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  • Writer's pictureRosie Nicholas

The art of doing nothing (and the importance of scheduling it)

"Doing nothing" and being a mum might feel like completely opposing concepts; like that science experiment in school when you held two magnets of the same pole next to each other and they repelled each other, literally pushing one away from the other.

However, a little bit of doing nothing is essential rest and recuperation for all mums. The season of motherhood that you're in will determine how long you can "do nothing" for, but the rewards can be just as great regardless. Whether it's for a few minutes, an hour or even - sweet luxury - a whole day, this is definitely some important time to add in to your schedule.

For the purposes of this article I'm going to think optimistically and frame my suggestions around a day, but depending on the age of your little one/s you can swap out the day for an hour or two, or even 30 minutes. Admittedly it's much harder in the early stages to tap out (and sleep is usually the number one priority) but there are ways to be supported to claw back pockets of time, such as enlisting the help of others.

To be clear - when I say do nothing, it's open to your own interpretation. It can mean lying on the sofa with a book or in front of Netflix, breaking only for a snooze, food or a shower. Or it can be something more creative, like painting or doing some life admin that you often put off, but that always makes you feel better once you've done it. Because when I say "do nothing" it takes the pressure off us to make plans and be productive in the sense that society tells us we must be. So your Do Nothing Day could literally mean sleeping all day, which honestly might be the most productive thing you could do, especially if you're sleep deprived and have the opportunity to snooze alone in an empty house (the dream).

The point is to schedule it, then tell your partner, friend or loved one about it so that you're accountable, and then make it a regular thing. Doing any of the below as a one-off is nice, but making it a consistent recurring event creates a habit, and it's the habit that will bring about balance and a longer lasting feeling of restoration. Not to mention help you get through the next period of time before you're able to take a break again.

It might feel like one more thing to add to the never-ending to-do list, but try to reframe it as a positive. It's really the ultimate act of self-kindness. And surely it's better to know that somewhere on that long list of chores is something just for you, to help you fill your cup, rather than just the relentless churn of laundry, paying bills and tidying the house? It will also add clarity and focus to when you do have time to yourself because, if you're anything like me, as it's such a rarity it usually gets squandered away doing nothing in particular. Then comes the guilt of feeling like you've wasted that precious little time...

The art of doing nothing might take a bit of work to set up in the short-term, such as organising help from a babysitter or the other caregiver/s in your life, but it's definitely worth making time for in the long run. And if the thought of doing nothing in particular in your pyjamas* fills you with dread, then there are other ways to build back your energy whilst not exerting too much of it. Here are just a few:

  1. Personal errands day - see your chiropractor, book a haircut, organise that drawer you've been shoving too many clothes into, finally shave your legs (or is that just me?!)

  2. Restorative day - take yourself out for coffee and cake with a good book (10 points if it's not parenting related), or meet a friend there 30 minutes after you arrive so you get the best of both; time to yourself and time catching up with someone you love (and probably) miss!

  3. Personal admin day - get a handle on your personal budget for the month, set personal or professional goals

  4. Absolutely no plans day - clear your schedule (and your home if possible) and do whatever you need to do, no matter how small.

*pyjamas not essential

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