I’ve read so many social media posts from UK friends this month commenting on what a hard time they’re having starting the new year. Rather than leaving them refreshed, revitalised, and ready for 2023, the Christmas break has left them wanting to snuggle back under the duvet until spring.
On this side of the world, we are having the opposite problem. It’s not the cold and the dark that’s making it a challenge to feel enthusiastic about work. It’s the delights and distractions of summer. The combination of sunshine and school holidays – which last until the second week of February – is not the most productive environment for two work-from-homers.
Just before Christmas, I turned on my out-of-office, noting that I’d be back at my desk from January 16th onwards. That’s the longest official break I’ve ever given myself as a freelancer. But when that Monday rolled around, it still didn’t feel like it had been enough. I was still enjoying daily naps on the sofa with the dog. Still taking walks, reading books, and decluttering cupboards… and not feeling even a little bit of drive to start responding to client emails.
Perhaps it’s not the season that’s the problem. Perhaps it’s just that we’re all of us – in the northern hemisphere and the south – properly exhausted after a strange, unsettled and occasionally unhealthy few years. Certainly in this house, 2022 was a year of multiple viral infections and surgeries – some of which took longer than expected to recover from.
I have bought myself a little wiggle room for now with a new automatic email response that says I’m back at work, but on reduced hours until school goes back. So on the days when my brain has felt functional, and DorkySon has been occupied with some other activity, I’ve ground out some words. And on the days when it hasn’t, I’ve given in to the naps without too much guilt. The concept of rest as resistance has been gaining ground in recent years, in no small part due to Tricia Hershey’s magnificent manifesto, and let me tell you I am HERE for that approach.
We’ve all stayed fairly close to home this summer. There is a potential UK trip on the cards in late 2023, but for now we are enjoying some of the fun stuff that’s on offer in Australia.
Back in November, I spent three nights in Melbourne, having a really lovely catch up with an old high school friend from Scotland who now lives there with her family. When I’ve visited before I’ve taken over her guest room, but now that there’s an adorable toddler in the mix, I booked a nearby hotel instead.
WHAT A TREAT!
It was right on Chapel Street in South Yarra, which is a great area for shops and restaurants. It was truly the best of all worlds – lots of opportunities to get to know my friend’s daughter with playground visits and kiddie gymnastics classes, plenty of time to enjoy some meals, gallery visits and cocktails alone with my friend (I had a Davidson Plum Cosmopolitan one night that was worth the plane fare in and of itself…), and then still a few hours left over for exploratory walks, op shop fossicking, and reading in my room. Even though I’m a real homebody and love our quiet little Hobart, it was a good reminder that spending time in a bigger city can be great fun – especially when it means a break from making school lunches and doing the early morning dog walk.
Mindful of how little time we’ve spent up on the big island as a family, DorkySon and DorkyDad flew up for three nights in Canberra earlier this month. It probably wouldn’t have been DorkyDad’s first choice of city break, but DorkySon was part of the Grade Five cohort who had their school trip to Canberra cancelled due to covid, and he was keen to make up for it.
They started with ambitious plans – the War Memorial, the Mint, Questacon, the Zoo, and the National Museum – but they were only there for two full days, and with both days hitting the mid thirties (without the benefit of Hobart’s sea breeze), they quickly pared their plans back. I think in the end they managed Questacon, many tens of thousands of steps walking around the lake, and a few good meals. They also hopped onto the light rail for a couple of stops and came right back again, just for the novelty value. Gotta love a good public transport system…
Talking of transport, DorkySon has taken his first flying lessons this holiday. If you’ve ever read any posts on his blog The Hobart Aviation Fan, you’ll know that he’s super keen on planes, but up until now that interest has been restricted to flights as a passenger, and photos from the end of the runway. Sitting at the controls of a Cessna is a whole new level… and while I know it will soon start to feel normal and routine, I’m not there quite yet.
A lot of people have asked if we are nervous about letting him learn to fly – and while I can’t answer for DorkyDad, the answer for me is not really. Probably less nervous that I will be about him learning to drive a car on the chaotic Tasmanian roads…
We trust DorkySon to take it seriously and do everything that’s asked of him. We trust his instructor to move him forward at a pace that’s appropriate for his age and skill level. And we trust Par Avion Flight Training to do all the proper maintenance and safety checks on their aircraft. Knowing all those frameworks are in place, it means the nervousness is by far outweighed by excitement and pride. It’s pretty cool knowing that he is seeing Tasmania from a perspective that we never will!
It has been a great summer. It really has. After the worst spring since we moved here nine years ago, we’ve finally had some lovely warm weather. We’ve found the right balance of activities and rest. We have eaten delicious food at the Taste of Summer Festival, introduced DorkySon to Home Alone and the first few James Bond films, and even managed not to fall out when we were putting the lights on the Christmas tree.
So I guess that is why we work – why even when the enthusiasm isn’t fully there, we get back to the desk and clear the emails and crack on with another year. To buy ourselves these weeks – weeks that sometimes stretch into months – where we fill ourselves up with happy new memories, challenge ourselves with new experiences, and snap a few new photos for the collection. To buy ourselves time for naps on the sofa, for a second cup of coffee in the mornings, for catch ups with friends. To buy ourselves days filled with Lego and books, beaches and ice cream, yoga and gardening.
It is a fair exchange, I think. It’s the motivation I need to restart this new year on Monday. Just a week or two later than anticipated.
2023 photo by Planet Volumes on Unsplash
Welcome to 2023…. and I so empathise with your sentiment. This winter, and I can’t put my finger on it, feels never ending. I love the concept of rest as resistance; that sounds right up my street…. and I really love that DorkySon has his own blog (clearly taking after Ma and Pa when it comes to words). Also, great picture of him flying. Very glad that the weather turned up in the end for your summer. Right…. I’m going to snuggle under my duvet until spring. X
Happy new year my lovely xxx
Resting and recuperating is a great thing to do over the holidays. And nanna naps are the best! Hope you are feeling on tip-top form for the new year.
Now retired, I can still remember all the vacations and how quickly they came to an end. I also remember that the first 4 or 5 days were spent decompressing, and then the anxiety about work returned 4 to 5 days before the vacation ended. It only left a few days in-between to relax and enjoy. I highly recommend retirement when you can! I am so excited that DS is learning to fly – what a great thing! And how great that he has two Dorky Parents who trust him to do this. Lucky young man.