Parenting feels like a teeter totter some days, but most days, more like a roller coaster. We strive to make that teeter totter smooth and balanced, but in reality we know it’s more like a roller coaster with a wild ride of highs, lows, twists, and turns felt with different emotions by each individual experiencing the ride.
Each of us has our sources of inspiration that we seek so that we can have clarity and ideas for how to be the best we can as parents. One subject that continues to be contemplated is the idea of life balance.
I have had the privilege of experiencing some very inspirational presentations and conversations with colleagues, family, fellow community members, friends, and subject matter experts over the years in my career in fitness and wellness.
Some common themes continue to arise in this arena of life balance. (For example: Is life balance even POSSIBLE?) While this article is not going to answer that particular question, I would like to share three common themes that can help us feel more balanced as parents.
Before I get into those themes, I have a question for you. Where do you go in order to gain inspiration? Think about that for a moment, and write down your top three to five sources of inspiration in your life. And while you’re at it, write down these three common themes that can help parents to live a more balanced life:
1. Great things are done by a series of small things. Often we get caught up in trying to make ourselves look, live or be like other people. “I want a body like hers.” “I wish I had as much money as him so I could afford xyz.” “Wow, you have the best job in the world…it must be nice!” “I wish I had free time like you to be able to take time for myself, but I am just too busy.” Sound familiar?
The truth is that your life is YOUR life, and nobody else ever has or ever will follow the same path as you. At church one day, my pastor said, “Don’t envy someone else’s season they are in; embrace your own season.” If you want your life to be different, then do the work to create that image in your mind of what you want for your life.
But don’t get too stuck on that image because sometimes that seems too far away or too overwhelming. Instead, start small RIGHT NOW with one small thing. Great things are done by a series of small things done consistently over time. Celebrate each time you achieve your small goals. This creates positivity in your body, mind and spirit which will in turn make you more likely to continue to be successful.
2. Be where your feet are. My college roommate, Stephanie began her career as an elementary teacher, and she also discovered a love for yoga as one of her favorite sources of self-care. She found a way to combine her two passions into a beautiful purpose by going through a training on how to incorporate yoga and mindfulness techniques into the culture of her classroom. This transformed her life as a parent and her career path as she started working for the company that provided her mindfulness curriculum in the classroom and now shares effective ideas for helping students become more calm, confident, focused and present.
I found this transformation so inspiring that a few years ago, I had her students come into the hospital where I worked to see if they could influence a room full of adults into taking time to just breath, stretch and find ways to create calm in an often chaotic environment.
I was so impressed with how brave these children were. (It must have been all the deep breathing they did beforehand.) The adults in the room enjoyed the special treat of learning from five cute children who were so passionate about this idea of being more present and mindful. One of the children said, “Be where your feet are,” and that was such a powerful phrase to me! The yoga instructor part of me knows the importance of being more present while the mother-of-four part of me is distracted every 2 seconds it seems so keeping focused is incredibly challenging. If I can be where my feet are, I know that I am present and engaging in what matters most in that moment. I encourage you to do the same.
Part of being where your feet are, is knowing the season you are in. For example, you may be in the season of having very small children who don’t particularly sleep that well at night. While you’re in this season, sleeping in (if your kids are sleeping) is probably more important than getting up early for a workout. Or you may be in the season of bringing your very active children to all their activities so putting a healthy meal on the table and eating together as a family is not as common as you’d like. In this case, you may just be happy to find ways to find healthy to-go meals!
Please have grace for yourself in whatever season you are in and do the best you can with the circumstances in which you live. There are some things that you have been contemplating starting or stopping…listen to that intuition. Be where your feet are, and by following this simple guideline, you can take a sigh of relief knowing that some things that are “out of season” can and should be put on hold.
Oh and by the way, self-care is in season 24/7/365!
3. When you know your “why” your “what” has more impact.
Have you ever heard a comedian with depression give a one hour keynote speech? I did, and I liked it. It was different from the typical stand up comedy act, but I left with my stomach muscles having been worked from laughing and my heart bigger with compassion. If you have watched even a few different comedians, chances are one of them has depression but somehow, still is able to make people laugh. Did you know that nearly one in five Americans suffer from a mental-illness each year?
What I admired most about the speech is that rather than being stuck in the pain and unable to cope with his circumstances, this man has embraced his situation and made it his purpose to help others. He discovered his “why” in life and made comedy his “what.” It is inspiring for me to hear stories of people like this who have chosen to embrace what they have- the good, the bad, and the ugly- and find hope in knowing that the future is filled with goodness. Do you know your “why?” Keeping our heart beating to the rhythm of our “why” or our purpose can help keep us focused when we go out about our days filled with the “whats.”
When your life is starting to feel out of balance, think about whether or not you are living according to your why and what. Think about how you ultimately want to feel and how you want to help other people to feel.
Lastly, I will leave you with a helpful exercise sequence that can be a great way to reset your mind, body and spirit when you are feeling out of balance. Getting in touch with our bodies is an effective way to cleanse the mind and find clarity in your life. Join me here for five minutes to work on your body balance.
There you go! Hopefully you can be where your feet are and apply these three tips and themes into your life starting today!
P.S.- For those of you who are seeking a weekly source of motivation and inspiration, sign up for Motivation Monday.