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Respite Work

When I was in college, I had a unique and rewarding job as a Respite Worker. In this position I would pick up children with emotional impairments and keep them for a few hours to give their families a break. We were often given free passes for fun activities like miniature golf or the movies. I would also take them to parks to spend hours playing in nature.

As I’m winding down the year and enjoying a semi-sabbatical, I realize that I’ve become my own respite worker. As a business owner I’m giving myself a break from the fast-paced days filled with clients, meetings, paperwork, and facilitating workshops. During the down time, when I’m not resting, I’m engaging in activities that spark joy in my soul.

How might you infuse the spirit of respite in your work? Here are some strategies to support you on that journey.

Support Systems. When we hear this term, we often think of a group of people who are there to help us in our times of need. I want to acknowledge that for some of us, this may not be a readily available or preferred resource. In this instance, we can employ literal systems that will support us and give us space for rest.

This may look like using templates and automation for emails or social media posts. It may be using virtual gatekeepers like scheduling software and integrations that connect all your favorite communications tools. I used to spend a lot of time going back and forth via email trying to schedule meetings, set up calls, or scout meeting locations. Now I simply send a link that has my availability to clients, colleagues, and even friends. Once they schedule, it automatically sets up a Zoom meeting for us and gives them the opportunity to share what they hope to get out of the meeting in a short electronic questionnaire.

What literal support systems might you activate to reclaim your time for respite?

Recess Reimagined. We are in an era where many of us work remotely. For those who have returned to offices, we are often there for hours on end. Like children in school, sometimes we just need to go outside and play. Since I see many of my clients virtually, I spend a lot of time at home. Fridays are usually reserved for date night, but both of us are often so exhausted from the intensity of a long week as entrepreneurs, that we just have those date nights in the house. So, this weekend it was a huge relief when my partner and I went out on an adult play date and had a funky good time outside of the home.

How might you reimagine recess as an adult to reap the rewards of respite?

Lenient Landing. When I was a respite worker, one of the young people in my care wanted to go rollerblading. We were having a fine time until he decided that we should roll down a steep hill in a cul-de-sac. As I picked up speed and began to lose control, I realized that I had made a bad decision. To save myself from a catastrophic injury, I threw myself on someone’s lawn to break my fall. I still managed to dislocate a rib, but thankfully I hadn’t broken any skin or bones.

Sometimes we get so excited about taking a break that we try to plan and do all the things during our time off. I suppose that’s where the term ‘work hard play’ hard originates from, but I invite you to plan for a soft landing after you’ve toiled intensely. Even when we are doing things that we enjoy, they can cause just as much frenzy, chaos, and stress as our work does if we are not intentional about creating space for real rest.

What or who might be a lenient landing for you after long stretches of labor?

This week I challenge you to retain respite workers literally or figuratively. Identify people, systems, or strategies that can give you a break from your routine roles and responsibilities to rest and recharge.

Manifestation Affirmations

I am setting up systems of support to reclaim my time for rest.

I am reimaging recess to reap the rewards of respite.

I am luxuriating in lenient landings after long stretches of labor.

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