This is a topic I’ve written on before, but it bears repeating — there seems to be two different kinds of people in this world — those for whom ‘fun’ is the primary preoccupation, and those for whom work always comes before play.
I was raised in the latter group. And later in life, when I became a single mom, the list of things that counted as being on the ‘work’ list was never-ending. In fact, work always came before play.
So that’s how I raised my girls — unfortunate that they were girls, because — as women — we tend to be that way, anyway. Always thinking about what needs to be done for the kids, the boss, the husband, the house, church responsibilities, etc. So, once again, the list of things on the ‘work’ list is never ending.
And therefore, the time for fun keeps getting postponed. Unless there is someone else who could sometimes take the reins, take over the ‘responsibilities’ and let me go and have some fun.
Well, guess how often that happens … — duh!
The only reprieve I got in those days was in the garden. I could go into the garden at the end of a long, stressful day, with a headache the size of tomorrow, and emerge, a couple of hours, later a new person. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that — for me — was how I experienced ‘fun’.
In my work now with burned out clients and care-givers, I define fun as ‘any activity that so occupies your attention you lose complete track of time’. That’s a fairly broad definition. But we women have different needs when it comes to letting loose.
Some of us just need to go out with the girls and enjoy a ‘hoe-down’. Others are rejuvenated after an afternoon of meditation. Still others need time alone, in the garden, at the library, or just going for a long hot bubble bath.
Whatever it is that rekindles the juice in you, it is imperative that you indulge yourself on a regular basis. I tell my clients that they need to do so at least weekly (daily is better). Doing so makes you more able to give, more fun to be around, and gives you a reason to get up every day. My clients regularly tell me that they not only sleep better, feel more invigorated, enjoy sex more, but often find themselves earning more money — how great is that?!?!!
So here are some ideas to help you bring that balance between fun and responsibility to a realization in your own life:
First, realize that fun takes many different forms for us — if ‘fun’ for you is time alone, time at the library, getting a massage, going for a swim or a walk all by yourself, then be OK with that. You don’t have to go out and act like a wild woman, dancing on tables in bars, or partying up with your friends. Do what ‘feels good’ to you — and savour every moment of it.
Second, don’t allow anyone (and that includes your inner critic) to make you feel guilty for needing this. Do you think for a minute that your husband feels guilty for taking a Saturday morning to go golfing with his friends? Nuh -uh!
Third, start making time in your calendar to do this — make an appointment (you don’t have to tell everyone what it is. I had a friend who after she’d had her fourth child, told her mother-in-law that she had a therapy appointment, so that the m-i-l would babysit. What she didn’t tell her m-i-l was that her therapy was RETAIL THERAPY — she went shopping!!!!) You can be creative about this — join a tai-chi group, a quilting or scrap-booking group, meditate, do yoga, go see a movie — whatever get’s your groove back.
Finally, once you start to see how much better you feel, don’t blow it by being generous with your time and taking on more ‘responsibilities’ or ‘obligations’. Get comfortable slowing down, having ‘me-time’ and feeling relaxed. Your family will appreciate it more than you can imagine. And they won’t even know … which makes it all that much better.
So take the time you need to experience fun, or joy, or bliss — whatever you call it. You’re worth it. You deserve it. And you’ll be a better person for it.
Til next time, Linda
Linda has been coaching and counselling women and care-givers for over 5 years. Her clients are feeling burned out and unwilling or unable to feel joy. After working with Linda, they report that they sleep better, feel more energized, and enjoy life more.
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