The importance of being idle.
You've got to nourish to flourish!
The title of this post is named after a song written by one of my favourite bands, and although the song is about someone who spends his life being lazy, this post is not about being lazy, it is about the importance of taking a break and putting time aside for yourself.
We recently posted a quote on our Instagram which said “sitting in your car outside your house is self-care. I can’t explain it, but if you know, you know!”
Not surprisingly a lot of people agreed, taking those extra moments for yourself in the car is something a lot of people do, but it can also be a contentious issue in relationships, and the source of arguments, I know it certainly was for me in my previous relationship *Phone rings “Matthew why can I see you sat in your car again clutching a can of tennants super strength lager, shouting it should be me!!! While looking at pictures of your friends enjoying themselves in Ibiza”.
Although it never got to that point, we can often find ourselves trying to find moments to be alone and find some space to get our heads together, especially as new parents, and as blokes we find more and more elaborate ways to do this. Whether that be sitting in your car or taking much longer than needed sat on the toilet, maybe mowing the lawn for the 550th time this week, or going to B&Q for “essential” supplies, and of course this can cause some partners to feel angry or disappointed, especially if they’re struggling themselves, as it can often feel like they’re being abandoned, or that you’re not working as a team.
We can be our own worst enemies sometimes by not being open with our feelings and instead of saying I’m finding it hard, because that makes us feel weak and like we’re not being the “rock” of the family, we’ll say I’m going to B&Q or some other place where you know there’s little chance you’ll be followed.
The problem with this approach is that although it allows us to save face, it's also just a quick fix, often filled with guilt or the danger of getting found out by the missus, so rather than relieving the stress we compound it. In reality we're just plants, we need food, water and a good amount of sunlight, if you have a plant growing at home and it starts wilting, you don't hide it away or try and fix the plant, you focus on its environment.
One thing that can happen a lot when you're new parents is that stress and tiredness can replace kindness and understanding. Every day is full of selfless acts from night feeds to nappy changes so the idea of saying you're tired and need half an hour out to focus on yourself, and re-energise seems not only outrageous but downright selfish, and if you do summon the courage to ask your partner, it is often met with sheer anger and contempt. An easier option would be for us all to make it a "thing" that we ask our partner at least once a day if they need some time out for themselves, the problem with this is that some mums and dads find it difficult to accept the offer, which is why we have written a blog about self-care.
Self-care is a word that has been banded around lately, it has a Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop blog sort of feel to it, and often for some of us fellas the wording sounds more like something you’d do while watching porn hub, than something that should be part of our daily life, but In reality it’s more about allowing yourself some time to have a breather.
That can be anything from going down the pub with your mates after work for a quick pint, or going to the gym for an hour in the evening, it can be choosing to remove toxic people people from your life, or just getting an early night every now and again. One of the best pieces of self-care I did was to listen to the things I was saying about myself in my head, and how fucking horrible, judgemental and negative I was about my appearance and behaviour, I then imagined I was saying these things to my daughter or a 4 year old version of myself and it really helped me put into perspective what a twat I was being, and helped me be more positive towards myself, this allows your outlook on everything to become more positive and life becomes much easier. The point is as parents, and quite frankly as human beings, we all need time to focus on ourselves, without the feeling of guilt or selfishness.
Self-care is not an act of selfishness nor is it an indication that you don’t pull your weight, it's actually the opposite it's ensuring you are in the best shape mentally and physically to take care of the kids and your family, everyone has heard those tired analogies of "you have to put your mask on first during a plane crash so you're better equipped to save others" but your life isn't a plane crash and it doesn't have to be, life is not a plane, it's a boat, it has its ups and downs, we might have to weather a few storms, but if we take a minute to get ourselves on the right heading every now and again, it's much more likely to be smooth sailing!