Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023
I'm 43 and I'm just now learning how to relax.  It took me a journey of doing nothing to learn how to do it.
  • I am a stay at home father of two.

  • A recent family vacation in which I did nothing taught me that I need to relax.

  • Now I intentionally plan not to do anything with the kids so that they also know how to relax.

in An episode of the popular Australian show “Bluey”,Chile Heller declares, “I don’t know.” How do you relax?“No line from the TV score was true to me. Chile is recognized for being an exemplary mother, but even she’s so tightly wound that relaxation is just out of reach.

I spent six hours with my 4 year old daughter Philadelphia on children museum the other day. Next, we toured Valley Forge before visiting the zoo the next day. Tomorrow we’re going to the trampoline park after we take her brother out at camp, grocery shopping, meal prep, and story time.

I finish each of these busy days nonstop at the computer, whether writing articles or working on my novels. Yes, I admit I am a workaholic. But the problem is deeper. I’m 43 and haven’t even experienced true relaxation until recently. This seems hard to believe, but it’s true, and I suspect there are others in similar situations.

A vacation in the Dominican Republic changed things for me

We were packing for a vacation in the Dominican Republic at Club Med Playa Miches Esmerelda, a new resort about 90 minutes west of Punta Cana. This was a vacation, not a trip, and by that I mean the club was offering camp style kids clubs every day for our two kids. Kids would go to the ocean, go swimming in the splash park, and have many adventures.

We knew they were going to have fun (and they did) and were looking forward to some downtime just for the two of us. I packed my laptop and was going about all my stylish jungle and ocean excursions around the resort. This is when my wife raised her hand.

She said “no”. “No laptop. No trips. No plans.”

I was confused. No time to write? This is what I do to relax. no trips? This is what all our trips involve – adventure after adventure. Isn’t that what travel is all about? I expressed my concerns and asked what we were going to do on the trip, the answer was really mind-boggling.

“Nothing. We will do nothing.”

I did nothing, and that was cool

Advance quickly to the beach. To that idyllic spot in the southern Caribbean where turquoise waters lap against golden sands. Where the gentle salt breeze brushes our sun-bathed skin with steady, relaxed ripples, the palm trees sway against the bright sapphire sky. My wife and I lay on chaise lounges on the secluded, almost empty beach, soaking up the sun. The kids were in the kids club, and their absence was a sweet, deep silence.

I admit I read from a book a while back. Then I did something revolutionary. I put down my book, closed my eyes, and turned off my brain. I put off drafting, planning, parenting, worries, pressures, and 100 other things.

I did not do anything.

And for the first time in my entire life, I discovered relaxation.

Every night, before I fall asleep, I now return to that shore in my mind, and find nothingness again. Moreover, I allow myself and my children to stop working. Yes, I’ve done a lot so far this week, but we’ve got a day ahead of us.

Take note, Chili Heller. Nothing is all.

Christopher Mannino Up at Home, authorAndFreelance writer. He writes fantasy books for children and adults and lives in Delaware.

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