This is heaven. It’s, what, 8.22am and I’m delightedly wrapped up in my fluffy Marks & Spencer dressing gown, coffee steaming besides me, with a whole enticing blank page ahead.
Alex-picture of health- is stabbing wildly at his keyboard next door, emitting booms and explosion sounds from his new game. Soph is curled up in our bed. She claims to be feeling peaky so I’ve indulged with warm honey and lemony water, Tylenol and the Apple TV remote. I say ‘claim’ because she’s often just a little bit sick with intangible symptoms. I think I’ve made sick days far too attractive. As a mother I coo and plump cushions and dispense numerous kisses. I fetch warm drinks, smooth hair and sympathize. My own mother was far brisker. Even when I as a child was vomiting profusely, she’d insist a good walk in the fresh air was the only tonic. (Know it all:-)
Yes, its the first glorious morning of Spring Break! Nine gorgeous days off all the cares and clutters of daily life. No militant mornings packing the kids off to school. No scouting for missing ballet shoes under beds, nor 6am alarms and 9pm bedtimes and squeezing time to its maximum.
In America, time off is a bit more of a luxury than it was when we lived in the UK or Germany. Our lifestyle here in Florida is fantastic; the sun radiates into blue skies most days, seemingly affecting the locals who are usually full of sunshine themselves, shining smiles and ‘How are yous?’ wherever we venture. There is an abundance of things to do, sensational shopping, utopian beaches….lets just say I can see why it’s the number one holiday destination in the world.
Yet the average Floridian- or American perhaps- has very little time- off to enjoy life. Leisure time is a most precious commodity and holidays in their rarity are simply delicious.
Take my husband; he received zilch paid Leave for his first year in his company, five days last year and- yayzers- a whole ten days this year and from now on. In Britain, we get five weeks.
My husband flops out of bed at a 5am alarm and sometimes works nights, on top of his days. Yet still he comes home and insists on mulching flower beds in our front yard and fixing stuffy Hoovers and reading bedtime stories. He’s got his American-work-hard-hat on since we moved here. It’s a far cry from the military’s thirty days off a year and our monthly four day weekends in Germany to visit Schloss’s and city breaks, care of good old Ryanair.
Last night, in celebration of the start of Spring Break, I made the first fruit-stuffed Pimms of the year. Eric was reluctant to chop a half hour off his yard work time to come and share his day with me over a slow-down drink. But I insisted, and he and his swollen gardeners fingers actually sat down. Eric-stimulated by my apparent riveting conversation- nigh fell asleep, poor Love. “Got to keep going,” he tells me.
I say no! I say revel in the sedentary opportunities, mooch in PJ’s and delivered food days, schedule slovenly time because, by goodness, very few of us get handed it on a silver platter.
Family time, I’ve established, has to be fiercely guarded.
In my own world, I’m learning the empowering benefits of just saying ‘No.’ You know how much refueling time you need to serve best, not the next person. I’m done with looking around at miracle mum’s who have five kids tearing at their hair, a frantic full time job and volunteer and pitching my self worth against theirs. I marvel and bow to their energy. But I can’t serve that way. Can you?
How do you best unplug?
YES to the weekend! And Namaste to you, sweet friend. I hope you give yourself permission to do what fills you up most.