You may have noticed I have not been posting as much lately. Perhaps you noticed I’d been just about completely absent from social media a couple weeks ago. The reason for this is that I took a break. I realized that in the hustle and bustle of life, parenthood, blogging, I’d become too stressed and needed to step back for a bit, and I brought my family along on the journey.
Now, in this day and age you can probably imagine how difficult it was for me to completely unplug, let alone as a blogger. We did “cheat” a couple times to answer time-sensitive/emergency messages/phone calls (twice), to use the GPS so we didn’t completely get lost, and to save some money on supplies for our trip with Ibotta cash back and the Cartwheel app, but besides this we stayed entirely off of our phones, computers, and the TV. I even pre-wrote and scheduled all the posts you may have seen and read during that week.
Yes, I have been absent a little since our trip a couple weeks ago as well. Part of this is due to what I learned during our hiatus. I plan to take breaks more often as I can as it was a great experience. My goal is to share with you some of what I discovered and why you should take scheduled breaks as well.
1. We Depend Too Much on Electronics
There is nothing wrong with using electronics, in fact, they can be extremely helpful, relaxing, and entertaining at times, and sometimes even essential. However, I realized how very difficult it was for me to really take some time off and all the worry that came along with it…”What if I miss something important?” “What if I get bored and there’s nothing else to do?” or how about the fact that I can barely read a map and had to use the GPS?
2. Just Turn Your Devices Off
We left my husband’s phone on and notified people to contact him for emergencies, because he rarely gets notifications on his phone, but my phone blows up all the time, so I decided to turn mine off so the temptation wasn’t even there. I did take it along in case of emergency, but I did not touch it the entire trip. Yes, this meant that I came back to over 1000 notifications after that week which took a day to catch up on, but it was so worth it.
3. It Will Be Okay
Seriously, don’t have a panic attack. If you have deadlines that need to be met during your time off, plan ahead and schedule those to be done while you’re away. If you’re afraid you will miss someone’s announcement or a new opportunity or a phone call that may have been something, relax. Your time off is of much more value. I did miss a couple deadlines to enter for things, but you know what? There were more that I didn’t miss and greater that came afterwards. If you miss a phone call, if it’s that important, you will likely have a voicemail left or the person will text you what is wrong. A week away is really not that long, so you can get back to it all later. Don’t worry yourself, just enjoy the time. It will be okay.
4. Let People Know You’ll Be Away
No, I do not mean post all over and make it clear that you will not be at your home (might make you or your home a target), you don’t need to tell people where you will be, and don’t tell people straight up that you are avoiding them. What I mean is to make a quick post, send a quick text, or place a fast call to those who will miss you the most and who may be concerned not seeing you active and posting just to let them know you are okay and didn’t just fall off the face of the earth.
5. Even Without Electronics, the Stresses Are There
The main reason why I decided to take a break from all my devices was to rest and avoid stress even if it was merely a small break. I quickly discovered that you cannot completely avoid those stresses. Something somewhere will remind you of a person or situation that frustrates or discourages you. Past situations will creep into your discussions before you can change the subject. Your brain doesn’t stop creating scenarios or reminding you of all the reasons you needed this vacation, especially when you sit down in the quiet wilderness and try to put all your worries aside.
This is not meant to discourage you or to tell you this break was pointless, because it wasn’t, or I wouldn’t be sharing this and planning to take another.
6. The Longer You Stay Away, the Easier It Is to Relax
Of course we can’t take a forever break from electronics and all responsibilities (and we don’t get breaks from being a parent), but over the course of that week, it became easier to relax, to not think of all those things I wanted off my mind, to not want to check my notifications.
7. Go Camping
You may have noticed I mentioned the wilderness above. While my husband still had to work the first half of the break, we went camping for the rest of it. We only had a few days, but I know a week would have done wonders. In spite of no air conditioning, a muggy and moody first day, and a failed campfire, the following days were very successful, less stressful, and just a wonderful family bonding time. It also helped us to get away from the house and the area which helped us escape some stress from home.
We used our camping trip to get messy (well, the boys played in the mud just about every day); to sit around and enjoy the chirping birds, rustling leaves, and a gentle breeze; go hiking; and play games like Boggle, Phase 10, and Go Fish. We did venture out to some local stores and attractions as well, considering the temperature was in the 90s and humid. I’m planning a post on camping, so watch the blog for it!
8. Take Pictures
I really wish I had thought about this before our trip. My main camera that I use is big and clunky and costly so I didn’t really want to carry that with me everywhere to take pictures. Usually then I would just use my phone…however, my phone was turned off and hidden away, so I did not realize how difficult it would be to take pictures. We were able to use my husband’s phone here and there to save a few memories, but I really wish we could have documented more and gotten better pictures. I would recommend bringing a point and shoot camera, even if it means spending a little to get an inexpensive one just for this occasion.
9. Find Ways to Stay Busy
Relax. Yes, I really do want you to relax. I also want you to avoid the temptation to think about all the projects you need to get done when you’re home, how messy you may have left the house and all those suitcases you’ll need to unload when you get back, or all the things that get on your nerves. The best way to avoid this is to keep your mind and body busy, at least for the first part of your trip as you are getting adjusted. I found that when I just started to sit around and rest all these thoughts would start crowing my mind. When this happened, we usually decided to play a game, go for a hike, or take a trip to a frozen yogurt joint in the area. If you like to read, pick up a great book. Staying busy can sometimes be even more relaxing that sitting around resting.
10. Take Breaks Often
While you don’t need to completely avoid Facebook, your email, mobile games, TV shows, and work forever (though that may be a goal you should work towards many years to come), I did realize the value of a break, how much better I felt, how refreshed and energized I was afterwards, and how it’s changed the past week even after the vacation.
The reason I’ve not been posting as much since is that I’ve gained an appreciation for just chilling with my family, catching up on housework, and planning and organizing so it is easier to stress less in the future. In fact, being outdoors and thinking of homesteading made me realize I should start getting rid of some of our excess (whether by selling, giving away to friends, or donating) so there is less to deal with in the house, start meal planning and budgeting again since it had been put on the back burner, reorganize the house to make things less cluttered and easier to work with (to the point of moving furniture), toss out some processed foods and stop buying boxed mixes but making them myself instead, and even redecorate some to a style that inspires me to keep on this route.
I’m planning to get back into the swing of things here pretty soon, but I felt I should update you on my brief absence and hopefully inspire and encourage you to take a break yourself as well. You deserve it. In fact, I believe you need it. Yes, it is a challenge, especially at first, but it is definitely worth it.
Are you going to take a break? Do you think you can manage? What do you think will be your biggest struggle? Even if it’s just for a few days, a whole week, or even a couple weeks, let me know what you learn from the experience. Let’s discuss in the comment section below!Know someone who could use this? Hit the “share” buttons below! Be sure to follow Arts & Crackers on social media (buttons at the top right of the page.)
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