For the last few days, I’ve been having a little trouble with my motivation levels. Partly because of a new and completely-out-of-my-milieu work experience, and partly because of school starting so having to be the gung-ho let’s-be-super-excited-about-the-school-year mom role, and partly because the only person who caught the back-to-school cold (so far) is me.
What is it about this role, what is it about being the family cheerleader is not working for me right now? Why am I struggling to maintain my normally optimistic and upbeat attitude?
Sometimes, it’s good for us to take a step back and assess, you know? When I do that, I realize that it isn’t just me, it isn’t just this darn cold, and it isn’t that my kids are being extra needy. What I am doing is depleting my energy stores by giving so much to others that I am not refueling my own. There are a lot of things I am really good at, but prioritizing what I know to be my own needs (even when I do actually KNOW I need them) is not my greatest strength.
Try as I might, it isn’t always a matter of saying ‘no’ to the things I don’t actually want to do. As we all know, along with adulthood and parenthood, we also get tons of have-to’s that we HAVE to do. And try as we might, even if we manage to enable others to do these less-than-desirable tasks, we still don’t always have time for what we really DO want to be doing.
Reminders to myself:
Sometimes, we have to redefine what it is we want to do. Or, to be more accurate, how we can do what we want to do. I’ll give you a real life example: one of my favorite things to do is to swim. Really, any kind of swimming but I love swimming laps, too. Our current house has a pool but it would be a dizzying exercise to try to do any laps in it; driving to a pool big enough would either be log-jammed with traffic or expensive, or both. So, instead of swimming laps, I got a swim belt, and I swim for time. This can be sued in any size pool, as long as there is space for one to stretch out fully, and has a stationary object to which the belt can be attached. Voila! Problem solved and in my own backyard.
What about if we DID say ‘no’ more? When someone asks you to do something -- be it bake cookies for a bake sale, attend a meeting, or host a dinner party -- do it only if it works for you. I know, easier said than done. This skill -- saying no -- is actually not something that comes easily to most women, especially moms, as we are already accustomed to prioritizing the needs of others over our own (legitimately or not). Practice. It is important to remind ourselves: it isn’t always my responsibility; often, we feel compelled to say yes because we think no one else will step up. Consider carefully: what will be the recourse if it doesn’t happen? If no one else does it, and you actually say no, will it be the end of all things? Probably not. Say no when you want and need to.
Sometimes, it is as easy as saying ‘yes’ more. I know, I know. I just said the opposite; this is confusing, right? To clarify: I’m saying to say yes to you, to your own 'Me Time'. Ask yourself this: What refuels you? How do you recharge you energy? This is an important 'task' to which you should slate time every day. Do it first thing, and use pen to mark the time. Sure, sure, work and family tasks are important and deserve your time, effort, and attention, but if YOU don't prioritize you, who will? Get a hobby, fall in love with a sport, join a group, buy a book... Just do it. Remember this: if your family and your kids see you not prioritizing you, they will also not prioritize you.
Friends, we need to remember to take care of Me. Beyond making sure we have time to recharge, we need to take care with our own self: eat well, get regular exercise, deal with or remove stressors, stimulate the mind as well as the heart, and remember that there is no such thing as being too aged to learn a new thing. Don't get complacent. Your mind and your muscles are genetically designed to find homeostasis -- a state of just being -- and without regular change in tasking and stimulation, you can just maintain for ages. But why would you just be when, instead, you can grow and change and develop? Get stronger? Don't just be; rather, challenge yourself. Constantly look for what else you can try or do or learn.
Beyond growth, though, remember that it is our own responsibility to take care of our own body. This includes fueling it well with sound, nutritious choices. Sure, one can eat cake, but don't let that be the majority of what you put in. Keep your plate colorful (with naturally occurring hues), keep your food as pronounceable and with as little processing as possible, and try to stick with things that Ma Nature grows rather than that what factories have churned out. You get out of your body what you put in.
Be true to yourself. This can apply to so many different circumstances. Be honest: did you buy the big bags of chips for you or for the kids? Do you get mad at yourself for finishing the ice cream? Are the goldfish crackers your weakness? Then why do you have these things in the house? Making wise decisions for yourself that so you can keep making smart choices later on. Same goes for exercising, for the people you surround yourself with, the activities you choose to do, and the way you choose to spend your time. If you make decisions regularly that make you regret the consequences, it seems like an easy fix might be to nix the first step in the wrong decision so you don’t have to rue the day later. Ruing takes a lot of energy. Use this negative energy elsewhere.
You can’t escape all of the things you HAVE to do; sadly, there is many a task that is a must-do. But those that you can change, or simplify? Why not? Make time for the things you love to do, and that refuel you. It’ll make getting through the have-tos that much more enjoyable when there’s a get-to on the other side.