A Real Day Off

Heavily Laden by Hannah Shepheard

A while back I went hiking in the mountains with my family. Just some quiet family time, enjoying nature. After I stopped for the umpteenth time to photograph some random thing, my husband said, very casually, “If I had realized you would be working I probably wouldn’t have come.”  Oops.

I am sure everyone realizes that when you are running your own business from home it is so easy to be always working. That goes double if you are doing something artistic. Even when you designate family time or “me” time, work seems to creep in. I am not very good at shutting it all off.

I thought I was saving time by multitasking family time as creative time.

But then I discovered how great a real day off can be. Oddly enough it wasn’t even intentional. My sons had been begging me to plant a vegetable garden with them. I did some research and decided to build a “Square Foot Garden.”

So we bought supplies, built the boxes, filled them, and then planted the seeds. All in one day, without me spending any time thinking about my business.

It was one of the best days ever.

Since then I have been actively seeking real down time, and I have discovered that I need to actively prepare for it. Here is what I need to do:

Work First 
It is never ever all done, but I try to make sure there is nothing urgent even if I have to get up early to finish up some tasks before having fun.

Plan Something
Because my work is often sedentary, I like to do something active, but anything that engages your mind and/or body will work. For me, unstructured down time becomes work time.

Don’t Just Observe
It is an easy role for many artistic types, but the mind will wander. If I sit on the sand and watch my kids splash in the water, pretty soon I start sketching ideas, but if I get in there and start building sand castles, too, I can really switch over to family time.

It is not a real day off if you check your email 16 times. I need to turn off the internet on my phone, leave my sketch book at home, and hand the camera over to my husband.

What strategies do you have for making your day off a real day off?

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