me from various activities and I would make up games to while away the time, guessing and counting how many cars would pass before my mum's milkfloat car (anyone remember the Daihatsu Move?) would appear round the corner. I also used to make up a lot of stories in my head, that I planned to one day write down, but never did. I lived in a total fantasy world for my whole childhood, I probably still do a fair amount to be honest.
 I believe that adults and children still need this unscheduled down time, not to zone out in front of TV or Ipads, not to spend the whole weekend slobbed out doing nothing at all, but to just see what happens..... go with the flow, watch this space, enjoy the home that we've carefully planned and decorated, get to know each other, let the adventures come naturally or not, whatever!
So, on Friday at work, when the usual 'What ya got planned for the weekend?' chat came around, I replied 'Nothing, absolutely nothing'. And the response of my colleagues was 'ooh lush'. In fact, anytime I talk about trying to be less scheduled, more 'unbusy',  I get a similar response. It's what we all seem to want, less hurry, less stress, more freedom. This weekend, it worked and we ended up chatting in the local pub for an hour Friday evening whilst the children drew pictures and sipped lemonade. Saturday, we painted rocks with mandalas and vegetable on for the garden (we came up with the idea and collected the rocks months ago!), played a few games of chess (I was beaten by 'mini-him' as usual) and baked some chcocolate muffins. On Sunday, the children went off to wash the campervan with 'him', whilst I finally got round to starting the blog 'proper'. This weekend I've also managed to read a whole book (short, but sweet) and squeeze in a bike ride and trip to the gym.  I should also mention, the kids have managed two whole films and several hours of their new favourite game 'Roblox'.  Now I'm feeling good, rested, recuperated, re-charged and ready to start another busy but fulfilling week and I'm promising myself I won't leave it this long again until the next weekend of 'nothing planned'.
So how do we ensure we leave time for being free and unbusy in our scheduled, modern lives?
1. Decide your priorities and choose your compromises- Chances are, if you have primary aged children, they're not going to take it well if you decline their classmates birthday party in favour of doing nothing. However, do they really really have to play football/go swimming/(insert whatever weekly activity you like here) every single Saturday?  Only you will know what your family's priorities are and even then, they'll probably change throughout the year/week/hour. You just need to reflect regularly and make sure you're only doing things that are important to you

2. Learn to say no kindly- There's been multiple weekends when we've been invited for dinner at a family members, asked to babysit, texted about impromptu nights out and I've thought 'well I/we could, but.... do I really want to? What am I giving up if we go?' It feels kind of harsh to say no at the time, but once I've got my mind set on a 'nothing planned' period, it becomes my priority. It's up to you what commitments you decide to say no to and nobody else can make the decision for you. However, when you say no, there's no need to be unkind about it and no need to lie. Just a simple 'Sorry I can't do that today' will suffice. If they really push for a reason, just say you need a break.

3. Prepare for the pain of boredom.- This generation is not used to being bored and it's quite a skill to learn to entertain yourself when you're used to picking up a device. Maybe it'll be the adults who find it hardest or maybe the children will be demanding of your attention. I recently taught 'mini-him' to tell me 'with his words' when he needs my attention, rather than rolling around on the floor/winding up his sister/descending into tantrum mode. This has been both a blessing and a curse, as I now have to act when he asks, rather than putting him off with 'in a minutes', but on the whole the improved communication has worked really well and the lack of tantrums is magical! If you prepare mentally and practically with a few different ideas or the resources you need for things on the 'to do list', it'll give you an easier transition. However, saying that....

4. Don't make any plans, just let it happen naturally- Sometimes a weekend of 'nothing planned' can end up being super busy or productive, sometimes it'll end up exciting and adventurous and sometimes it could end up totally lazy and restful. Just let it happen.

5. Make yourself available and present to your family- As much as it was lovely to sit back, relax and read my book this weekend, I needed to be prepared to be disturbed and not get frustrated when asked to stop and get the baking equipment out. I do admit that I find this much more easy to do when I don't have a schedule or plan, because actually it doesn't matter whether  I  read this now or later, they'll still be time. I've also been trying to seriously cut down my own screen (read facebook/pinterest scrolling) time, which also helps me to feel less frustrated with interruptions.

6. And finally commit to it now. Schedule in your 'no schedule' time. Plan your weekend of 'nothing planned'. Enjoy!

Perhaps you could start with No Screen Week starting tomorrow.....
We'll be joining in too, let us know how you get on......

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