We've all had days when we don't feel like our "best self." But what's in place for you when things are going as best they can as a parent? For me, it's connection, movement, creativity, and nature that keep me grounded, productive, and happy. If you need to reset, here are six things to change up that just may make the difference.
- Connect authentically with your kids, early in the day. Kids have such a natural joy for life that is so infectious. Spending as little as 5 minutes before the morning rush will allow that joy to rub off on you and be a touch-point for the rest of your day. Plus, kids need that connection. Experiencing it early in the day will help improve their day too (which is, frankly, better for everyone!) So stay in bed and read them a couple of books or get down on the floor and play. Even for just a few minutes really helps.
- Get moving early in the day. Whether it is a run, a bit of yoga, or just walking the dog, I start my day feeling better when I move my body early. I listen to my head and body to see what intensity of movement I need. Anxious or stressed? A run or something that gets my blood flowing is the best way to work through that stress. Tired or sore? A walk or some yoga will gently invigorate me.
- Make something every day. I’ve made creativity central to my “day job,” but all too often we feel that if we aren’t good enough at something to make it our life’s focus then it isn’t worth pursuing. I disagree wholeheartedly: hobbies are important! They give our brains space to operate differently. And in a world with long-term projects, seeing something finished and accomplished has tremendous value. One year, I took an online gouache pattern design course, and it was one of the most joyful uses of time. I looked forward to it every day. While my art will likely never be in a gallery, it makes me happy and that happiness radiates out in my life.
- Go outside. As a dog owner, I have an excuse to go out into nature frequently. Watching the seasons change, getting to see and know my neighbors, and just being present in the world brings me so much joy. But it is easy to do this and just roll through it, checking one thing quickly off a a mile long to-do list. I try to slow it down and take advantage of this time to see the small things that fill me with wonder and joy. If I’m having trouble doing that on my own, I listen to a meditation that I can do while I walk to foster that connection.
- Lay hands. One of my dearest friends used to be a massage therapist. I remember her once telling me about the immense responsibility of that role: “You don’t know if that person has experienced touch that day. And it is so rare to experience touch without intention.” This acknowledgement of the power of touch as stayed with me. It is so important to give and receive touch frequently, daily if possible (I’m talking about non-sexual, consensual touch.) Take time to give someone a solid hug, long enough that you can take a deep breath or two. It will help you feel so good!
- Breathe. When was the last time you took a deep breath? Yes, meditation is all the rage, but for all of the health and well-being crazes you may read about, this one really is backed by science (as well as thousands of years of experience by millions of people). Meditation can lower stress levels when you are in a difficult situation, and even when things are going great it can help build resilience for difficult times. So even if long meditation sessions aren’t your thing (yet), finding a time to really breathe and pay attention to your body and surroundings will have a profound effect. If you are new to meditation, I highly recommend apps like Headspace that offer both guided meditations and education on how to meditate (even people with busy minds that they “can’t shut down” can do it!)