Alex Molton enjoys a bit of sunshine after a long few grey weeks and considers whether we can all slow down a bit.
Well, it seems that the long cold winter people always complain about is easing and the skies are brightening again with the promise of warmer weather. Personally, I actually love the winter and the cold bright days, although to be fair this one has mainly just been grey. And very, very wet (with no hope of keeping any floors clean in a house of three kids and a dog).
It’s amazing the difference a bit of sun has on people. Everyone seems a bit cheerier, more patient and nicer on a sunny day (except the kids, who somehow this week have managed to have a three-way argument while seeming to be disagreeing about different topics).
Contrary to my new year’s resolutions to do less the last couple of weeks have been manic, with work and family life jam packed. However, in amongst the madness I did manage to play a tennis match for the first time in two years. Anxiety, lack of confidence and an irritatingly persistent tennis elbow have all got in the way of getting on court for far too long and it felt fantastic to be back. I even managed a few good shots in amongst quite a few duffs.
I played with a friend who has recently given up her incredibly full-on job and we chatted on the way to the match about her plans to take a break from work to get her eldest son through his GCSEs, get another son on track with his recently-diagnosed diabetes and support one of her youngest who struggles with school and finds it all very stressful. She had had an epiphany and realised that working 14-hour days with four children and a partner who often travels for work was not sustainable and was fed up of feeling that she was doing too much, and doing it all badly.
I could empathise (although I think have a bit more balance now), but it made me think of other parents I know who are burning themselves out trying to provide a good family life, excel in their careers and, in some cases, care for older parents or partners who need support. In the same way that our 30’s were all about having babies, starting kids at school and forging a family life, our 40’s seem to be characterised by an incredible sense of pressure and unbelievable levels of stress. I do worry what it is doing to our health and what the future will hold for us when we are used to running at such a pace.
Some of it, I think, tracks back to Covid and the effects of this on the workplace and people’s careers, and, of course, we are all affected by the cost of living being so high, but surely we can collectively find a way to ease the mania of everyday life and carve out some time to pause and reflect. With the longer days approaching we can spend more time in nature, enjoy having more time in the day and hopefully find more balance in our everyday lives. And we really need to, for the sake of our health and our futures.