We are fortunate enough to have a particular family spot in Taupo where we have enjoyed the vast majority of our holidays. Whenever we arrive now for a holiday, it’s as if our minds have been programmed to immediately switch onto ‘relax’ mode. We have many wonderful memories; of lazy days in the summer enjoying the lake, doing bombs off the jetty, digging large holes in the coarse sand, jumping off upturned kayaks and carving holes in pumice.
Over this last holiday, there was a lot of sitting around on the deck in the sunshine, eating and drinking and talking (usually with some great music on in the background). Our kids are now 21, 19 and 16 and one of the conversations which I have recently been reflecting on was between my husband and I, and our kids; the two parties having seen a very different side of the same fence.
When they were much younger, it was our custom on holiday for everyone to have a rest straight after lunch. Our recall of this habit was “Do you remember how you guys always had a quiet time to rest when you were kids? That was so great!” Their recall of it was “Oh, yeah - it seemed like an eternity until we were allowed to come out of our rooms! We had to be quiet!” There was a lot of humour in their needling, but I have to admit that whilst it was heaven for us, it was a little challenging at times for our children. Especially the more social of them who wanted to play with someone, or at least annoy a sibling or two! Sometimes they were happy to adhere, especially after a long morning being active in the sun and water. They might lay on their bed to look at a book, or play quietly . . . and then sometimes, well . . . let’s just say that it was a great relief to everyone when they could go outside to burn off some more steam! However, even though a rest or quiet time presented challenges, it was always worthwhile. Scratchy kids learnt to take five and slow down, and hassled parents regained their sanity, taking advantage of regrouping and getting their scrambled thoughts together.
Herein lies the curse of life: when we were young, we had regular, long naps and still got to bed at a sensible time; as adults we don’t get much opportunity to nap at all, whilst we go to bed much later . . . someone has a cruel sense of humour! My husband and I have often said to each other that if at 1:30 in the afternoon, someone came along and said “Right, . . . time to read a couple of stories, have a cuddle, and then you can have a sleep”, we would have sprinted towards the nearest couch, bed or hammock and played dead!
The art of rest involves a deliberate, intentional decision on our part to slow down; to pick up a book, to lie down on a couch and close our eyes for even five minutes, and not feel guilty or leap up every time someone walks through the room, needing to justify why we might actually be completely slammed. Like anything that is important to us in life, we create a habit, this particular one being listening to our body and giving it what it needs. Diet and exercise are similar habitual practices which we tend to be a lot more comfortable with announcing to the world. You don’t often see someone admit publicly “Wow, I feel amazing! It must be that nap I had at lunchtime!” We tend to prefer to moan about all the work we have to do, forgetting that if we achieve getting into bed at a decent time, or stop for a short break, we are bound to be way more productive in the long run. It seems that we all suffer from tiredness on a reasonably regular basis. It’s socially acceptable to admit to tiredness, just not that you might actually need to be sensible and do something about it!
There is an article floating about on Facebook at the moment, promising the reader a technique on ‘how to train your brain to fall asleep in 60 seconds’. I think I’ve got that nailed. I stand still long enough and my eyelids become heavy, my body begins to lean like the tower of Pisa, and eventually surrenders to the horizontal position which my mind has been telling me not to give in to all day! I can blame it on the heat, the adjustment of getting back into routines after holidays, the list goes on . . . but I don’t really need feeble excuses. I am quite comfortable announcing that I am going for a ‘nana nap’. I don’t need to follow this statement with "because I have had such a productive day, or . . . because that 10 km run in the beating hot sun just did me in!” Think what you will. My face is crying out for some pillow marks on it, maybe even a salivary dribble - I don’t care. I am finally liberated!