Work-life balance: the importance of just stopping

I am writing this blog post to let you know that I won’t be writing a blog post this week. The summer holidays have started and it is time to chill out with my family. Well, I say with my family but since the kids turned into teenagers it has been increasingly difficult to get everyone together in the same place at the same time.

We have no family holiday booked. My eldest has already headed off on a charity expedition to Peru for four weeks (yikes!). And the youngest is vehement that hanging out with his Mum is not on his wish list. Begrudgingly, he has agreed to come on a short break to Berlin with me. (GCSE History parents will spot my not-so-hidden educational agenda there…)

But taking time off work isn’t just about family. It isn’t just about childcare. It’s about rest and recuperation.

Those of you with toddlers are probably scoffing and thinking “If only!” But actually, the bigger the demands placed on you (by family or by work), the more important it is to just stop sometimes. Get off the hamster wheel for an hour, for a day, for a week and truly rejuvenate.

As any athlete knows, recovery time and rest days are what enable you to keep training. The same goes for parenting.

For me, that means just stopping.

Except stopping isn’t so easy. (Here I am writing a blog post when I had declared I wouldn’t!). There is always one more thing to do. A reason to keep going just a little bit longer. Habit. Guilt. That self-defeating belief that things will fall apart if we stop spinning the plates. Stopping feels selfish.

It isn’t. Looking after yourself is one of the key principles of positive parenting. Good parenting means managing your own wellbeing proactively. Too much stress impacts negatively on both you and your children.

So, for those parents who may have fallen into the trap of putting time for yourself at the bottom of the To Do list, I give you permission to stop. In fact, I insist you stop. Whether it is five minutes to breathe deeply and feel the sun on your face, an hour to take a walk just because it’s a nice evening, or a long weekend away with your partner – invest some time in you.

Personally, I shall be taking a few weeks off from presenting, tweeting, writing and coaching. I’ve got no plans. I’m not going to do any chores. My children may or may not want to spend time with me. But I shall be relaxing and trying to embrace each day as it comes.

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