It’s not very often that I manage to ‘switch off’ completely. As a wife and mum to a large family, running our busy household doesn’t offer many opportunities to take time out. Even though the children are all that little bit older now, and most are grown and have left to begin lives of their own, the need to be there for them is no less than it was when they were small and all living at home. If anything, they actually require more time and attention- as now, instead of just a few words here and there throughout the course of a day, it’s long phone conversations, long messages, or day long visits!
Which, it has to be said (so as not to cause any offence) is NOT a problem!! 😉
When I then also added running a small business into the mix thirteen years ago, I thought it was just a case of sitting and doing a bit of sewing a couple of times a week, and an hour every so often updating my website… How wrong was I on that one?! 😮
Although in the beginning that was the case, the demands of running a business successfully mean that now every moment of every day not already taken up in brain work of some sort, is now taken up with thoughts related to my little shop- what do I need to update this week on the website… what posts should I put on social media today… what subject should I write about for my next blog post… I must remember to order more fabric for that new idea, and order more for that item which is nearly out of stock… I need to spend some time interacting with my social media to get noticed properly on there… I need to get that UKCA paperwork up to date…
The list is endless, and I only have a very small set up!!
I do try to plan ahead- when I get the time to. Thinking ahead to events coming up, to those numerous ‘National day of the…’ days, or just looking at what I have that’s new that week and making a kind of plan does help a bit. But, like I said that takes time, and in the shorter term it takes longer than taking each day one at a time- so is it actually any easier in the long run? Depending on what else is happening in our lives at the time sometimes having a plan written out ahead is a big help, but sometimes it isn’t- especially when life likes to change whatever it is that you’d had planned ahead!
Unusually for me, by the end of March this year I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by it all. Keeping the household going while being there in whatever capacity for whoever needed it at the time… the endless pile of washing… the endless list of messages and phone calls to keep up with… the emotional roller coaster of being a mum to young adults in so many different stages of their young independent lives… all while attempting to keep my little business going at a time when, thanks to the ever rising costs of living, the entire world seemed to have suddenly stopped spending money on anything that wasn’t an absolute necessity…
It had been a very long winter and I was tired and drained.
So when the inevitable question arose of when and how long we were going to go to the caravan for over the Easter holidays, I was so tired I said that I couldn’t actually be bothered to go! My thoughts just went immediately to the washing, the shopping, the packing and the ‘what if an order comes in the day before we go’… I actually thought it would be easier to sit at home and carry on as normal- despite the fact that we bought the caravan for the very purpose of taking a break from ‘normal’ sometimes!
Fortunately, (as it turned out!) no one else agreed with me on this, and thanks to a combination of Mike’s working, Games Boy’s deciding on when he was going to be staying with us, and Little Blondie’s GCSE exam revision we worked out a schedule of the first Wednesday of the school holidays to Easter Day which fell in the middle, with the next weekend thrown in as extra 🙂
Taking an extra day out for the washing and packing felt very wrong, but necessary if we were going to leave early on the Wednesday- to make the most of the day and give ourselves a whole extra day down there. Wrong, that was, until I woke up on the Tuesday and felt like a load had already been taken off my shoulders.
Usually, even when we’re away at the caravan I still keep up with my Social Media accounts- posting most days and keeping my notifications cleared. But this time for once- as I’ve seen many others doing recently, I popped a post not only onto my website, but onto Instagram and Facebook too to say I was taking a little break (without actually saying we were going away!), which freed me up to ignore them both, or pop a post on only if I felt I really wanted to. With no expectation from anybody to keep my little business in the limelight for a few days, and with the explanation given to all my fellow little business buddies as to why I wasn’t responding to any tags and shares they may include me in, I was able to shed that side of things from my brain for a while.
I have no idea how I actually even managed to do it- I must have been desperate! I’ve tried before… said I’m going to ignore things for a while… I even tried writing and scheduling my posts ahead for while we were away last summer… but I’ve never actually truly switched off and ignored it all.
Curly had commented only the day before- in response to me saying how much I really needed the break, and how much I was looking forward to just doing nothing for a few days- that I must be really stressed out and tired if I could actually acknowledge my need to take time out! 😮
By the time we were midway through the Tuesday, with me able to just concentrate on my family, the washing, the ironing and the packing, I was beginning to agree with her that maybe I was. There were still a million and one things going through my mind that I should, or could be doing as well- but even just popping the holiday mode onto everything ‘business’ had already taken a lot of it away.
Packing for a UK holiday in mid-April is never easy, however long or short a time you’re away for, so with my brain basically in sleep mode, I ended up packing way too much- to cover all eventualities in the weather… just as well we only travel an hour away from home, and in our own car so things can just be stuffed in wherever they fit!! Most other packing is relatively straight forward and consists of gathering up the same bits every time we go- it’s just as well I could pack in my sleep these days, as I think on that day I almost was!
I even packed three extra books along with the one I was halfway through reading, simply because I was too tired to think about which one I wanted to read next! 😀
The next morning dawned fairly bright and sunny, though I was still feeling way too stressed out and tired to really appreciate the change in the weather! Everything went to plan and with everyone up, breakfasted and finished packing their last essential bits we loaded up the car and set off. Mike being the driver in our family, I put the music CD on and sat back as usual to let the pop songs drift past me, whilst half listening to the banter going on between Games Boy and his two sisters in the back.
And then something unusual happened. Driving between fields of sheep on the moorland roads, I felt like something physically lifted from me. Suddenly I felt calmer; more relaxed, and definitely less stressed out than I had been for many months- years even! My stomach unknotted… my brain started to notice anew and really appreciate the early spring beauty, visible in all the trees and hedgerows… I felt free, and I felt ‘well’… ❤
Of course there were still things to check up on during our few days away- a quick message to both the older girls when we arrived at the caravan, to let them know we were safely there. Keeping an eye on messages just to make sure there was nothing actually important from either them, or anyone else, but without dwelling on any others that appeared on the screen of my phone. Checking my emails at the beginning and end of the day just in case of anything important cropping up, or potential customer queries that could turn into sales if replied to in brief, but which would be lost forever if left…
But as our break continued, and the sea views and salty air worked their magic, I found that it actually became easier to ignore everything else, which completely surprised me as I’d expected the opposite to be the case! I didn’t even end up going onto Instagram or Facebook simply to browse as I’d intended to- I just didn’t feel the need, which was a very refreshing feeling! Nor did I spend time on my tablet games- my crochet, on the other hand grew by several rows… and my puzzle book pages were filled…
And which book did I choose to read next? It turns out the real question should have been about which order to read them in- as I was on the last one by the time we came back home!! 😮
I have never, and maybe never will again, experienced such a refreshing break. I’ve always loved being down at the caravan, just yards away from a beautiful beach and being able to get away from ‘normal’ for a little while- and it usually does a perfectly adequate job of recharging our batteries, and dosing us up with enough vitamin Sea to keep us going until our next break. But this time was completely different. Perhaps being the first proper, restrictions-free break since the pandemic helped… or maybe I really was just so run down that I needed the time away more than even I realised.
Whatever the reason, two things are sure. Firstly, that this year’s Easter holiday will always have a special place in my heart, and that I’ll always be thankful for, and remember the complete time off that it gave me… And secondly that, although it doesn’t need to happen often- I will most definitely be taking more proper breaks away from everything again ❤