Like most people, I'm busy. I've got three kids, a job and a to do list that never seems to be finished. There are days I forget if I brushed my teeth that morning, but when I go back to check, my toothbrush is wet, every time. As busy as my days can be, I am taking the time for personal hygiene, because it needs to be done.
Lately, I've been feeling nostalgic. Maybe it is because my oldest son is about to turn 18, and this milestone marks the end of his childhood. It is natural to want to look back at that childhood and my part in it. Or maybe it is because some friends in my circle are still having babies and creating young families, and their experiences are bringing back memories of when my days were busy in a different way, filled with diaper changes and trying to keep small people alive or get them to go to sleep. Being a mother to small children was easily the most exhausting and busy time of my life, yet it was one of the most creative.
Although I was more busy than ever, there was natural downtime built into my days. Time to think about something other than my to do list. Time to just be and feel the sunshine on my face or notice the sound of the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. Time to sit in a rocking chair and let my mind drift to the motion and lilting music meant to convince a baby to nap. Time like that allows room for creativity. I wrote so many story ideas on the back of an envelope while a baby slept in the car or while I was sitting on a park bench watching at toddler play in the sand. Entertaining toddlers meant walking to the park almost daily, or sitting in a chair in my driveway for the better part of an hour blowing bubbles or drawing on pavement with chunky sidewalk chalk pieces.
I need more time like that, and time doesn't just appear, I have to make it. I have to find some moments in my days to allow my mind to wander and give my creativity more space.
I started with a daily walk. This is something I enjoy, and tried to do when the weather was good or I felt determined to take better care of my health. It isn't just good for my body, it is good for my creativity. This had to stop being an occasional treat to something I do, like brushing my teeth. This makes me wish I had a dog, or a long walk to my mailbox.
Having that time makes me hungry for more. These days I am not spending much time on park benches watching children try to impress me with what they can do. Maybe I can find some time doing routine jobs at work, or during the commute, or while cooking dinner. Or maybe I need to stop and take 5 minutes to sit in a chair and watch the sunset and let my mind wander. I deserve it. Let's call it part of our mental hygiene.