I grew up in Australia and we always had a morning tea break. For me there was nothing nicer than a steaming cup of tea and some kind of pastry treat. It didn’t matter how hot the temperature was outside, breaking for tea was refreshing. You’d even see work crews at the roadside taking a break, pouring their hot drink from a thermos, but they called their break smoko. ; ) There are of course many poems and ballads that include our traditional morning tea: Waltzing Matilda even speaks of waiting and watching as the billy boiled. The billy was the tin can that heated the water over an open fire.
Anyway, morning tea is a habit I’ve gotten out of since living in the U.S. Our lives have become so busy that many times the mid-morning break is not taken at all. Or it’s a cup of coffee taken at the desk while we continue to work. Because I work from home, I’m out of touch with what goes on in the workplace today. How is it where you work? Does it seem like an indulgence to break for fifteen minutes?
When I was young (back before the wheel, or so my kids tell me) morning tea was taken no matter where you worked; a lovely tradition and a necessary one in the hurried workplace. Fifteen minutes to hang out in the break room, talk with co-workers, refresh relationships, and replenish the body’s need for sustenance and energy. And that could come in the form of a scone, a slice of date and walnut loaf smothered with butter, a vanilla slice (my personal favorite) or just a plain old store bought bickie. A bickie is of course a biscuit but not like a Southern biscuit, it is a cookie to you Americans. : )
I thought about all of this last week when I heard myself complaining to a friend about my lower back and how much time I spent in the office chair. Sure I drink water so that I’m forced to get up and walk down the hall to the loo. And I put in a load of wash and get up when the buzzer goes off for the third time, but it isn’t the same. I’m not taking care of my true needs.
So, I’m re-instituting the full lunch break and morning and afternoon tea breaks into my work day. If mine was a salaried position, my employer would by law be required to provide breaks. I’m self-employed. It’s up to me to take care of my best employee.