Saturday, January 11, 2020

Out of Context: The Importance of Breaks

Sometimes we can get so entrenched in our life that we lose the proper context or perspective we should be living in.  From a designated quiet time where everyone reads to a romantic getaway for a couple of weeks, we all need to prioritize breaks in our life.  It’s easy to make excuses because, well, life.  There could be several reasons why temporarily changing your normal seems out of reach.  Money, babysitters, work requirements, school requirements, and responsibilities of all kinds absolutely make it challenging, but no matter what the obstacle is, finding a way is worth it.  Teaching our children and future generations the importance of balancing work and rest is worth it.     

Anxiety, depression and suicide seem to be at an all time high.  Kids and teenagers are    mountains of pressure (and not handling it well) despite our culture of convenience.  The internet and social media have created problems we weren’t really ready for.  Well-meaning parents everywhere are looking for an easy solution, but avoiding lifestyle changes like the plague.  Just like the person who complains about weight-gain, but continues a fast food, lethargic way of life, nothing will change for the better unless you insist upon it.  Taking breaks – physical, emotional, and spiritual – gives life to our motivation and purpose.  Stopping the regular flow of life allows us to see it differently, often more clearly.  Distance away from the people in your life, even just 20 feet for an hour’s time can spark joy and clarity.

Kids, like adults, have varying rhythms and paces.  Now that my 3rd baby is almost 3, I can say with conviction that every kid is sooooo different and that includes what kind of distance and downtime they require for optimal mental health.  Knowing them and how they really function best takes time and study, but it’s the only way we can truly give them these tools in the future. 
After a very eventful Winter Break, I learned a few things about breaks.

You don’t know what life would be like with less until you’ve tried it.  Less obligations, less outings, less distractions, less busy.  Until soccer season is over or that side job goes on hiatus, you can’t really understand what’s important to you or how your family might function (better).

The complaints you have about your job/family/house/life are often just the result of crankiness.  When we’re hungry/tired/sick/stressed/overstimulated/neglected everything feels worse.  Taking a time out to remedy one or more of those needs can eliminate the bulk of those complaints very quickly.  Like a child who needs a nap, we have a tendency to overextend and get shocked at our inability to live life calmly.

A break is worth just as much whether it’s on a tropical beach somewhere or on your back porch with the kids banned inside.  Every season of life has its limits and struggles, but breaks are still needed.  If you can afford to take a vacation – DO IT! If you have amazing babysitters – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM!  If you have the chance to not commit to as much – DON’T FEEL GUILTY!  If you are bound up right now in life, then make the porch or the bathroom this amazing space where no one is allowed to interrupt for 15 minutes!
Honor those in your family by teaching them the value of breaks.

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