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Rest

That has got to be one of my favourite four-letter words.

To me rest looks like this:

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This the lounge of the holiday house we occasionally stay in (it belongs to old friends of D’s family).  The house is in a quiet beachside settlement where I have no cellphone coverage.  The house is a WWII prefab, cobbled together over the intervening years with quirk, charm and a little bootpolish.  In this bookcase there are treasures to behold.  I never fail to find something great to read – anything from Buchan to Guareschi.  On this particular weekend I had nothing on my agenda other than to rest, so I read a doorstop-of-a-book, interrupted only by walks along the beach.  I got lost for hours in a complex detective story with a clever and satisfying conclusion.  Bliss.

Rest also looks like this:

beach.JPG

and this:

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The weather was perfect.  Warm, with a gentle breeze, hardly a cloud in the sky.  I scrambled up and down sand dunes, strolled through forest, and watched the waves lazily lapping on the shore.

As I mentioned last week, I have suffered from rather severe burnout in the past, and after a stressful couple of weeks wrangling two sick toddlers some burn-out symptoms were rearing their ugly heads.  Burnout is a b*tch like that.  One of the first things to go for me is sleep.  My body overreacts to stress and I end up unable to fall asleep for hours as my mind races from one thought to the next.  I could tolerate this (albeit barely) when I was single and childfree, but now I have children who wake me up at 6:30am I cannot survive on 3-4 hours sleep.

I slept badly on my retreat, but I was at least able to sleep in, so I returned home with my batteries showing signs of life.

While there I noticed that my primary emotion was…sadness.

I missed my family.  I knew I would enjoy myself more if they were with me, and yet I desperately needed some respite from my demanding toddlers so I could get on an even keel again.

On the first day I had fun, and it felt like my single days when I could do whatever I wanted.  I stopped at a small town along the way and looked in every single op-shop.  I bought what I wanted for dinner (steak and salad, followed by Greek yoghurt and fresh blackberries, yum!).  I watched two movies that I wanted to watch (‘Inside Out’ and ‘Pitch Perfect 2’).

But the next day, the gloss had worn off.  Because I am not the same person that I was when I was single and childfree.  I have three ginormous (and exceptionally cute) blessings in the forms of D, Chip and Sausage, and life really is more fun when they are with me.  It’s certainly louder, gigglier and messier.  I sat with Sadness and Guilt (very ‘Inside Out’ of me), knowing that even though I loved and missed my family I was doing the very best thing for them and for me.  Taking a break.

My little sojourn has hopefully shored me up for the next wee while (please tell me no one gets sick over summer okay?  Lying is fine.).  Bring on Christmas!

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Dollar Diet: Week 49, free fun and slowing down

The second week of the school holidays has whizzed by.  My tots and I have enjoyed several playdates with friends, and have either mooched about at home, visited playgrounds and headed for the beach.  I’ve managed to get through this week without spending a cent on kid-related activity (other than a bit of petrol).

Ah, home sweet home

Ah, home sweet home

The glorious weather (seriously, I’ve been swanning around in a t-shirt in October) has made it easier for us to stay at home, because our backyard is so wonderful.  At the moment Chip is greatly entertained by the garden hose, eating grapefruit that’s fallen from the tree, playing in a dirt pile left by D when he put the gate in, and trying to put everything he can in his mouth.  Sausage loves to help me put out the washing, which is quite a fun, educational experience for her.  I ask her for certain numbers of pegs – which she methodically counts out for me – or I ask her for pegs of a particular colour, or to give me a certain item of clothing.  She has even created her own washing line by clipping pegs to a nearby flax bush.

I have certainly been more productive this week.  My house is a bit cleaner, the laundry under control, and our mornings less frantic as we don’t have to rush out the door to our various play groups.  It has got me wondering if I need to scale back our play group involvement, at least until next winter.  It’s actually a tricky decision for me because I have good friends at each group, and as an extrovert I need quite a bit of face-time with people who don’t pepper me with a zillion questions before my brain has had a chance to wake up in the morning, or smear the remnants of morning tea into my cardi.  On the other hand, one of the things I adore about being a stay-at-home parent is that I can say ‘by heck it’s a sunny day…BEACH!’ and just go. [Edit: of course, when I say ‘just go’ this means conduct military-like operation to pack a bag with snacks, hats, sunscreen, towels and the kitchen sink, wrestle children into the car, and THEN go.]

It’s amazing how much my tots have made me slow down.  I used to live life at a break-neck pace until I burnt-out badly.  Even after I recovered, I was still fairly busy going out to events and seeing my friends.  Now if I have more than one event on during a weekend, that feels a bit much for me!  But when you have kids who see magic and wonder in light fittings and dirt, you realise it doesn’t take much to make them happy.  Play groups are wonderful, but so is being at home or getting out into nature.

Here’s to summer!