I know being tired is part of being a parent, but gosh did I really sign up for THIS??? Honestly, I'm tired. That sentence was humbling. It is hard to admit this but I don't want to do anything but sleep. I’m in school, I work full time, I try to make sure my kids have memorable life experiences (which takes time and effort), and then there’s the household tasks that I’m quite certain I’m failing at. I thought about it and with everything I'm trying to accomplish I feel like I’ve stolen two or three people's lives and replaced them with my own.
I got to thinking… “Am I just sad and depressed?”. I thought deeply about this and asked myself if I was mistaking my exhaustion for sadness and depression. After much internal reflection, I’ve decided that I'm not. In fact, I'm actually happier than I've been in a very long time. I find joy in the things I'm doing; I'm enjoying my kids and I am living with a sense of purpose. I wake up excited to live, I just don’t have the energy to execute my joy-plan well.
- Reflection is a good way to decipher the important stuff from the unimportant stuff. BUT... Dwelling on these emotions for too long can lead to depression. It's important to keep it in perspective. Think about what you can do better next time but don’t beat yourself up. Are the kids ok? Are they smiling? If you gave yourself a grade and you still got a B-, you’re doing better than a lot of people. If you want to take it further, globally you’re problems are dreams for some people. Be thankful for your life as you try to make it better.
- Have friends. Friends keep us honest and help us laugh and cry. No man is an island and in this age of the introvert, loner weird kid (who does live in me as well), it's dangerous to believe that we should not seek out interactions with others. You can set limits on what you want from these friendships but friendships are great opportunities to let you know that you're not alone- everyone is struggling. And if you're friends are "perfect" parents... Get new friends 'cause the ones you have are liars.
- Take care. You gotta go to the doctor, the dentist, drink water, eat well and get some sort of exercise. If you don't you'll die. And even if you don't drop dead, eventually it'll catch up to you. Less coffee more green smoothies; less sugar more exercise; less pastry more quality protein. The more you ask of your body, the more you got to take care.
- Take a time out! Pray, meditate or just close yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes. There may be small opportunities you don’t realize in your daily routine that are ripe for a time out. I, for one, can’t shut off my mind, meditation is only a time where I think about the things I need to think about. It left me frustrated and anxious so I shied away from breaks and mental pauses all together. So now, I play simple mobile video games for 5 minutes or so. Beyond the distraction, the rhythmic monotony of swiping a screen is soothing. After about 5 or 10 minutes I feel ready to face the beautiful disaster again; put me back in the game coach!
- To-do or not to-do, that is the question. If you need the ordered to do list for mental, emotional or even physical clarity… then make a list. But don’t become a slave to executing every task. You only have 24 hours in a day. Life is more enjoyable when we take control of our emotions and experiences rather than tasks and uncontrollable variables. It’s good to plan, I’m an extreme planner, but I’ve matured to a place where if it doesn’t get done I’m not angry. If I’ve already accomplished a lot and one task is left over, I just have to let it go. If I’m blessed with tomorrow (which I anticipate is a high probability), well then tomorrow that task comes first- if possible.
That's basically it. Sleep may not be an option all the time and neither might a trip to the spa but a few tweaks here-and-there can lessen the feeling of insane twirling into the infinite abyss of parenting. Loving your kids does not mean that you destroy yourself for them. That only leaves your anxious, stressed and bitter. It’s all relative and I know that I won’t be tired forever. With each phase the kids enter, I wake up less exhausted and that is definitely reassuring.