I guess I’m a pretty typical parent. I am busy and my family is busy. We do lots of fun things and we do lots of things that just need to get done. When it all adds up, we are stretched a little thin. We are tired and we need some down time.
My husband and I have recently started turning one day of the weekend into our own Day Off From the World. We spend time together with our daughters. That is the only agenda. We don’t schedule anything. We leave all screens off. We get outside. We cook a lot. We read a lot. We listen to music. We dance and play. We nap. We bake things. We paint and create things. We make a mess. We chase each other. We hide and we seek. We build forts and snuggle in them. We spend one day of the weekend just being together.
When we started this practice we saw our daughters transform from their tired cranky end of the week selves into their energized joyous selves. They love having us present and participating with them all day. Time does not rush or push. There is no “have to, must, or should.” Their creativity astounds me every time.
Today my three year old handed me a ball of yarn and said, “hold on and go hide.” She held on to the end and I let the yarn spool out behind me as I walked to my hiding place. After finishing her counting she began collecting the yarn, slowly making her way to me in my hiding place. “I found you!” she announced. “Next time hide better.”
Meanwhile, my six year old and my husband were snuggled in the blanket fort we had constructed earlier that morning. He is telling her about his adventures as a child riding his blue bike. Her questions come one after another asking for more and more detail.
These games and moments of connection need time to come about. They need unstructured non rushing time. Children have fantastic imaginations and they are naturally inquisitive. What if they were not always on their way somewhere to do something? What if the doing was just being together? Helpful for us grownups too maybe?
After our day off we feel rested. Our emotional cups are full. We have connected and reconnected. We have talked and hugged and told stories from our week. Each of us has spent time with each other member of the family. As we head into another week we are full with the feeling that we belong to this family, to these people we love.
So take a hint from ancient traditions and modern wisdom. Whether it is observing the Sabbath or listening to the advice in the book Simplicity Parenting: take a day off. Connect with your people. The world will be there when you get back.