I have been a bit slow the last few days. Struggling to get up, slow to get anything done. I've been feeling demotivated and letting the late cold snap and an ongoing cold get to me. So when I woke up yesterday I had a long list of things to do all going round in my head and absolutely no inclination to do any of them.
I just about got the children ready and got them to school. By the time I had gotten home, I had made a decision. My brain could not take any more. I needed a break from it all. I decided to go on a mini retreat for the day, or at least whilst the children were at school.
No housework, no bills or forms, no chores, no blogging, no article writing, no e-mails, no Arabic practice, no sorting out maternity leave (which I am in the middle of), no wedding preparation (for a family friend), no school stuff (assemblies, trips, piles of letters), no thinking about Little Ladies secondary school options and what that would mean for us as a family, no worrying about money.
My brain was just too tired of it. Especially having done it all alone for the last four months with no one to discuss with or bounce my thoughts off of. I let my husband know how I felt (yes he’s back alhamdulillah!) and he offered to mind the baby for a while. I told him it was okay, wrapped up Darling and braved the cold for a long walk.
A nice idea for a retreat seemed to me a long leisurely breakfast, a spa, an afternoon with some friends or some time in nature. Having decided just that morning that I was going on a retreat, I didn't really have that option. So I took a walk into the town centre and walked about a bit. I bought myself a few nice things including the toner and make-up remover I like to use but which I hadn't bought in a while due to the price. After the amount I ended up paying, this is the last time I will be buying either!
After a good walk, I headed to the library and spent a sweet hour browsing books without the kids in tow trying to drag me back to the children’s section.
Being a responsible Muslimah, I headed back home for midday to make hubby some lunch. Once done though, I resolutely continued to ignore the piles of dishes and laundry and carry on with my retreat. By this time my brain had started to relax a bit and feel motivated enough to get on with the things I needed to do. I decided to hold off at least until it was time to collect the children and spent the afternoon reading my library books (finished the brilliant World War Z by Max Brooks and started The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha).
By the time I went to pick up the children I was upbeat, refreshed and motivated. I came to make a list of all of the things that needed doing and prioritised which were the most important. I whizzed through dishes and laundry which in the morning seemed insurmountable.
The whole experience was a reminder for me of how important it is to care for yourself as well as for everyone else. A little bit of me time and a period of time away from the constant demands and distractions of everyday life was such a balm for me. Even if it didn’t seem like a proper retreat, just making the decision to step away from things and give yourself some space was so beneficial.
Insh’Allah I hope to make some more spaces like this during my week every now and again. I recently watched an online discussion panel on women and business which included entrepreneur Ali Brown. She said something which captured my imagination. Over time she had de-scheduled at least fifty per cent of her time and stopped working on her everyday business during that time. She went for walks, she relaxed, she visited the beach. She found this time opened up so many unexpected avenues and opportunities for her. I loved this idea and have been trying to de-schedule my weekends as much as possible and be up for new experiences and fun with the children.
What do sisters do when they are feeling overwhelmed? How do sisters who live in cold places keep their spirits up when the cold weather and coughs and colds never seem to end? I would love some inspiration, ideas and advice from you.