Obviously we love them, those kids of ours. Obviously. They are our whole world. Each and every single day they make our hearts melt. They also are our whole world. Many days they make our hearts break. Often our hearts melt and break several times within the same day.
Recently Jordan and I were chatting about how we feel like things are slowly becoming... (ok long pause, deep breath... always say anything positive with hesitation to avoid Murphy and his damn law) "easier"... (*waits for other shoe to drop). We are through the newborn and infant stage. We have dealt with some tough issues, binkies, sleep training, weening. We can see the end of diapers, and we are hopeful that soon enough we will have finished with bottles. However, as one phase ends, we quickly learn that the next has its fair share of issues too, like tantrums, the ever popular nap struggles, and wild, unimaginable messes whenever you turn your back... for 1 second.
I find that through the Pacific Northwest Winter, especially, remaining positive through all of these phases can become trying. So I started looking at easy ways that I could help myself sustain some positive high energy that would also benefit the family. Here's what I came up with and what I find myself working on and (mostly/sometimes) winning at:
1. Ditch the negative. Wherever you are getting a negative feed, cut it out. Unfriend, unfollow, turn off, tell the voice inside to shut up whenever he/she cuts you down. Without negative feedback we can focus on a happier, more productive life. Someone once told me "God only gives you what you can handle", this has in a way become a mantra in my most difficult moments, my version of "This too shall pass" and "You got this".
2. Talk to another adult. I am an ambivert, as such, I don't always feel like reaching out to others. Adult conversations remind us that there is a whole world out there and we are still very much a part of it. Even if you're chatting with the barista, you're connecting to more than the tribulations of this morning's tantrums.
3. Plan to have fun. We went a full year without a "family vacation" (in quotes because we did a bit of travel with extended family), so when it came time to plan our trip to Scottsdale this Spring, it was such an amazing exercise in reprieve. Seeking out restaurants, looking at pool pictures at the hotel, family adventure opportunities, all of it was a great mental break. Now to start planning our next adventure...
4. Help Others. My daughter's pre-school reminded me of this as they are often collecting blankets, or toys, or making cards en masse for an under supported group of others. While life is busy, whenever possible we are trying to bake, or donate, or visit with extended family and elderly friends. We still don't do it often enough, but when we do, we feel more complete.
5. Do More. What?! I already do everything?! - I know you do. My problem was that it became my mantra, my own negative noise. "I do everything. I do everything. I do everything." Lie. In actuality, I have one of the most useful, thoughtful, hands on husbands on the planet (so I guess that makes him the most under appreciated - bad Mama). Once I turned off my own negative noise, I realized how productive I could be. It turns out my most productive days are some of my happiest.
6. Challenge Yourself in a New Way. Try a new exercise class, sign up for a community run, learn a new language, try an art night, immerse yourself in something that requires your focus, even if it's just for a short period of time a few times a week. Lately I've been going back and forth between the South Surrey 30-minute hit and Nourish Yoga in Whiterock. I love the peace that yoga provides even a newbie like me and the release that I could only get by punching something for 30 minutes. Lol!
7. Self Forgiveness. Just like number 1... stop it. Let's all just stop with the parent guilt already. Your kids love and adore you, so stop beating up their favourite person and just go in for a cuddle instead. That's either enough said, or a whole series of posts.
8. Love. Oh yeah. We're so busy parenting that we forgot that we actually love each other on a much, much deeper level. That's true right? Our cure has been planning date nights in and out of the house. We try to go out once a month, even if it's just for lunch or a mid-afternoon saunter between naps. We also plan to unplug from our phones on Fridays and often acquire a decadent snack to accompany a delicious a bottle of wine. It's home, but we commit to making sure it's all about us.
9. Buy Yourself Something. Sometimes, you just have to find a way to give yourself some kudos and prioritize a little special something for you. I recently bought an authentic print edition of Baffin Island by Lawren Harris (at HomeSense!). I love it. I LOVE it. Everytime I pass it, I think about how it brightens the space, fits perfectly, and really ties the hall to the living room. You can purchase a limited amount of happiness.
10. Be Grateful. Life is chaos as a new parent. Super cray cray actually. It's chaotic for not so new parents too. Even on our toughest days though, the brutal ones, at the end of it, it's easy to remember the gift of it all. I mean, consider all of the miracles it took to get here. We are all managing, better, we are all doing great. If we could just accept that the love and attention that we do give our children is enough. It is. Once we accept this, we will recognize that this blissful ruckus is what it's all about.
Wishing you loads and loads of blissful ruckus. xo