I have wanted to expand on the focus of this website for quite some time. I would like us adults-the parents, caregivers, therapists, teachers, etc.-to feel awesome and in control! We need to be able to take care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally, in order to effectively take care of those amazing children entrusted to us. So, here is the first blog post solely devoted to that purpose.
This list has been 7-years in the making-a long process of trial and error, some definite fails, and a few delightfully simple “aha”/”woo-hoo!” moments that have slowly made life easier. At this point, I feel confident in its ability to provide me enough time to really feel as though I’m a person again (and if that’s not a testament to its efficacy, I don’t know what else is!) Not all steps may work for you-but even if one may help, then I’ve accomplished my mission in writing this post: in making your life just a tad easier.
1. Before Bed: I stop whatever I’m doing, and meditate. That’s right, I said meditate. I started out with some audio-based meditation tracks that I listened to with headphones on my phone. After a while, I felt as though I incorporated the messages from those meditation tracks and moved on to do my own version, ensuring that I was utilizing good, deep breathing. My love of meditation stems from the fact that its intent is to really focus on your own internal state, and check in, blocking out any external distractors. It is usually one of the calmest parts of my day.
2. Yoga: I began my personal daily yoga practice with 5 minutes based off of a free ipad app before I picked up my kids from the babysitter and bus. Now I do 10 minutes in the morning and at least 10 minutes after they go to bed. The movement, deep pressure, and breathing really help not only keep me calm while providing me an outlet for any excess energy or emotional baggage I may be experiencing, but again, it is a time dedicated solely to take time for reflection.
I 3. I try my best to cook and freeze as much as possible: Whenever I cook, when possible, I make food that is freezable, and either double or quadruple the recipe! This way, the amount that I have to cook on a daily basis is significantly diminished.
4. Figure out priorities in life: For me, I like my house to be clean, but does that mean that I have to cook, clean, and prepare extreme therapy activities for the next day? Nope! Nobody can do it all, least of all perfectly. It has taken me a while to realize that this is ok (and honestly, I have those days where I have to remind myself of that-why do you think I’m writing this blog? It’s as much for me as for you!) Take a moment and think of your priorities, and remember, not everything is a priority and it can’t all be done perfectly.
5. Delegate where you can: This kind of connects to the previous step. My kids help out around the house. No allowance, no chart, it’s just been an expectation we’ve had for them ever since they were small. They have put away their own laundry since they were around three years of age (you can check out an earlier blog post for details). When they help out, is it perfect? Absolutely not. Do I have to do a little fixing when they aren’t looking? Sure. But they are learning that as they are part of our family community, they have to contribute and help out.
6. My kids go to bed by 6 pm; if Shayna has a lot of homework, maybe 6:15. Seriously:
I am blessed to have a job where I am home with them by 4. They spend their mornings with their dad (since I have to run into work to get in super-early). I don’t know if this would be a solution for everybody, but for us, it works. Our weekends are full of family trips and activities (you will read more about that soon). So we make the most of the time we have together. Having them go to sleep early allows for me, someone who needs a good amount of sleep, to have ‘me-time’, along with cooking dinner, working, tidying up, and spending time with my husband, and still go to bed early!
7. Setting the alarm 24 minutes early to squeeze in coffee in bed and a 22 minute TV episode (yes, it has to be that exact!): Weighing the pros and cons between the extra 24 minutes of sleep or having that extra ‘me time’ (in addition to my 10 minute yoga practice before work) has been a game-changer in how I approach my day. This, in turn, affects my interactions with co-workers, clients, friends, and family. When I mean little moments, I mean little moments! And they can make all the difference.
8. Technology-free time: Sounds kind of funny after I just talked about watching television as a way to relax, no? Well, there have been naturally built-in times of our week where we just, well, put away our phones and tablets, and do things like game night, tea dates (don’t even ask), or just sit outside. The biggest life changer for me has been reading before bed (followed by either listening to meditation or doing my own meditation or mindfulness practice).
9. Do you know that a good portion of this article has been written on my very-long commute to and from work?
10. Letting others help: I am all about control. This section of my blog is about honesty, correct? Well, I guess I should let you know that I am probably one of the most controlling people you would ever meet. Difficult situations that have popped up in my life that have been beyond my control have been maddening (to put it mildly), but I am taking my own advice, practicing what I preach, and-breathing in the calm, and breathing out the stress. Surrendering control to others in certain situations, when necessary, has not only been required but has lightened the load physically and emotionally. It’s still taking me time to internalize this idea, but again, this post is for me too.