Relaxing – for me, it is quite an easy thing to do. Once Bonzo is in bed, I often faff on Facebook & Twitter, sometimes watch a bit of tv, often drink a glass of wine, sometimes have a long hot bath, but always, always read. Reading is the main way I relax and has been since I was in my late teens.
I will read anything. It is quite normal for me to have fiction on the go, as well as a factual book (often adoption and attachment related) and more often that not I have the remains of a Sunday newspaper strewn around my bed. So, book read (at the moment a Jo Nesbo) off I go to sleep.
Bonzo however, is quite different. I really don’t think he often relaxes. He is normally too busy keeping an eye on me, or listening for strange sounds to relax too much. Though he is getting better – I often find Lego games which he has clearly relaxed into – using his imagination and forever improving building skills. To get to the playing stage though, normally involved me telling him ‘to start playing before I find something more interesting like a job for him to do’.
He doesn’t relax at bed time. He is normally rigid when I give him a hug goodnight, reacts negatively to any form of touch, hates being comforted when hurt – in fact, nothing really makes him relax.
Exercise definitely helps him. He is more relaxed on a Saturday after bike club than before it, and enjoys his swimming lessons – these days I get lots of thumbs up directed to me from the pool (probably his way of making sure I’m watching, but he is clearly enjoying it).
And books. I am so, so happy that books are such an important part of Bonzo’s life. I am more than happy that he will sit around ‘reading’. We read books before getting dressed in the morning, books in the evening and often, if time permits I read to him before he goes to school.
For a relaxing activity together we normally head to the woods, or lake, or canal. Anywhere where I can walk, Bonzo can jump, run, climb and be free to relax. Few rules, no need for too much eye contact, nothing to argue about. Many weekends have been saved by a 2 hr walk round the woods. Starting with tension and ending with a chat over a hot chocolate. I am lucky with this as Bonzo can easily walk 4 miles before he starts moaning, more if it involves a picnic or stop off at a pub (for an icecream!).
So, while ‘relaxed’ is not an adjective that anyone would use to describe Bonzo, he is able to relax more than before. If I was measuring it in time, I would guestimate that he spends about 20 minutes in a relaxed state on a school day, possibly 60 minutes on a Saturday.
So, not the most relaxed person you could meet, but we’re working on it.