A few weeks back, my husband and I attended a health seminar on managing energy. There are so many blog posts waiting to be written about it, but I’ve enjoyed applying some of the practicals to my life as a mother right now. (As I’m writing, my youngest, who is supposed to be napping, is wailing “Daddyyyyyyy!” Oh the irony. Be right back…:)
I am so grateful to be a stay at home mom. There’s really nothing I’d rather be doing at this stage of my life. My husband invests so much in our children (and me) especially when he’s off work. A rare gift!
Still, any caretaker can tell you, being responsible for someone else day and night after day and night can be exhausting. And since I’m someone who is refreshed by alone time, reflection and quiet, using my energy creatively in motherhood is nothing short of a challenge. I know I’m not the only one here! So here are some “techniques” (ooh, fancy, huh?) I’m learning to employ, partly thanks to this health seminar:
~Engage in ways that are meaningful for everyone. Directing essentials like meals, preschool, errands, bedtimes, etc. has to happen because, well….they’re essential. Day trips, elaborate crafts, heck, sometimes even making it out the door, are not easy things we do often. And I’m just not a natural playtime director.
Naturally, my children initiate interaction with me (ahem. Demand my attention) throughout the day. Our current favorites are playing with Legos, looking for a often-lost, dirty little feather that is made into a fishing pole, and listening to the gazillionth description of shrimps and scorpions. Many times I can say “yes” to these things because they are opportunities to show my children that their world is important to me (even if I’m really just aching for a bit of silence and/or I’m juggling the other child’s needs when the other request, er, demand, comes up).
But. If I don’t jump in from time to time and initiate my own activity with them, the seemingly constant, minute demands can drive me into coasting with my kids. When I coast, I’m not really engaging in stress or recovery; I’m kinda flat-lining it. (More on that below.)
So these activities I do direct are pretty simple: reading a favorite story, starting a tickle fight, or taking a last minute trip to the park. Now I’m choosing to be fully engaged with my kids instead of just coasting. My kids play independently fairly well, and I think that’s important; but when I’m engaging with them, I want to be all there.
~Recover to Return. I need to seek refreshment, then jump back in. One of the most reoccurring themes of the health seminar was that life, and especially work, is a series of stresses. Stress can be a good thing, but recovery is that other half; we need both sides of the coin.
So, I’m off on my 10 day solo cruise!
Ha. Not really. That doesn’t even sound fun to me! A day off now and then does, but since that’s not often realistic, I’ve had to figure out something more attainable.
Recovery has come to be a fancy term for things like taking a deep breath, breathing a prayer for patience, or sitting outside in the sun for 5 minutes. Sometimes it’s getting the kids in the bathtub and then washing a load of dishes before helping them bathe. (Ha! Never thought I’d use washing dishes as recovery…oh the times, they are a-changin’.) (And yes, in case you’re wondering, I can hear my kids from the kitchen loud and clear.)
One of my all-time favorite recovery activities is writing. Writing allows me to explore, to categorize, and to create. Because writing is a spiritual exercise, I have to feed my soul or I have nothing to spill. It is a little parable of life: after writing, I am able to pour into those around me, because I have been with the One who is the source of all Beauty and Substance.