Comfort is in routine, I find. My routine is waking an hour before everyone else to prepare breakfasts, lunches and shoo everyone out of the door spit shined, pressed and dropped at the schoolyard gate covered with kisses to last them through the day. Routinely, this first shift of my day lasts 2 hours and returns me home to quiet. I know what is expected of me and most of it is done by rote but vacation days are all day, shoving routine out the door. There is no quiet.

‘What are we doing today?’ is a loaded question in which a split-second, pre-coffee decision must be made. It does not matter that I spent the night before learning the songs to innumerable Disney standards and have been conditioned to anticipate the laugh track. I made enough cookies to last through Home Alone 1, 2 and 3 until 3, and this after whipping my hair back and forth so, that a chiropractor must realign me. I have proven myself not old, yet old enough to impart some old-school fun. But, the fun (and science) of actually popping popcorn like we did pre-microwaveable bags was yesterday. ‘Today’ is now! And what’s doing may make or break the remainder of this week. Their puppy-dog stares twitch slightly, promising that if I should come anywhere close to a foul with my answer this jacked-up day will forever be etched onto their tiny hearts. They’ll share with therapists. They’ll tell their kids, ‘Grandma ain’t all that.’

‘What’s the plan?’ is the spousal unit getting a gauge on what my routine is. His job requires a bam-bam-bam Who’s Next?/What’s Next?, ‘MAKE IT HAPPEN!’ mentality so he’s expecting an answer that is thorough and thought out. No matter what my ‘plan’ is, he always follows with, ‘And, then what?’ This is far more stressful than the To-Do list looming in the back of my mind from which I pick of the low hanging fruit and usually accomplish (or not) by day’s end. He wants to know ‘the status’ of stuff. He wants to catch up on ‘the future’. I will toss and turn through the night thinking of a suitable response for the morning.

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With Thanksgiving prepped the week before, I was confident to reply I had nothing planned. Bad idea. Grammar is everything. I spent the first two days filled with doing everything but nothing. I would have fared much better had I said, “I plan to do nothing.” I got specific in laying forth my agenda the next day – laundry, organizing my closet, unearthing my desk, relaxing my hair, reading a book…cramming the day with minutiae I really had no intention to do just to leave room for nothing. But, I realize that he understands as the kids do – anything uninteresting also means nothing. He prances in moments later on white horse to rescue me from boredom with, ‘Guess what? We’re going ice-skating!’ no matter that I – A) don’t know how B) don’t like the cold or C) Do. Not. Like. The. Cold.

Of course I am thankful for the time we are spending together but so far, the week has been ‘All circuits GO!’ and I’m ready to hit switches. Come Monday, I will downshift back to the organized chaos in which I thrive. I won’t complain about running here and there. I will wake with a cheerful glow and roll out biscuits, flip pancakes, or hatch eggs myself with a smile, having a new appreciation for the relaxation to come. I’ll scribble little note cards to hide in backpacks, lunches, and suit pockets to let them know that I am thinking of them while I’m doing nothing. Quietly.

Time Out! Why Embracing Time Alone Enhances Your Time Together

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