How I love the energetic pace of the days when the sun stays up late. Particularly as this time of year (from early May until late July) is sprinkled with bank holidays, weekend visits from far away friends and the long anticipated annual leave from our favourite Englishman; allowing us to enjoy plenty of extended family time. However, this flow of social activities brings with it the challenges of keeping the rhythm of everyday life while the pace changes rapidly at times.
We’ve just returned from a blissful break in the Mediterranean Sea, where we revelled in the sunny days with Daddy around: Late breakfasts, mornings in the pool, ice cream everyday, many hours at the beach and some late night dancing under the stars made for a week well lived.
The day after our return, however, instead of sliding straight back into normality, I decided to hit the reset button. I wrote a list of household tasks that resume priority (e.g. washing all sand dusted clothes and towels) and scrapped all other arrangements for the day. We didn’t meet anyone nor rushed to our usual playgroup.
As a mum with the full freedom and responsibility to set the tone for our days, I’ve come to understand that it’s important to acknowledge that a change of rhythm needs space and time to adjust. Wether that is because we’re about to enter into a new season or when holidays, illnesses and celebrations have changed our usual routines and we are about to dive back in.
I used to ignore my need for quieter reset days (like I assume many people do). In the trot of 9-5, holidays or weekends seemed such rare occasions of free time that I wanted to squeeze the most out of every minute. Having a day with no clear plan for fun or chances to tick things off the bucket list felt like a waste of time. Instead I would always take the last plane out, basically returning to work with my luggage still attached to me. Consequently, the first few days after a holiday would always feel slightly off.
It came with caring for and observing the energy swings of a little human being that I recognised the real benefits of allowing myself, and her, time and space to sit with the experiences we’ve had (from days out exploring in the park to real foreign adventures, from a simple coffee date with friends to hosting a family party).
Her energy at times seems bountiful, and with it bubbling over like a boiling pot it’s easy to believe she must be constantly entertained, taken places and given opportunities. Yet, upon closer observation I realised, the real growth happens in those days of quiet attendance to the home. While I sort the laundry and tidy the house, she can be found stacking blocks and talking to her bunny about the things she’s seen or playing in her kitchen reiterating conversations from the past days.
Two years into motherhood, I take rest as serious as I take play and account for it accordingly in our daily routines. Reset days in particular are now a default for uprooting times. They are automatically scheduled into our calendar after bank holidays, trips away and big events. Occasionally I’ve thrown one in following a particularly social weekend or illnesses. They have, in short, become a vital part in the fluency of our rhythms, in recognition of my dire need to gain some control, tend to the tasks that have been left undone and generally spend a day pottering with no serious agenda then putting things back into order physically (like washing all the clothes after time away) or mentally (checking in on project lists, calendar, to dos; drinking a cup of tea while recapping the past days).
Ideally the reset day seamlessly comes after the upheaval of the routine or at least before we dive back into “normal life” sometimes however that is not possible and I try not to worry and instead just run with it while scheduling a day as soon as possible.
These Reset Days are no spaces for pre-set musts and have-to’s, they are sacred days so I GET to do what I feel will help us find our rhythm again. I make to do lists, yes, but I also just let my eyes and mind wander.
It’s a leisurely mix of tending to routine tasks, making small set ups for the week (shopping) and a quick sweep over the remnants of past fun times like cleaning the oven after hosting a roast dinner or recently vacuuming the house after returning with two suitcases seemingly full of sand. There is no obligation to have a sparkling house again at the end of the day, the simple aim is to have the most nagging tasks cared for and a mind that it at rest again with a clear vision for the days or weeks ahead.
Amanda’s blog post on Homesong beautifully describes the power of when we allow ourselves to turn obligations into chances to reset.
Bethany from Cloistered Away shared some great thoughts on the value of not loading up your quiet hours of restoration.