The abandoned mugs of tea
‘Where did I put my tea?’
This was the familiar cry as I grew up in our roomy four-bedroomed house in the north of England. Mum forgetting to drink her tea was a huge family joke. We’d find half-drunk mugs of cold tea on the stairs, in the bathroom, by the phone …
We were encouraged to destroy the environment!
Mum’s tea had become more mobile thanks to Green Shield stamps. Back in the sixties, petrol purchases were rewarded by stamps. The glossy catalogue promised unattainable items such as a TV or motor boat. However, well within reach were the slim glass tumblers wedged into a brightly-coloured plastic holder*, of which we had several. Prior to that we used cups and saucers; they force you to sit down and take a break.
We were a fairly typical two-children family. My father worked full-time and expected dinner (or was it tea?) on the table at six. My mother worked part-time (physically tiring housekeeping roles, always on her feet) as well as looking after us, the house, and her mother-in-law, who lived with us.
Recently I gave my Mum’s tea habit some thought
She definitely liked tea. She made tea often. In fact, it was her habit to walk into the house and switch on the kettle straight away. ‘I’m dying for a cup of tea,’ she would say. But often she didn’t drink it.
Did she get distracted by other demands on her time, or did she not necessarily want the tea in the first place?
Perhaps her tea habit developed during her childhood in a rural home where money was tight, or while she was a nurse during World War II. Tea is a cheap and simple comfort when you’re tired, upset, or aching.
Tea is less harmful and cheaper than cigarettes but perhaps it stopped her considering her real needs
In certain situations she’d have been better served by Active Rest, something she’d never heard of. When she was thirsty, a glass of water might have been sufficient. When she felt hot and sticky, a shower would have been refreshing, but we only had a bath, and taking a bath wasn’t a daily activity. (I hasten to point out that we nonetheless kept ourselves clean! Instead we’d have a daily all-over wash – neither as relaxing nor as caressing as a shower.) And sometimes, perhaps, Mum simply needed a hug, but instead would tackle the next job that had to be done.
What do you REALLY need?
Habitual behaviours, even non-harmful in themselves, can stop you noticing what you really need. Whether your habit is coffee/wine, checking your phone, or slumping in your chair, be aware of it and ask yourself if it’s giving you what you need. If not, try some alternatives: a glass of water, some movement and stretching, a conversation, or a session of Active Rest.
Every month in Lewes I run an introductory Active Rest class because it’s a very useful skill to have at your disposal. The next one is on Thursday 9 May and you can sign up at The Open Door clinic, 01273 474949.