Relaxing: the Struggle is Real

I needed to wind down but had no experience with how to do that.

Some of my big-sized kids recently went to New Zealand with their rugby team to play some games and tour this beautiful country. Having always wanted to hike the Milford Track, my sister and I thought we’d take the opportunity to tag along, then promptly ditch the rugby peeps for this amazing five-day excursion.

There were a couple of things I didn’t really process that impacted me during the hike:

  1. Once you’re finished hiking for the day, there’s not much to do. Don’t get me wrong – we had a beautiful dinner, a few drinks and nice chats with other hikers. But, because you carry everything for the five days and you pack very lightly – no laptops, books or journals. On the first evening, I wandered around, not sure what to do with myself. Normally after dinner, I would be driving kids to activities, replying to emails, helping with homework, prepping for the next day, etc. There was NONE of that to do, and I sure felt weird.

    One other hiker observed my uncomfortableness and simply said “Julie, you’re at loose ends.” She was right. I needed to wind down but had no experience with how to do that.
  2. The other challenge was that the generator would shut down by 10:00 PM, so there was nothing to do but go to bed. I am a nighthawk. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed at 10:00 PM. Even in the days when I was getting up to feed babies throughout the night, there was no 10:00 PM bedtime for me. That meant I would lie wide awake in bed for a couple of hours every night.
  3. The biggest challenge was that I was 100% off the grid. I didn’t even bring my phone with me! There was no point. I thought I would miss the updates on social media and be frustrated that I couldn’t keep my e-mail inbox under control. I was able to get by without it, but found myself worrying that my kids had absolutely no way to contact me. I’ve never been so inaccessible to them, and it gave me a helpless feeling.

The experience of the Milford Track was amazing because of its beauty, and I got a little peek into my own quirks. It was an eye-opener for me – the notion of “me time” and “winding down” may be craved for some busy mothers, but not for this one.

RELATED: 12 Ideas to Pamper Yourself on Your Next Family Vacation

Veteran mother, Julie Cole has six very young children in her charge and is the co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc. She has encountered more than her share of fellow moms looking for advice, primarily about how she manages to juggle life with such a large brood.

With humour, she provides an upfront view of life in a busy family, including honesty about cereal for dinner, monstrous carpool schedules, and advocating for her child with autism.

Julie has become a well-known personality amidst Canadian moms. Her charismatic, dynamic personality has led to various speaking engagements, from morning TV shows to university level business classes.  Read Julie's blog for a motherload of practical advice on babies, balance, bedlam and beyond...

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