In recommending The Right to be Lazy as part of her summer reading list, author Naomi Klein said that "leisure time badly needs to be reclaimed as a human right and low-carbon lifestyle". Pretty strong words. On the same day I read this in The Guardian, I also learned in Drapers that the owner of an independent fashion boutique decided to close down her shop in order to swap "retail for relaxation". It's as if the quest for relaxation is the holy grail of modern life.
I thought, perhaps naively, that maternity leave from my job as a fashion editor would offer just that: a period of down-time, of getting back to basics. And it did. But I was too caught up in the relentless day-to-day of looking after a baby, including the enormous pressure I put on myself, to see it - and appreciate it - until my daughter was about 8 months old. Maybe it's because we so often judge success, satisfaction, accomplishment (etc etc) based on our professional lives that we don't recognise the pleasures of leisure time when it's staring us in the face.
For me, leisure doesn't equate to skydiving and relaxation to a lie-in (although now that this is non- existent, it would be quite nice occasionally), but to lots of things that happened during my maternity leave. As I prepare to go back to work, I will always look back fondly to, and yearn for, these moments:
- Seeing Queen's Park change in detail through each season, spring being my favourite as the flowers bloomed and looked forward to summer. My daughter refused to sleep unless pushed in her pram, so I would often walk five miles a day. I know this park inside out...
- Getting a tan without trying. (My daughter was born in the early summer and we had a great one in 2014).
- Discovering podcasts. It was difficult to read when walking for so long.
- Discovering the New Yorker. In the rare moments when my daughter did sleep whilst stationary, the New Yorker was very portable.
- Feeling like you've done nothing at all. All day. And that it’s ok. (Of course, anyone who has a baby knows that it's a different kind of work and it's non-stop. But it doesn't involve emails with the word "strategy" in them).
- Spending days, that rolled into weeks, with my mum.
- Eating whatever I wanted because I walked so much and was breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding. A beautiful, calming way to bond with my daughter.
- Finding life so tough that my husband decided to work four days a week and spend the fifth with us, as a family.
- Using that extra day to go swimming in Parliament Hill lido, Hampstead
- Watching my baby grow into a beautiful little girl.
Winding Down with Ana Santi
Night Cap or Night Cream?
Night Cap. Normally a glass of wine, Prosecco for a special occasion or, if I really deserve it, a G&T.
Story Time or FaceTime?
Story time. I’m currently reading short stories from the New Yorker. And I’ve tried to set a rule where phones, iPads etc are off by 9pm.
Currently Night T, although my daughter loves the Cap Nap PJs.