June 20, 2012
By Sue Ludwig

You Love Being a Neonatal Therapist AND You Need a Break- The Lost Art of Unscheduled Connection

Sue on vacation

If your life is anything like mine, it runs on a schedule. And if your kids' lives are anything like most of the kids I know, their schedules may be busier than yours!

Work/school – hurried snack – practice (sports, plays, music) – feed dogs - homework – trips to buy $15 worth of stuff at Target for school project du jour – pick up from practice - oh, dinner?! – laundry – (do I have clean scrubs for work?) – endless email – dishes – organize life for next morning - fall into bed at 11:00pm or later – begin again.

Whew!

No wonder you're tired!

And vacation – whether it's staying home and not working, or going away and separating yourself from all of the above does, in fact, do something for you.

It reminds you what it's like to live an unscheduled life. It allows you to breathe. To think. To laugh. To ponder.

Last night after a 2 hour walk with my daughter that included conversations ranging from teachers to tidal pools, we all ate dinner together. Then for the next several hours, we played Pictionary (laughing hysterically at our lack or sketching talent), and then just sat and talked, told stories and laughed. This is how our time has been.

And what I know is that it's hard to make this kind of time and space in our lives.

And that we desperately need it.

This time away made it clear to me what makes each member of my little family unique. My son's humor, my daughter's sweetness, my husband's thoughtfulness.

And that I'm capable of sleeping for 8 hours in a row if given the chance.

Sometimes you don't plan a vacation, saying you don't have the time. Or that you'll do it next year. Sometimes you pretend it needs to involve lots of money when you know that vacation is more of a decision than a destination.

But you also understand you are a better person, therapist, and companion when you have unplugged, recharged and had the space to wander, wonder, and laugh so hard you can't breathe. You want to recall what it's like to want to get up and go into the NICU.

My father died when he was 63. He never got to enjoy 'retirement' as we think of it. I'm grateful for the vacations we did take -to have time to play games with my older siblings, make a Christmas tree out of an evergreen branch we found on the beach, and take turns making dinner for our massive crew.

Retire a little along the way.

Bring your favorite people and get lost in the land of unscheduled connection.

There's no magic place you're working so hard to get to. Life is happening now.

About Sue Ludwig

sue-ludwig-photo-greenPresident and Founder, Sue Ludwig is a practicing neonatal occupational therapist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. She is a sought after international speaker, consultant, writer and educator. Sue has published articles related to infant-driven feeding, oral feeding and the late preterm infant and quality analysis of developmental care, and served as guest editor for Newborn & Infant Nursing Reviews. She is also a published author and poet.

Sue is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and serves as their media expert in neonatal therapy. She is an ex-officio member of the Education Provider Committee for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

Sue lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

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