This week I have felt a little as if I’ve been stuck on a treadmill, in perpetual motion and unable to get off. I have started each day feeling calm and positive and have enjoyed a quiet half hour or so before any of the children have surfaced but after this each day seems to have degenerated into utter bedlam. I have been constantly on the go and yet seem to have achieved nothing. I look back on my childhood and can’t remember my parents being this busy or being so stressed but is that just a case of seeing things through rose coloured spectacles? Sometimes I feel like we all need to slow down, take a deep breath and just stop racing around. Sometimes I think I would much rather be a tortoise than a hare.
I tried this the other day. It had been one of those days that started well but then everything seemed to go wrong: the boiler went wrong so there was no hot water, the washing machine malfunctioned on a day when I had six loads of washing to do, the lawnmower developed a fault just at the moment that we were about to bring some order to an unruly garden, and a whole host of other little things occurred which made the day challenging to say the least. By the afternoon I was feeling thoroughly fed up and completely weighed down by an ever increasing to do list. I really needed to plough on and try to sort the mess but instead I decided to take a rest from it all. It was a gloriously sunny day so I went outside with my youngest child and had a bounce on the trampoline. It was wonderful! For the first time that day I felt relaxed and carefree; I forgot all the trials and tribulations of the day and just gave myself up to the sheer joy of being a child again. We went from bouncing to just lying on the trampoline looking up at the clouds and chatting; and then on to the swings and a tour of the garden, joined by two of the other boys. We all had huge grins on our faces and felt on top of the world. Such a simple thing to do and yet so important, taking time out of a difficult day to have fun together. Part of me was worried that my playtime would completely prevent me from getting my jobs done but in fact the opposite was true, the change of pace had re-energised me and I ended the day feeling like I had made real progress.
I know I need more ‘tortoise’ moments like this and so do my children. When the boys were little I played with them a lot; every day before their bath time we would head out into the garden and play together, perhaps football or playing on the swings or hide and seek. If it was bad weather we would play something indoors. It made us all happy before the start of the bath and bed ritual and most of all helped to strengthen our family ties. As children grow older it is so easy to stop playing games together. Life becomes so busy, school takes up more time, children have their own active social lives and gradually everyone seems to lead separate lives only coming together at meal times. That’s fine up to a point but sometimes it can feel very disjointed, almost as if the family is breaking up. A few days of doing things together whether it be a family outing, sorting out the garden shed, cooking together or playing a game together has an almost magical effect and gets everyone really talking to each other and becoming close again. Somehow or other I need to slow down time and take life at a slow and steady pace rather than tearing around trying to do everything at once.
I think I’m going to institute a games night, one night a week when we all get together and play something. Just an hour out of everyone’s schedule so that we all have a rest from the rushing around and can enjoy a moment of being together as a family. All the things that need doing will wait for us. One hour to take stock and to have some fun before we go back to running the race. I’ll let you know how I get on…….