As soon as the school year ended in May, we went into work mode. We always have visitors from Canada during the summer, and it usually takes a few weeks to recover the house from school time chaos and bring it back into a presentable state for guests. So for the first month of summer break, we worked. Even when we stopped to take a break, we were feeling guilty for not working. That’s an exhausting state of mind. You sit down, you think about what you should be doing. You sleep, (or not), and think about what you should work on the next day. It’s never ending and absolutely draining.
Then the guests arrive. And, even though it’s family, you never feel like you can really relax. You feel the need to entertain, to make the kids behave better than usual and to actually, you know, plan dinners rather than play short-order cook when everyone gets hungry at 6-ish.
But a funny thing happens when the guests are gone. We all stop and breathe for the first time since, oh, last August, and we do absolutely nothing. It takes about a week for us to stop feeling like we need to be up working constantly, so we may accomplish a few things during that time, but the next week all bets are off. We aren’t doing anything.
I realized this today when I was sitting here, staring at my screen, trying to think of something to write. I thought back over the last two weeks, just sure we had done something worth telling you about, and came up with zilch. I started to feel guilty. “Two weeks, totally wasted,” I thought.
But then it hit me. The living room wasn’t spotless, the dishes weren’t done and there were toys strewn all over the back yard. We hadn’t done anything about any of it. But what we did do was play board games together, spend an hour in the pool every evening, make our own snow cones and watch movies on the couch in our pjs while we ate popcorn and ice cream. And we did all of it totally guilt-free. The two weeks we’ve spent doing “nothing” have been the most relaxing, most fulfilling time we’ve spent together as a family all summer.
We are trained from day one that we need to be busy. Constantly on the move, always working, dragging our kids from one activity to another, keeping a spotless house and having perfectly scheduled lives. When you can pull that off and continue to maintain the outward appearance of having it all together, then society deems you successful. But while we’re working toward succeeding at all of that, we are failing, miserably, at just being together and spending quality time with one another.
Most of your to-do list that’s nagging at you right now can wait until later, or tomorrow, or even next week. Take some time to just hang out with your family or your friends. Really stop to breathe, take it all in and actually enjoy doing nothing for a moment. Because when you do that, even “nothing” counts for “something”.