My husband and I recently began taking turns giving one another a break for a day. We both work full time jobs, and between having our son in the evenings, family time or date night, it can be a hassle to get even five minutes to yourself. Sometimes you just need a day where it’s nice not to rush, or having to schedule tasks around nap times. So we created a system where we’d allow each other to have a day to be free. No kids. No work. Just a day to recoup and de-stress. Nice, right? But this mama struggles with doing this sometimes.
For eleven months I have had difficulty with turning that part of my brain off to focus on nothing more but relaxing. My day of relaxation turns into doing everything under the sun, except for using that time off as it was intended to. Learning to utilize my downtime has been a challenge because it comes so sparingly. Instead of using this day to catch my breath, I feel compelled to do the tasks that are usually a juggle any other time.
Do I take this time to do the things I normally wouldn’t have time to do, or do I ignore it so I can focus on me? A part of me actually feels a bit guilty if I’m not doing anything when there’s so much I could get done in this free time.
I knew that I had so many options of what I wanted to do. Maybe go to a movie, or out to eat. I could binge watch some TV shows. I could call a few friends for brunch. I can maybe get that pedicure and massage that I saw on Groupon. But on the other hand, I’m thinking I can finally vacuum. I can clean the refrigerator. I can rearrange the cabinets. I can sort through my mail.
My husband had our son the entire day. It was just me.
I remember waking up that morning and planning to go for a quick run around the neighborhood. I wouldn’t have to worry about pulling out the stroller, sippy cup, and other mommy essentials. As soon as my feet hit the ground, I glanced around our bedroom and saw the dirty pile of laundry just begging me to wash them. So I did. I carried that load of laundry into the washer room and got the clothes washed. Then I noticed the tons of dust on top of the washing machine and dryer. How dare I pretend I didn’t notice this and not clean it up? So I dusted. Now my attention is drawn to the floor. I should probably sweep while I’m at it. When else will I have a day that I can sweep without my son chasing after the broom?
For each chore, I kept telling myself that it won’t take long. I can quickly finish this and then enjoy the rest of my day. But before I knew it, hours have passed by, and the whole day has been spent doing chores. My husband and son would have returned home and the bills are paid, the house is clean, and dinner is cooked. I didn’t do a darn thing that I said I would.
What is my problem? Why can’t I take a day off?
Learning to take a day off feels weird for me when I’ve programmed myself to be on all.the.time. I’m constantly in motion, and when I have a moment to slow it down, I can’t seem to hit the brakes. I never thought that the day would come where I’d be back and forth on what to do with my day off. You would think that it shouldn’t require so much thought to rest up and relax the one moment I actually have it. But it’s harder than I thought.