Many of my summers would begin with this vision of what was in store for me and my kids…
Ah, Summer time. No more waking up and rushing out the door while scrambling to be sure all the shoes were on and back packs were ready to go. We would be sleeping in, waking when we want to, enjoying long lazy days of going to the pool, the beach or just running through the sprinklers. The day would wind down as we relished in late afternoon, eating popsicles under the shade trees…
Sometimes our summers would actually start out just like that. Everyone would be happy, getting along and looking forward to the long stretch of freedom ahead of us. Oh, ALL the things we would be able to do! It was bliss.
Then reality would strike and what we would end up experiencing would look more like, too much together time, which ramped up those frequent “little annoyances” which lead to (many) sibling squabbles. Complaints of being too hot or the dreaded “I’m bored”! And can we just talk about how hungry everyone was all the time? I mean, I KNOW my kids didn’t eat that much during the school year! Am I right? Anyone else?
I would be exhausted and completely drained having little energy for anything else I might have wanted to do.
We spend so much time taking care of our children, and most likely other people in our lives, who is taking care of us? We need to take care of us. In other words, YOU need to take care of YOU.
But, who has time for that, you ask?
There is something I like to say and I say it often, to myself and to the parents I work with
Little things mean more than you know.
While luxurious spa days or long stretches of quiet time reading our favorite book would be amazing on the regular, it is indeed hard to do with littles, never mind, with littles at home for the summer.
Doing little things throughout your days really does make a big difference. That being said, here are 3 things that you can do, in ten minutes or less, to help keep your energy up when you’re feeling overwhelmed, exasperated or just plain worn out.
1) Give yourself permission to do the minimum that needs to be done.
Yes, I really did say that. The MINIMUM. What do I mean by that?
You most likely have long list of things that need or would like to get done. What’s the minimum you can do right now? Aside from feeding your children and making sure they make it through the day, what is the least amount of “to do’s” on that list that can be done?
Start by looking at the list in front of you. (I’m assuming you have made a list. If you haven’t, and it’s running around in your head, maybe make one. It would help to get it out of your head and on paper to start. Then you can do this next step)
Identify 5 that are the most important to you. What you would like to get done.
Pick the top 3 things that get must get done.
Give yourself permission to get just 1 of those things completed.
Need to go to the store because there’s no food in the house for dinner, except for the last box of mac and cheese? Feed them mac and cheese. But they had that for dinner last night? Great! It’s a double treat. Mac and cheese for dinner. Really feel you can’t do that? Order out. ASK yourself, Is this a like or a must situation? Sure, I’d like to go to the store to get some healthier food for tonight for my kids to eat. It would make me feel better as a parent, for one. Is it a must, though? What would happen if I don’t go to the store right now with tired littles and exhausted me?
We often have the sense that everything on our to do list MUST get done. But do they really? Or is it our own expectation and pressure we are putting on ourselves? Give yourself the permission to do the minimum. It’ll give you space to slow down and catch your breath and maybe enjoy the moment you’re in.
2) Restore your energy
Here are two suggestions to try:
Stretch and Move
Wait. I’m moving ALL DAY LONG, trekking my kids around, doing all that needs to be done. I just want to chill!
Theres’ a difference between running from here to there, making lunches, getting kids to and from camps, the beach or the pool, changed and ready for nap or bed time and the intentional, deliberate movement of our bodies that allow us to feel relaxed, healthy and energized.
When you’re exhausted, it can be so tempting to just sit in front of the TV or scroll through IG and/or FB or that all too perfect Pinterest. But, if we’re going to be honest, that usually just makes us feel more tired, and maybe even go down the rabbit hole of comparison because, clearly, everyone else has it together way more than we do and their bathrooms look amazing and clean.
Instead of sitting down and scrolling to recharge, try getting up and moving around. Do some sit ups, leg lunges, side bends. Whatever floats your boat. If you have to sit, you can sit on the floor, or even lay on the floor, and stretch your arms, legs, your torso. Even just 10 minutes of doing this can help you feel recharged and energized.
Keeping a journal is a great way to help reduce stress by expressing your feelings. It can really help to move these thoughts from your head onto paper. Much like the list I mentioned above. Start by trying to write for at least five minutes a day. This can be done at any part of the day. Kids playing in the yard? Take a moment to sit in the shade and jot a few things down. Kids having a snack? Use this opportunity to check in with yourself and write down what comes up. Doing this can help you sort through any problems or feelings your are currently experiencing, allowing you to move through the rest of the day in a more calm and peaceful way.
3) Really at a loss? Overwhelmed and even #1 and #2 are a stretch for you?
Follow these steps:
Stop whatever you’re doing. Just stop.
Close your eyes (well, not if you’re driving. And if you are, hopefully you’ve done #1)
Breathe. Take a deep breath in for 3. Hold for 3. Exhale for 3. Repeat 3-4x
Open your eyes
What can you appreciate right here, right now in front of you? Use all your senses.
What do you see? Maybe it’s the sun shining through the window onto the wall
What do you hear? Maybe it’s the birds outside or the kid’s chatter about how good the mac and cheese dinner is…
What do you taste? Maybe it’s the coolness of the ice tea you’re drinking…
What do you smell? Maybe it’s the fresh cut grass….
What do you feel? Maybe it’s the breeze in the air…
I heard something the other day, and I loved it. I’ll paraphrase…
Today may not be turning out to be a good day, but you can always find something good within your day.
What are you focusing on? What are the little things around that can bring so much joy into your day and even the moment you are in?