I was exhausted. Everyone had been going on high speed. Lots of emotional issues had been coming up for each of us. Throw in some financial concerns, end of the school year for three family members, traveling across the country for my brother's (really fun and amazing) wedding, along with my book release, and it was a way past time for a little break.
Sound familiar to you?
Maybe you've been running on empty for a long time. Just making due, getting by, surviving, but not thriving. It's hard to catch your footing on a slippery surface. So how can you start to make a shift for yourself? Move more toward thriving and away from simply surviving?
Many of the families I've worked with ask this question.
They say they want more joy in their lives. But they're not sure how to even start. They just know that things aren't as much fun as they'd like them to be.
Not that we all don't have bad days. Or days that are less "fun" than others. That's all part of life.
Interestingly enough, I've found that recharging our parent batteries is absolutely essential to moving toward joy.
It isn't rocket science, but when you're exhausted, cranky, and have been giving and giving (for sometimes years) without much of a break to recharge your own batteries, you can't really be in a place of joy. In fact, you are setting yourself up to be unable to meet the needs of anyone else if you don't meet your own needs.
What feeds you? What gets you excited? If you had two hours to do whatever you wanted, what would it be?
This past week, I took a "mom-cation." I kept thinking about a line from Ferris Bueller in the 1990 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "I highly recommend one if you have the means." With my boys off on a (very primitive) camping adventure in the mountains, I had the house to myself for a little over a week. And I must say, it was fabulous.
Of course, I missed my boys.
But I was able to spend an entire week doing what I wanted to do (along with working, which, luckily, I wanted to do). I confess that I slept a lot the first few days. And it was glorious. Who knew I was so tired. (I shared that with a friend with a grown son who has been living away from home for 5 years now and she said she thinks she's still catching up on her lost sleep from parenting! Maybe it isn't so unusual...)
So what did I do with my time, you may ask? Well...
I talked on the phone to my friends (with no one interrupting because they needed something, like food).
I met friends for lunch (with no regard for time).
I met friends for dinner (with no regard for bedtime).
I met friends in the train, in the rain, in a tree... wait, that's Dr. Seuss...
I went to yoga (ahhhh).
I started learning to play the guitar (cool, huh?). Again. (I might just get it this time around!)
I sang and sang and sang. (I LOVE to sing.)
I got a (totally and completely fabulous) massage.
I slept some more. (I was really tired!)
I took naps when it rained. And when it didn't.
I went for a walk in the rain. (And sang lots of rain songs as the water dripped down from my hair into my face. Total awesomeness.)
I wrote a song (not quite done, but close).
I wrote and wrote and wrote. (I love to write.)
I colored with colored pencils. (Why not?!)
I had a mom's night in. (And they left food, so I didn't have to cook the rest of the week! But someone left donuts. And I ate them all. It was GREAT! No shame.)
I cooked dinner for a friend. (This friend has a little one and doesn't often have food prepared for her, served with wine and good conversation. It was heaven for us both.)
I wandered around an antique store with a friend. (Who knew that could be so fun?!)
I played the piano. (Loudly and at midnight.)
I sang some more. (Also loudly. And at the end, in public at church. I was invited, just to be clear.)
In short, I did things that nurtured my soul.
I think that I put all the things I'd been really wanting to do all in one week.
But I think the best plan is to figure out what nurtures and have a mom-cation every day, even if it is just for a short time.
Of course, I'd highly recommend (the longer version) if you have the means.
Maybe it is two hours now if you're parenting a little one, but go for a run or to a yoga class if that nurtures you.
There are a million reasons not to do it, but a couple of really good ones to make the effort. There's your own mental health. And then there are the little eyes staring up at you on a regular basis. They do better when their mom/dad/caregiver is doing better.
So go out there and have your own "mom-cation" or "dad-cation" and tell me about it. Was it for an hour? Was it for a day? What did you do? How did you celebrate YOU?
When you're feeling good, it will be reflected in your kids. And when you're feeling less good, well, you can probably guess what happens.
Mine come home in a few minutes. I'll let you know how it goes. And you do the same, OK?
Rebecca Thompson is the author of Consciously Parenting: What It Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families, the first of four books in the Consciously Parenting series. Chapter 9 is all about nurturing yourself and finding your community.
Check it out!