Hi there, and happy Monday! I hope you had a rejuvenating weekend and are ready to tackle the week! Or maybe your weekend was crazy busy and you’re ready to return to the normalcy and routine of the week ahead. Or maybe, like me, all your days are blending together and you had no idea that this week is JULY. What?! When? How?! I can hardly believe it myself, I feel like June really just flew by and I’m not capitalizing on everything these summer days have to offer.
Why is that a thing? Like, why do I feel bad for not being seemingly more productive? At what point are we told that doing recreational things should take a back seat to “productivity” (whatever the hell that means). Why should I feel bad for taking a long walk and then reading in the sunshine for a while? What should I be doing instead? It’s so interesting to me that I feel like I should be doing something, and even when I am, it just doesn’t seem important enough. When I was growing up and my family still ate dinner at the table my dad would always ask me, most nights, in a very interrogative way, “What did you do to help your mother today?!” On the one hand, I think it’s important for everyone in a household to help out in whatever way they can. My daughter has chores, my son cleans up to the best of his ability, we all do our fair share. On the other hand, I was in school all day, had sports after school, I usually picked my brother up from the babysitter, then I had homework. Oh and in addition to sports I was in most of the extracurriculars. When was I supposed to do anything other than those things? Since I was learning and playing field hockey all day I didn’t have time to [insert household chore here] so therefore I wasn’t productive enough. These skewed perceptions start very early, my friends. So dang early.
QUAR has really forced a lot of us to slam on the breaks and slow down, and as I detailed in my last post, my life was crazy busy hectic. Now that I’ve slowed down, I kind of don’t know what to do with myself. I know, I sound like such a whiny snob, “Oh poor MEEEEEEE I’m so BOOOOOORED!” That’s not it at all. What I’m trying to say is that our society has normalized this “rat-race” culture and lifestyle where we just GO GO GO until we’re dead, and it’s so ingrained in us that a lot of people, myself included, really struggle with what happens when we suddenly can’t GO GO GO anymore. Even when life was “normal” Dan and I were still always busy doing something on the weekends: taking the kids to the library to play and read, meeting up with friends, around recital time Lily would have back-to-back ballet stuff, Dan would try to get some solid time in at the gym, swimming lessons, errands to run, meals to prep, you get the idea. Now it’s not that I don’t want to take my kids to the library, I just can’t. That’s not an option. So what do we do?
I said above that this GO GO GO mentality starts early. When QUAR first started my son was not quite 2, and every day for the first few weeks he would go to the door and whine and pout and holler, “GOOOOOOOO” while clinging to the doorknob. He was not even 2 and struggled with the concept of slowing down and being at home. Granted, he wanted to go to daycare because his friends are all there and we were not the most fun people to be around in the early days of QUAR, but still, he just wanted to GO. He’s a busy dude and thrives on activity, but it’s very interesting to me that he struggled so much with that.
My daughter, Lily, is also a victim to this lifestyle, but her summer will look very different from previous ones. In the past we’ve signed her up for two weeks of ballet camp, stuff through our Y, etc. She was out of the house and doing something most days. I think it was good for her to keep her moving and socializing, but there are some benefits to staying away from those things this summer. Of course there’s no ballet camp at all this year, and the spots in the YMCA camps were limited (and pricey), but QUAR aside, there are benefits to just being bored.
There are tons of articles out there about the benefits of being bored, for both children and adults. I specifically read an article from Psychology Today that highlights 5 of the biggest benefits of being bored, including increased creativity and developing self-control skills. As I was reading the article a lot of it seemed like common sense (well DUH it fosters dissatisfaction with the status quo and forces you to make new goals) but that all ties in with what I’ve been talking about for this whole post: we get so wrapped up with just surviving our crazy busy lives, we often don’t have time to realize how unhappy it’s making us. Being bored, having this time, can really show us what we want from life and we can start to strategize how to make those things become a reality. So while I loved my “old” life and how trapped in the “now” I was, I feel equally grateful for this “slower” life where I have the opportunity to read, or vacuum, or meal prep, or hang laundry on the line, or play Animal Crossing, all on my own terms and with impunity.
So here’s my challenge for you, dear reader. I want you to slow down. Right now. Take a deep breath in. Relax your shoulders from your ears (I know you’re like me and keep yourself tensed up all the time). Let your jaw slacken, and even open your mouth just the tiniest bit to really feel relaxed. Take a long breath in through your nose, counting to five, then let it out slowly through your mouth and counting to eight. Do that three times. In two three four five, out two three four five six seven eight. Envision what you would do if you didn’t have to do anything. And then make time for that. Do it.
I love making lists, and most summers I’ll make a hefty list of projects I want to get accomplished. Most of the time the list includes tasks like “sort through clothes” and “get crap ready for yard sale” but this summer, I want to put fun things on there. It will be more like a summer bucket list. Just going a quick Google search of “summer bucket list” yielded hundreds of results for this. Obviously make it your own and make it appropriate for this summer (as much as I love them we will not be going to an amusement park this summer…). I want to do some kind of reading challenge with mine. My library is amazing and does a summer reading BINGO card for adults and you can win prizes for completing it. Last year I did it and got a shirt and a free book! The best part is that it encouraged me to read a lot of books that I normally wouldn’t have considered, so I’m glad for that. Right now I’m reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi.
So, what are you going to do that might not be the definition of “productive”? If you could put any one thing on your Summer Bucket List, what would it be? OR how do you combat those feelings of I should be doing ________ when you really just want to veg out for a while?! Hit me up by leaving a comment below, or tweet a response to either @TopTierCasual or @MrsDscole.
Thanks so much for reading, I’ll talk to you soon! 🙂