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  • Writer's pictureTina

The Importance of Play

I don’t believe I am alone when I say it is very easy to get caught up in the “must do’s” of life and forget about the “want to’s” in life. It is a common problem that many of us face. We must do this or that and put off doing things that relax us, make us happy, enrich our lives, and give us that multi-faceted aspect. The cliché, don’t get so caught up in making a living that you forget to make a life, definitely applies.

I have decreed that there will be more downtime on the Smay farm. The Bibbed Wonder will work seven days a week, 12-14 hours per day, and then stress that he doesn’t get enough done. I have put into law that there needs to be a reasonable quit time, and Sundays are off-limits for work. This has been met with some resistance. However, I believe everyone must have a day to relax, rest, and recharge. Eric can go at a breakneck pace for quite some time, but eventually, this catches up with him, and he has a meltdown. He feels stressed, burned out, and overwhelmed. That is a bad space in which to be.

I am trying to enforce some sort of balance. However, when one works from home and has a young business, one tends to eat, sleep, and breathe that business. There really isn’t a definitive break with the company being on the farm. Yes, we have a great commute, but the pull and pressure to always be there is very real. Working from home has its advantages, but there are drawbacks as well.

The advantages are that we get to work from the place we love. It is an ideal scenario to work here. We enjoy working together, and I believe it has brought us closer together. It is convenient. We simply walk across the driveway, and we are at work. We are building something from the ground up, and that is rewarding. The satisfaction we have is specific to working for ourselves. We never had this level of fulfillment when we worked for outside companies or were teaching.

There are a few drawbacks as well. There is no real separation between life and work. There is always, always a distraction from one to the other. For example, if I spend all my time in the studio, my home suffers and vice versa. When I am in the studio, I think about everything that needs to be done at the house. When I am at the house, I feel guilty about not being in the studio. It’s a vicious cycle, and I feel like I don’t do anything well. Also, disagreements that happen in the studio or the house carry over from one to the other. We don’t have that separation to think and cool off. Another drawback is when one works from home, people assume one has all the time in the world to do other things than work. Nobody would assume I could go here or there just for fun during the week if I were teaching. Working from home does not have that divide. I find that people are easily offended if I decline an offer when I tell them I have to work. Others assume one has all the time in the world when one works from home. It is also effortless to blur the boundaries. What I mean is often we will say, “I just need to get this and this done, and then I will go to the house.” Thus far, there is no definitive quit time. It has become a bad habit not to have dinner until seven or eight o’clock at night. With a child, that is unacceptable behavior.

I believe it is essential to set aside time for family. Usually, when The Bean comes home, I force myself to go to the house. We sit with her while she has her after-school snack, listen to her talk about her day, and plan our evening schedule. I have been trying to have dinner ready by six o’clock, and we all eat together. It is difficult to have an early, reasonable quit time because most of our outside help works evenings and weekends. We trust those who help us but, it feels wrong not to be there. Striking a balance is more challenging than one might think.

There are things that we enjoy doing that we simply don’t have time for anymore. We have finally admitted defeat when it comes to gardening. We are also in agreeance that everything with the house has to be as low maintenance as possible. Keeping our herd numbers in check is also a priority and mostly keeping low maintenance farm family members is a priority. Of course, there are always a few exceptions. We agree that any significant projects that aren’t necessary will be put on hold until we have the business built up to where we feel comfortable…does that ever happen?

My goal for 2022 is to strike a balance between work and fun. However, it is difficult when one enjoys what one is doing. For instance, this weekend, I plan to go to the studio alone and play around with making soap dough. Soap dough would allow us to create easy, loaf size embeds that could take soap designs to a whole new level. I just want to be in the studio alone with my music and play around. I don’t have time just to play around anymore, and that makes me feel frustrated. Do you see how the lines between work and fun are easily blurred? Am I working, or am I playing? Perhaps, I am playing with a purpose.

Regardless, it is important to have downtime. If one is burned out, one loses inspiration. If one loses inspiration, one loses joy. If we can’t take joy in what we are doing, is it really worth doing? Food for thought, my dear reader. As always, stay safe, be smart, give yourself a break, and keep washing your hands.

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