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What I Learned From A Long Break

January 3, 2012 · 92 comments

in Life

Christmas break in 2011 started on December 16th.  My daughter had a basketball game that night, and the following morning, we hopped on a plane and headed to Florida.  The weather was beautiful, the trip was great, and we returned on December 23rd.  After we returned, I ran around like crazy trying to get everything finalized for Christmas.  The holiday came and went, and the following week, I did…


I have never been less productive in my life.  I didn’t write (much), I barely cooked, I really don’t know what I did.  I guess I drove the kids to some practices, but I really have nothing to show for all the time I had off.

My lack of accomplishment is comparable to people that charge up their credit cards and then really have no idea what they spent all their money on when it comes time to pay the bill.

This ‘lazy December’ has made me realize I have to make better use of my time.  I know I was tired from the traveling and hosting Christmas, but geez, I don’t think I really needed a week-long reprieve.

One thing my break did do was re-motivate me to make better use of my time.  Quite honestly, I slept way too much during this break, and I never used to be someone that slept in.  However, when you hear the wind blowing outside and you know it is cold out, it is so easy to just stay under the blankets and sleep.

But then the comfort of warm sleep is countered by guilt.  However, while lazing about, I did a lot of thinking.

What I Learned From Being Lazy

  1. Sleep is addicting.  The more I slept, the more I wanted to sleep.  I could sleep 10 hours at night and still crave naps during the day.  What a waste.
  2. I can only relax so much.  If you told me that I would have nowhere to be and there was nothing I ‘had’ to do, I would have celebrated that thought in the past.  After having such an ‘unscheduled’ week, I realized I must have a project to focus on or something, or I will just flounder.  (In my defense, I do have an injured knee so I am somewhat limited in my activities, but that is a post for another day.)
  3. We better have a lot of money saved before we retire.  That thought was already a given.  However, while laying around thinking, I totally understood how some people feel lost when they retire.  If this past week was how I lived my life every day, I would probably go insane pretty darn quickly.   Part of the issue is feeling trapped inside the house because it is cold and blustery outside, which is why I want to have the ability to travel if I hate the weather I live in.
  4. I don’t handle change well.  OK, I have always known that about myself, but my belief was even more affirmed during my lazy week.  My life went from chaotic to traveling to completely unscheduled, and I have to say I missed my ‘normal’ life.  Heaven help me when the kids all go off to college…
Have you ever had an ‘unscheduled’ week?  Did you like it?  Am I just crazy?



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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai January 3, 2012 at 10:36 am

Welcome back Kris!

I’ve tried to do nothing for a whole week, but I failed with my 2011 predictions review and 2012 predictions on FS and having to write a year-end post on Yakezie.com. Those posts have taken a lot out of me, and I now would like to do NOTHING for the rest of the week… but I can’t.

Welcome back to normal life!



Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Sam, you are a better person than I.

By the way, make sure you don’t burn yourself out! I know how hard you work on Yakezie, your own site, and then of course your 9-5 job. (and tennis…) Make sure you take care of yourself!


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 3, 2012 at 10:56 am

Welcome back Kris! I think your retirement comment is right on point. I keep thinking about how boring it would be to do nothing for an extended period. You really would feel “lost” without some purpose.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm

It is so hard to imagine retirement, but yet, I bet it will feel like it came out of nowhere. I can’t believe I have been married for over 20 years and I have 3 teenagers already. My mind thinks I am 20, but my achy joints remind me I am 44. 🙂

I am trying to really think about the next phase (no kids) and then the retirement phase. Luckily, my husband and I are best friends so I think we will adapt to life as a couple again. However, I know the empty nest will be incredibly hard for me. (I am already having a hard time thinking about my oldest leaving in September!)


Joe Plemon January 3, 2012 at 11:03 am

I, like you, don’t handle “doing nothing” very well. But I am not sure all of my activity is a healthy thing. Do I get my self worth from my accomplishments (or simply from being me)? Would I spend more time visiting others and conversing with my wife if I wasn’t so determined to stay busy? Hmmm. My wife once said that I was the hurricane in our lives while she was the calm in the middle. She is right. On a positive note, I have been learning to insert more periods of relaxation into my life, and I believe I am better for it.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Joe, it can be really hard to find that perfect balance! I know sometimes taking a break in the middle of the day and reading a magazine is a wonderful break. However, if it is just part of my day and all day is a ‘break’, then I guess it isn’t as fun. I think I might be crazy…

Sounds like you and your wife are the right balance for each other!


krantcents January 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Unscheduled week could be torture! I like my routines even during vacations. I ride my bike every day, blog/comment/write a few or more hours a day depending on what I have to do. I try to keep evenings free for the most part. I am on vacation (teacher during the day) and it is going very quickly. We have had house guests, parties and I even managed to catch a movie.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I think we are similar KC. I just like having a routine, must go back to being a toddler or something, I don’t know. I have found that if I am well fed, rested, and on schedule, I am a pretty happy gal! 🙂


Little House January 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

It’s good to hear you’re back in action! I like having time off, but I have to be “doing” something with my time. Or I’ll go crazy. I’ve definitely gotten into a bad habit of sleeping in while on vacation, but I convince myself it’s okay because next week I’ll be up before dawn again and going until dark. Oh, and when you’re kids do go off to college, have a plan for yourself – start something new, take classes for yourself, travel, etc.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Writing is part of my plan for myself for when the kids all head off to college. My youngest is in 8th grade, but I know that he will be graduating before I know it. Good advice!


Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter January 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Welcome Back. It’s always nice the realizations we get about life when have some time to actually reflect. The clarity is amazing.
You are right about being only able to relax so much. I too get antsy and feel the need to go and do something one my time off. Drives my hubby nuts.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Perspective is always a good thing. I definitely felt antsy and would suddenly feel the need to just get out of the house, even if it was just to drive!


MoneyCone January 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

My most productive vacations (that’s an oxymoron!) were the one’s where I had no plans in mind! Too much planning ruins it for me!


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Well, the first half of my break was a fantastic vacation that was pretty relaxed.

The second half was just too relaxed. I think I feel cooped up with this stupid Michigan weather and my messed up leg.


Kaycee January 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I have no problems doing nothing. Because my nothing involves watching tv/movies, reading, being on the internet,etc.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Kaycee, I normally enjoy all of that stuff. However, it was like too much of a good thing. Although I am loving Tina Fey’s book ‘Bossypants’.


Squirrelers January 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Sounds like a nice week, actually! Sometimes a short stretch of time provides decompression, and a chance to get some perspective. I’m quite a ways from retirement, but I can see how some people have real difficulty with. I suspect that having a strong sense of purpose during those years and secondarily, activities that you can truly enjoy, will collectively be essential for a great, satisfying retirement.


Kris January 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I agree Squirrel, and also some money so you have the freedom to do what you want!


Linda January 4, 2012 at 10:08 am

I don’t think I’ve ever had a week to sit back and do nothing. I enjoy having periods of extended down time from work, but there is always something that needs doing around the house, yard, or some volunteer activity to involve myself in. Last weekend was an extended one for me (no work on Monday), but over the weekend I managed to clean the house (including dusting, which I hate and only do occasionally), re-organize a bookcase, see a movie with my guy, clean the chicken coop and the yard, go out to dinner with my guy, spend a day out with friends, and make a pot of chicken broth. I found it relaxing because I like to do things that involve taking care of myself and people close to me, and because I got to spend a few hours each day leisurely sipping coffee, reading, and knitting. 🙂


Kris January 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Linda, I would really like that day actually. I think part of my problem was going from insanely busy to not having a schedule at all. I need to set a fake schedule for myself or something, I don’t know.


Christa January 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I love the occassional lazy week, but only when I’m working outside the home. Now, if I have a lazy week, I go crazy! I need to have some structure, and that includes my daily walks to get out of the house. I also love to go to the grocery store now when before it was a chore.


Kris January 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Christa, you hit the nail on the head for me. I think I have too much time around the house since I work from home, and then I feel cooped up with the cold weather and all.

I think we should get a week off a month to go somewhere warm!


First Gen American January 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Sounds like Catholic guilt to me. I always come back from vacations exhausted feeling like I need a vacation from my vacation. I think a week of down time sounds really nice, but like you I would be feeling guilty about it…not because there’s anything wrong with it, just because that’s how I’m wired. I usually have to be far away from home to really relax. If I’m at home I just see the 10,000 things that need doing. That’s why I think staycations are terrible, because I never unwind when I’m home.


Kris January 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I feel guilt, and I am having trouble getting back into the swing of things a little bit. It is hard to just instantly change your sleep time I guess.

I totally agree about the staycations!


Invest It Wisely January 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I got a lot done during the first week off, but then during the second I slept in too late and was entirely too lazy. I felt a little guilty about it, and I also found that sleep could be addicting. Not only that, but the more I slept the lazier I got! That was no good. 😉


Kris January 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

You are so right Kevin, sleep is addicting. I remember when I was on bed rest years and years ago. I slept all night, and then I wanted to sleep all day, just because I was forced to do nothing. I can see why it is so important to keep the mind and body engaged!


Lindy Mint January 5, 2012 at 1:36 am

I was just talking about this with my mother-in-law this weekend. She just recently retired and within a few weeks she felt very purposeless. But eventually she started volunteering at a national park gift shop, then that led to her making crochet hats for them to sell there.

I usually need a week of complete laziness at least once or twice a year. It helps me clear my head and recharge. But I know how you feel. There are some Saturdays I allow myself to relax and find myself bored.


Kris January 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Lindy, it is great that your mother-in-law found something to do so quickly. I know many people struggle for the first year of retirement. My dream is to travel, so hopefully I would always have something new and exciting, but that might just be a dream!

I think I need one of those sun-lights, although it feels almost like spring up here in Michigan today, and so I feel extra motivated!


Jacq January 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

I bought a blue-light back in November – they are a very good thing to have.


Kris January 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I am seriously contemplating getting one.


101 Centavos January 5, 2012 at 8:14 am

Hey, welcome back, Kris! Your post is a good example of why retirement shouldn’t be just endless relaxation… it just turns the brain to mush.

I had a couple of wasted days during the break. The meds I’m taking for the middle ear infection (courtesy of the December Brazil trip) made me ‘blah’ and listless, and I slept during the day… which is very unusual for me. Back on the mend and in the swing of things for the New Year!


Kris January 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Ear infections are awful- I assume the flight caused your issue?

Glad you are feeling better, stay healthy!!


Jacq January 6, 2012 at 10:23 am

This is a recurring theme for me. But I also think / hope that aging itself might take care of some of these issues. Just in the same way that most of us were happy social butterflies and burning the candle at both ends in our 20’s, I really hope that I gain this “puttering” ability at some point in my 50’s and 60’s.

What I do is log my day every day with one of my good friends at idonethis.com (but you can do it on your own). The guilt of seeing you did nothing but reading and watching movies on a given day is often enough to get you motivated – the next day. 😉 My ideal (right now – subject to change on a whim and without notice) is just to have weekends and a couple of evenings a week a little more free to do things I want to do without the guilt of undone projects or ugh – cleaning – hanging over my head.


Kris January 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Oh my gosh, I would be scared to read how boring I was that week on a website like that, but what a great idea! I guess it is the same thought as a food diary. You ‘shame’ yourself into action in a sense.

I am going to check it out.


kathl January 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm

When I was 22, I worked on a political campaign. 9 am to 11 pm seven days a week. Frantic work. The election was at the beginning of November, and by the end of that week, I was unemployed. I did absolutely nothing until the week of Thanksgiving, and it was one of the worst times in terms of mental health. I felt guilty, but I could hardly feed myself, let alone meet up with anyone or apply for jobs or anything. After Thanksgiving, I was able to get back into working a normal schedule and feel normal again. But sometimes, that guilty week? Or, three weeks, in my case? Is just exactly what your body needs to refocus and figure out the rest of the to-do list.


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