- My sister recently got a puppy. Not, perhaps, the most momentous event in history. But significant to her, in many ways. Talking to her this week, I was really interested to hear that one of the things she was most enjoying was allowing herself time in just to sit quietly with the dog, and a cup of tea.
- This spot of me-time was not something she had ever really allowed herself before. She is one of the busiest people I know. She has three young sons, a busy career, other pets to look after, and a calendar full of commitments. Sitting down for ten minutes with a cup of tea always left her feeling guilty – it was decadent, hedonistic, even, when there were so many other things she ought to be doing.
- So why would I want to write about sitting doing nothing? Surely it’s not very productive? Well, because there is great value in taking a quiet moment to ourselves. And many of us, just like my sister, don’t take that time. I suspect that mothers (as a group) are the worst offenders here… We regard a peaceful ten minute sit down as a luxury rather than a necessity.
- Peaceful time (with or without caffeine-based beverages – I prefer mine with) is re-energising. It allows us to gather our thoughts. To breathe. To reflect. To visualise great things. Or simply enjoy listening to the birds singing or the wind in the trees. Or cuddle the dog. It doesn’t really matter what we do during this time, as long as it is “me-time”.Taking time to sit actually can make us more productive. If you can take time to gather your thoughts before you make your attack on the day, you’re more likely to be efficient, and feel less fatigued.
It is paradoxical, perhaps, that getting a dog (which you would think would bring her lots more work) has actually allowed my sister time to sit. Time to reflect, and relax. Because she is giving the puppy attention during that time, she allows herself not to feel guilty about it. But we don’t all have to rush out and get a dog to allow ourselves to do this. We just need to re-programme ourselves to think about it a bit differently:
- Time to yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. Give it the priority it deserves. It can be a sanity-saver.
- Sitting “doing nothing” is not actually doing nothing. Your brain will be very active. Whether it is active listening to the sounds of nature, or active helping you imagine your next vacation, it doesn’t matter. You’re actually still doing something.
- This isn’t about sitting on your backside all day, this is about the length of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee – I think we can all invest that in ourselves and NOT feel guilty about it.
- Note for parents of young kids and expectant parents: finding time for a quiet cup of tea when your kids won’t even let you poop in peace is a challenge – believe me, I know. Take on that challenge. Help each other out, or grab opportunities for this 10 minutes of me-time whenever you can. Laundry CAN wait 10 minutes. Get creative and make finding that 10 minutes into a game. Everyone will benefit in the end.
- I’ll leave you with a popular poem, often quoted, but well worth re-reading and quoting to yourself as a reminder of the importance of a quiet few minutes.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad day light,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
– William Henry Davies
© Copyright Liz Wootton, 2013. All Rights Reserved