Updated: Apr 28
The singing group Chicago had a song that starts with the following lyrics:
“… Everybody needs a little time away I've heard her say, from each other…”
As I get older, wiser, and turn more attention to my own health and wellness, (as you can tell by the band I chose), these words ring truer than ever. We are busy. Too busy. And what are we busy doing? Running here and there, checking off lists, staring at our phones looking at the fabulous lives of others. We fill our time and then we feel depleted. Later on, when our family, partners and others, who should actually get the very best of our time need it, we have nothing left to give. Sometimes we’re irritated that someone has actually asked for more of our time! That’s when we need to take a step back and evaluate what the balance in our lives looks like. By that time, we are way off track.
There’s no shame in scaling back. Taking a little time for yourself to recharge so that you can be the best for the people that actually deserve it is extremely important for you and them.
We hear it every day, “make time for selfcare.” I was THE worst at practicing selfcare. I still struggle with it. We feel we should be “on” all the time. Especially parents and caregivers. There’s family, work, sports, home maintenance, hobbies, bills; the list of things that come before just sitting down are endless. I was in that loop for many years and it wreaked havoc on my physical, emotional and mental health. At one point, I was so overwhelmed, I booked a hotel room over a three-day weekend just for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and child, but I no longer wanted to run from “pillar to post” as my grandmother used to say.
It was the middle of February and the day I was going to leave, it snowed. School let out early and I just kind of lost it. No way was this snow was going to get in the way of the personal “me” time that I so desperately deserved. I had reached the end of my rope! I asked a friend if she could watch my son until my husband got home. She said yes, I dropped him off and drove two and a half hours in a snowstorm to a hotel, checked myself in and slept for about eight hours. That in itself was a clear sign of desperation. The next three days were spent, sleeping, eating when I wanted, and watching marathons of cringeworthy shows like TLC’s Dr. Pimple Popper. It was glorious.
What I learned while I hung out in my escape room for three days was that it should never have gotten that bad. For me or anyone else. When my husband said, “I’ll do it,” or “take a nap,” or “don’t worry about it,” I really should have listened to him. I really should have leaned on him and cut myself some slack. Planned more "personal" days or just more "do nothing days." That would have been smarter, healthier (and cheaper).
That is around the time I got serious about my commitment to get healthy, de-stress and rebalance my life. I was lucky to have the luxury of a understanding spouse to support me in running away for a few days and that the resources where there for me to do it. That blessing is not lost on me. As the child of a single parent, I know there are many others, women and men, who are on their own and that kind of “break” is not an option for them. Remember to offer these folks an opportunity to escape as well.
When I made the commitment to change my life, did things change overnight? No. It took time to feel comfortable enough to not clean up a mess immediately when I saw it but instead, sit down and read the book I was trying to enjoy. It took time to sleep in when I knew there was a day of events, shopping, and other items on the “to do” list. It took time to not feel obligated to keep my child entertained every non-school and non-sleeping minute of his life. But finally, I decided it was okay to let a few things go. Was there guilt? Massive amounts of it and I still wrestle with it, but I win that battle more often than not now.
An escape room, whether it is a physical location or just mental space to think about things and breathe, is very important. Find little ways to crowd in the time you need to disconnect and recharge. Leave the dishes in the sink until the morning. Take a walk after dinner. Hang out at the library. Or sit on a bench in a park and watch the world go by for once instead of running to keep up with it while humming the song “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” by Rupert Holmes. It’s in your head now, isn’t it?
“If you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain…”
Once again, I’m showing my age, but I think he was on to something there.
If you need help planning your escape to take back your personal time and improve your overall wellbeing, let’s talk about it.
Until then, close the door and unplug for a while.
Take care and be well!