When people hear that Ben and I both work from home most of the time with pretty flexible schedules, they typically respond the same way: “Oooh, that must be so nice! I am so jealous!” as images of never-ending snooze button use and midday snuggle sessions dance above their heads. Which, yes, totally happen. Once in a while.
But honestly, sometimes it’s kind of hard. Days blur together and chores are impossible to ignore, and work tumbles into evenings and weekends as the allure of yoga pants eventually fades away into a craving for an excuse to dress like an actual professional adult. The grass is always greener, they say. And I’m not complaining – I am deeply grateful for this time in our lives, knowing that it likely won’t last forever.
In order to provide some semblance of structure to our lives, Ben and I are trying to adopt daily and weekly rhythms to define our time. We don’t follow the plan perfectly yet. It helps, though, that both of us are on board – when I feel sluggishly tempted to slack off, I am encouraged by Ben’s commitment (and vice versa; though, to be honest, mostly I’m the slacker). Here’s our current setup:
We’ve instituted thirty minutes of reflection and fun after waking before using any electronics. We stretch, drink water, make coffee, journal, draw, read, talk, tidy up, go on a walk, whatever. This space is slowly becoming very important for me: starting the day with calm and quiet, with nobody but Ben, without anxious scrambling of to-do lists. Of course, it’s also easy just think of what it’s not: just get through this half-hour and then finally I can check those text messages! When that is not my mindset, my mornings are so good.
Throughout the day, we try to fight the temptation to nap on the couch in a few ways. We’ve cobbled together some standing desks so that we can work standing up, since it turns out that sitting down will kill you. Or something. We try to drink a lot of water and tea, making use of the at-home perk of having our whole tea collection a few steps away. Some days, I set alarms every hour to take a break from work, walk around, drink more water, and stretch or use the foam roller. During lunchtime, we don’t look at phones or laptops.
In the evening, we do another thirty minutes electronics-free. We wind down in much the same way as we start in the morning: reading, talking, whatever. It’s nice to give our eyes a break from constant bright screens, so we make sure to only watch TV at night if we start it fairly early. Which sometimes means eating chocolate chip pancakes for dinner in front of an episode of Breaking Bad. Or two episodes. What?
We also follow a weekly shabbat, or Sabbath. This means that for twenty-four hours, we only do things that are restful. We start with two candles and traditional Jewish prayers (and wine! Priorities!) on Friday evening, followed by a night and day of downtime. I try to always incorporate something outdoors during this time since being outside tends to rest and feed my soul. We avoid phones and internet and limit screen usage to one episode of TV. We play with friends and each other, do extra fun outings or take extra long naps. The important part for me is to determine what I feel like I need on any given week (more rest, more nature, more friends, more cooking, whatever) rather than planning in advance. Spoiler: I almost always need more naps and more trees. I guess I should pay attention to that trend.
The other weekly framework we’ve been following is with exercise: 4-5 days on, 2-3 days of intentional rest and recovery. Because I am married to a major fitness nerd, we have a very carefully strategized workout scheme including weightlifting, sprints, yoga, and God knows what else. I dunno! I just follow the plan.
These structures have got me thinking more about what it would look like to have bigger-picture rhythms. I’ve had friends who incorporate things like a monthly day of silence and/or solitude, a quarterly overnight out of town, an annual weekend of reflection and visioning, and the like. I suppose I’ve always just shrugged off those ideas since I frankly feel too young and unsettled to make plans MONTHS IN ADVANCE or commit to something BIANNUAL (errr is that twice per year or every two years, anyway?). Who knows where I’ll be living or what job I’ll be working or what my Saturday night availability will be during this time in 2013!
What I’m learning, though, is that the power of rhythms like these is found in my choice to use them to structure the unknowns – using them to create frameworks of health, rest, connection, and play into which all the other little pieces can fall. Or maybe I’m just becoming an old fart. Sigh.
Hi! I'm Emily. This is my blog.
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