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Having a Jammie Day

June 17, 2012

Guy In HammockModern society loathes the idea of individuals ‘being lazy’ (‘averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion’: dictionary.com).  In our busier-than-ever world of the 24/7 news cycle, workaholic employers and employees, seven day a week commerce, and always-on technology, people are prone to over-exertion and the feeling that if they slow down (or, heaven forbid, stop) whatever it is they’re doing to keep their minds and bodies and fingers busy, they’ll somehow miss out on something vitally important (the latest email, post or tweet; a potential job promotion; a sale on some product they really don’t need but have to have in order to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’) . 

This ‘go-go-go’ mentality is a modern-day extension of the Protestant work ethic – the post-Industrial Revolution notion that individuals need to work hard, be frugal, and achieve a level of personal success in their field of endeavour in order to be considered ‘worthy’ (to themselves and society).  The Protestant work ethic has been cited as a major contributing factor is the rise of capitalism in the West (while the burgeoning following of the Protestant faith in the East – with its focus on hard work and frugality – is being cited as a factor in the current shift in economic power to countries like China and India).

Five hundred years ago, the concept of ‘being idle’ wasn’t frowned upon at all – in fact, it was considered essential for one’s health and well-being. Philosophers, poets, musicians, and monks were famous for whiling away their time in quiet contemplation and every society had at least one day a week of ‘rest’.  Genius At WorkOver the centuries, many of the world’s greatest minds spent a significant amount of time being idle;  many of their greatest achievements were conceived through inactivity, daydreaming, and self-reflection. An idle mind (and body) isn’t necessarily one that is ‘doing nothing’ – it is one that is allowed the freedom to do what it wants to do without being forced along paths it’s not interested in following.

WRC on TVWhen my husband and I were first married, we began a New Year’s Day ritual of staying in bed in our pajamas and watching fourteen straight hours of World Rally racing coverage on SpeedTV.  The boys (my youngest, my husband’s only) were allowed to spend the day watching their own TV shows or movies (in the family room), playing video games, reading, or figuring out how to assemble the 1200 piece Lego sets they’d gotten for Christmas the week before.  Everyone was responsible for their own meals (I made sure the fridge was stocked with cold meats and cheeses, and there were fresh rolls and other ‘goodies’ tucked away in the pantry), and the day passed quite pleasantly. 

As the years passed (and the boys moved out), my husband and I began having ‘jammie days’ every couple of months as a way to relax, recover and rejuvenate from our busy teaching lives.  Couple Watching TVOn a particularly dull, dreary, rainy or snowy Sunday, we’d decide to simply stay in bed and catch up on our reading, have a mid-day nap, or watch old movies.  These ‘days off’ weren’t normally planned ahead of time, but we generally had a good sense when one was coming up, and I don’t think we ever argued when one or the other of us woke up on a Sunday morning and said, ‘I think this would be a good jammie day.’  We’d just seize the moment, and enjoy the downtime.

Writing Blog In PJsNow that I’m ‘retired’, I find I need fewer ‘days off’, but I never turn down a ‘jammie day’ when my husband suggests one (the family that lazes about together, stays together).  Occasionally (like today), one or the other of us will get up and wander off to do some small thing (like write a blog post, or scrounge around in the kitchen for something to eat, or look up a particularly compelling technical article on the Web), but the knowledge that we don’t HAVE to do anything particularly ‘meaningful’ makes the little things we choose to do that much more pleasurable.

I strongly encourage everyone to try taking a ‘jammie day’.  It’s highly rewarding (and just a little addictive) and anyone can you do it – you don’t even have to be on … the other side of 55.

NOTE: If you can’t see yourself staying in your jammies and lounging about in bed for an entire day, try other ways of being idle. Here’s a link to ‘10 Ways to Enjoy Doing Nothing’ (by Tom Hodgkinson of Idle Magazine, written for Real Simple Magazine)

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4 Comments
  1. June 19, 2012 12:53 pm

    We’ve had jammie days at our house for a long time, but especially at Christmas. One of these days we are likely going to have to explain to some police man why we are driving to our daughters house at 8 on Christmas morning in our jammies.

    • June 19, 2012 9:05 pm

      My brother’s grown children still head to his house first thing Christmas morning in their pjs to open their stockings! I like staying home in mine (I don’t think I’ve ever gone out in public wearing my jammies!)

      Margo

  2. June 17, 2012 5:19 pm

    I love this post! My husband and I from time to time spend Saturday and/or Sunday mornings in bed reading the newspaper, sharing our thoughts on various bits of news. Sometimes we have deep and meaningful discussions, other times we merely observe what’s going on in the world. It’s a wonderfully intimate time.
    When my now grown up daughter was living with us, she would often come sit on the end of our bed in her jammies and share the newspaper, as well as tell us what she had been doing the night before. Great family time!

    • June 17, 2012 6:45 pm

      Everyone should take the time to relax and enjoy a ‘day off’ every once in a while. It definitely recharges the old batteries!

      Margo

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