Sunday Tittle Tattle: My Non-Relaxing Relaxation List

things to do to relax

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am physically and mentally incapable of achieving a state of relaxation. When I thought I was going to have four weeks off over Christmas (it was actually two weeks, strictly speaking, but four weeks away from “making content” for the internet) I made a big list of all of the things that I was going to do to relax. Then I realised that none of them were relaxing.

As it turned out, I spent most of the “holidays” feeling rough and having the sort of cough that makes people quickly back away with their scarves pulled over their faces, so my Relaxation List, painstakingly written onto the back of a pet insurance pamphlet with a blue biro, hardly even saw the light of day.

But I did make a few half-hearted stabs at “relaxation”, so I thought I’d share the list with you. A normal person’s list might include items such as Take a Warm, Oil-Scented Bath, or Listen to Favourite Podcasts. Not mine. I seem to be some sort of activity junkie. Or perhaps I’m just someone who’s yearning for order in their life. Someone who wants to be able to find a lid for the mini food chopper, or even the jug part to the Nutribullet, so that she can BLEND THE BLOODY SAUCE. Someone who has a burning desire to fetch all of the towels from the shed (where they are still packed in their “temporary” bin bag storage solution), wash them, dry them and fold them into the linen cupboard, but who has no time.

This was my list of relaxing things that turned out not to be relaxing at all:

Come up with a plan for healthy meals that all of the family can enjoy. (Sounds like some kind of naff magazine advertorial, for a start, but looking through cookbooks and making lists of nutritious meals is hardly the same as lying with cucumber slices over your eyes, being massaged with baby oil by Tom Hardy. Not that I would find that relaxing! Good God. I’d be as alert as a rabbit in a cabbage patch!)

Unpack my clothes and organise the wardrobe with all of my most-worn things at the front and the things I don’t want at the back. I re-visited this item on the list and decided that anything I didn’t want should actually go to charity or – the pricier investments – eBayed. Now if anyone has ever sold anything on eBay they will know that it is not relaxing. Finding a jiffy bag is not relaxing. Scratching the old address label off with your fingernail and ruining your manicure is not relaxing. Hunting down a piece of blank paper, folding it in half to make a new address label and then trying to locate a permanent marker pen is not relaxing. Searching for the end of the sellotape so that you can stick your address label down is absolutely NOT RELAXING. And most unrelaxing of all has to be going to the post office and being told that the cost to post your parcel is eleven pounds, when you’d only bargained on it being three, and working out that your total profit for the whole blasted transaction is thirty-eight pence.

Learn to use an AGA. The smell of freshly-baked bread! The smell of sizzling bacon! Except that you can’t smell either of these things when you cook them in the AGA because the AGA is a sadistic culinary torture machine, designed to be one step up from a campfire in terms of convenience and one step down from a luxury yacht in terms of running costs. What lies within the AGA emits no smell that can penetrate the thick cast iron doors – the AGA holds its secrets like some sort of mystical wizard’s cauldron. No telltale whiff of burning, no sound of the fat on the tin foil sparking up and catching fire – the first you know of a cooking accident in an AGA is when you remember, four days later, that you put in a pan of sausages and they emerge as a pile of black dust. (For those who don’t know what an AGA is, the traditional version is a cooker that never turns off. If that sounds crazy and uneconomical then I can assure you you’re pretty much right. Though it does have a certain charm – I’m being facetious. I’ve actually grown to love the AGA over the five weeks I’ve been its owner, I just love moaning about it more.)

Find my shoes in amongst the packing boxes. I thought that hacking through eighty-five boxes of mixed goods (think unboxed light bulbs in with the welly boots, kids’ jeans in with dog leads and broken clocks) would be F.U.N. One box in and it’s not. I stabbed myself with the point of a model medieval soldier’s spear and found some mouldy banana festering in a Fisher Price backpack. I don’t want shoes. I’m fine with my one pair of trainers and my ridiculous blue moccasin slippers. Who needs more than one pair of shoes, anyway?

Explore my new neighbourhood. This one was a fine idea in principal. We would search out the best little places to have tea and cake, find the good pubs, ramble along the most picturesque bridleways and stride across romantic, windswept fields. And then I rounded the troops up to attempt sub-point one “search out the best places to have tea and cake” and it took 83 minutes to get out of the front door. Ted was cold, Angelica wanted to walk on her own up the cobbled street and tripped over every twelve seconds. The tea place was getting ready for dinner, had no tea, had no cake. We went home, where there was tea and there was cake.

I’m honestly quite envious of anyone with young children or babies who can so easily and (apparently) stressless-ly get out of the door to do nice things. How do you even have the energy? Instagram is flooded with these people and not only do they get to places, they do it with makeup on! How is this possible? I am going to make a renewed effort this year to do nice things and do them whilst wearing actual grown-up clothes (not leisurewear beneath a massive, all-hiding parka) and brushed hair and a spot of makeup. Since I moved to Somerset, I have never been “spotted” quite so many times. I must have a disproportionate number of followers who live in Somerset because I only need to poke a toe out of the front door and some lovely person tweets or messages me to say that they’ve seen me. Usually with some excellent local information or advice, which is so welcomed and very heart-warming, but it has made me think twice about going out with my usual child-scaring level of unkemptness…

Anyhow, normal service here on A Model Recommends will resume this week. If you’re remotely interested in family stuff then I’ve been writing (mostly about sleeplessness!) over on my baby blog, The Uphill. And if you had your own unrelaxing list of relaxing things to do over the Christmas holidays then please do share!

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.



  1. Kathryn Wright
    January 14, 2018 / 7:53 am

    Meal planning – definitely not relaxing, purely a money saving exercise. And my husband, who doesn’t cook, can’t understand what all the fuss is about
    Thank you for sharing with us your very ‘real’ life xx

  2. Anette
    January 14, 2018 / 8:30 am

    Thank you for this! I have big-ish children (boy aged 8 and girl turning 10 in two days (10! My God, what happened??), and they still wake up way too early in weekends and holidays. So I have introduced my 10 min coffee time every morning, where they somehow agrees to let me have my coffee (and uninevitably scrolling) in peace. This was my coffee companion this morning, absolutely perfect! This routine saves my sanity sometimes, I think. But of course, this was not an option when the were as small as yours, neither was leaving the house without being sweaty, stressed out and exhausted. The years fly by so quickly, I have loads of photos, so I KNOW we actually did stuff. Sometimes even with make up on. But I hardly remember some of it, so I guess I was not very mentally present all the time. You just DO, no time or energy for thinking or feeling, I guess. But it gets better, much better, as they grow! And now, as I enjoy my morning coffee, I am so happy that we have two children so close in age, they entertain themselves more and more, and the battle from the first years somehow seem to disappear. Rambling on. Anyway. Just wanted to say, it will get better, hang in there, don’t put more pressure on your self, surviving and keeping the little ones happy, fed and alive is more than enough! You are doing great!

  3. Cassandra
    January 14, 2018 / 9:43 am

    Thanks for my Sunday night (Aus time) giggle! Things will improve

  4. Kasia
    January 14, 2018 / 11:32 am

    I’m so happy you’re back! I missed your sense of humor and your writing!

    • Kasia
      January 25, 2018 / 6:35 pm

      Me too!

  5. wjs57
    January 14, 2018 / 12:29 pm

    I suspect that if I lived in Frome I would say hello just to be friendly and then think how amazing you look without makeup so I wouldn’t worry if I were you. I would also read India Knight’s piece in the Times today about moving to the country and into comfortable clothes…she suggests that it is a phase that people eventually grow out of .

    IF you are concerned about make-up you could always watch Hannah Martin’s under five minutes makeup-she says it’s for new mothers but I am a long way from being that and am sorely tempted to adopt her approach-I am just at an age where I need the makeup but am bored by it.

  6. January 14, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    I didn’t make a list. I just decided on a whim that I wanted to rearrange the office space (just a little) and when I pulled my desk from the wall I realized that the whole wall (it is in the basement of a 1910 build villa) had mould.
    So I need to get everything out, treat the mould, repaint and the rearrange, which I basically just finished in time to get back to work.
    Relaxation time indeed!

  7. Lindsey Amtmann
    January 14, 2018 / 5:54 pm

    Ruth, please don’t stress yourself out more by feeling compelled to get dressed for “on duty” in Somerset every time you walk out the door! I don’t live there, but I believe
    that your followers completely, utterly understand that having 2 little kids means that leisurewear and a parka are pretty much required at this stage of life. Plus: what you wear in your private life is your own business, kids or not. I’d have gone bonkers if I’d felt the need to dress “on duty” when my daughter was that young. Live your life!

  8. Caitlin
    January 14, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    I cannot imagine you ever looking unkempt! The picture of you at the top of this post is so beautiful.
    As ever, loved this post. You are a very very funny writer.

  9. Roxana
    January 14, 2018 / 8:36 pm

    Ruth, what’s your Ebay ID?

  10. Laura
    January 14, 2018 / 10:05 pm

    Hi Ruth, I really feel for you on the sleep deprivation and not relaxing front. I always hated advice when I was going through it with my two. But I’d really like to recommend a book called Self-Reg by Dr Stuart Stanker- gets to the bottom of the riddle of why behaviour modification doesn’t work well. It’s About spotting stressors and removing them… Anyway, enough evangelising. Good luck! X

  11. January 14, 2018 / 10:23 pm

    Oh gosh, I so know the feeling of only making a few pennies’ profit on an item I’ve sold but undestimating the postage. How annoying!!!!!!!!!! This is why I’m keeping a lot of books and clothes for the spring carboot sales as it will be real profit. No postage. Just the ‘parking spot’, £15 or something like that. Mine won’t be in Somerset, ah ah! Bisous.

  12. Anna
    January 14, 2018 / 10:28 pm

    Hi Ruth, happy New Year. I’m sure you’ve discovered Marry Berry’s AGA cook books already but if not I wholly recommend them. Anna

  13. Vicky
    January 15, 2018 / 9:46 am

    Shortly before my complete and utter burn out circa 2014 a friend asked me what I did to relax and I came up with ‘rock climbing’ without a trace of a joke. She actually had to talk this out with me to get me to realise that rock climbing is not an adrenal soothing activity. Fair point.

  14. Eilis Coughlan
    January 15, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    The ongoing struggles of AGA life have me in tears! Nice to have you back, I’ve definitely suffered from the absence of your wit and humour. Things are a bit more bleak when there’s no one to point out the absurdity in it all! To unrelaxingly relax I’ve been watching The Fall which is absolutely brilliant but also very distressing. Jamie Doran is a psychotic killer, but he has a tender side and I’ve always thought him a beautiful man. Anyways, love for Doran aside, hoping this year goes well and looking forward to more content!

  15. Lisa Botwright
    January 15, 2018 / 2:09 pm

    Hi Ruth – have you bought your bake-o-glides?! ( These will change your life if you’re an AGA owner!! You can bake/grill things on your AGA top, such as fish and vegetables. The best is AGA eggs, which look like fried eggs, but take no time at all to cook and have the calories of poached eggs as you’re adding zero fat/calories.

    • January 16, 2018 / 2:59 pm

      OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! OK, I need to get myself to one of those demo sessions at the AGA store!

  16. Stella
    January 15, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    You have a great sense of humor & that helps take care of a lot of life’s b.s. Thanks for the laughs. Just live your life! Why should you care about stranger’s? Yes, I know you have an online presence, but that shouldn’t dictate how you live your actual life. Do what makes you happy & what works for your family & you!

  17. evie p
    January 16, 2018 / 12:40 am

    Froman holiday ;-)
    Love your sweater: where is it from?

  18. January 17, 2018 / 2:27 am

    These are such great tips- I never thought about exploring my own town! That is definitely something I have to try in the near future. It would so be fun to play tourist-for-a-day!

  19. Anlbe
    January 17, 2018 / 3:15 am

    I get out the door easily by having very very low standards and having a pre packed nappy bag :-)
    Yeah, agas, just discovered some mince pies that were popped in the warming oven on Boxing Day…..

  20. January 17, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Hi Ruth
    You are not alone in your battle to leave the house, add a battle at bath time and I’m right there with you. Our daughter is 3, although it is a lot better than it was to get out of the house, except for the bath time which is a new development!

  21. Lowri
    January 19, 2018 / 6:49 pm

    It’s always so refreshing when you write, I appreciate the realness of your narrative. Thank you! I wanted to ask when you did your Instagram story in this jumper a week or so ago, which foundation you’re wearing (and also wearing here?). Your skin looked great on Insta!

  22. Margy Slater
    February 4, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    Want to apologize. I’ve been watching you for years but I’d never read your blog until today. It’s absolutely fantastic! I’m now binge watching, whilst my husband it looking at me hopefully, yet a little concerned, as there is no sign at all of Sunday dinner.

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