If you are like most parents (or people in general), this may be an ongoing thought or concern. Why does it feel as though most of our days fly by with very little feeling of accomplishment? There can be several reasons for this: lack of routine, lack of self-care, unrealistic expectations, and of course those pesky thoughts (worries).
As explored in my previous blog about creating routines for your school-aged child(ren), structure and routine for yourself is just as important. Remember when I mentioned that scheduling time for breaks, leisure, and self-care would do wonders for your child? The same goes for you. Just because we’re the “grown-ups” and are responsible for managing the ins and outs of our household, doesn’t mean that we aren’t human with basic human emotions and needs. If our needs go unmet and we’re running on fumes, the entire family feels it and acclimates to it. I’m sure most of us have heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Essentially, if your cup (needs) aren’t being met, there will be nothing to give to your children, creating an empty cup of their own, and the vicious cycle continues.
Unrealistic expectations! Ahhh… if you’re anything like me, the following may sound familiar – “Today I will accomplish 4,051 tasks (all before noon).” And then reality hits. Noon rolls around and I’ve had 4,051 interruptions, leaving me with .5 tasks completed. I used to feel extremely frustrated by these interruptions and daily feelings of failure. Eventually, after a lot of reflection, I realized I was the culprit for my own sense of failure. Once I shifted my expectations and adapted to what was realistic for “my” current world/environment, I noticed a huge shift in how I felt about my daily accomplishments.
Even after setting realistic expectations, something still felt off at the end of the day. I felt better, but my thoughts still lingered on those several tasks that didn’t get done. That, my friends, are the pesky worries I mentioned above. What are we telling ourselves at the end of the day?! Are we too focused on the negatives (i.e. things we didn’t accomplish, mistakes we made)? This can significantly impact how we perceive our world and how we feel about ourselves. Imagine going to bed with the contrary: “Wow, I did a great job today, even with the obstacles thrown my way” or “Although I didn’t handle this how I would have liked, I can learn and grow from this.” Over time, your brain will begin to re-wire itself to thinking and feeling this way… naturally! Initially, it will take some awareness and practice on your end, but it will eventually lead to amazing and automatic changes. “So where do I start,” you may ask! Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a form of being. Being present, grounded, and aware – without interpretation or judgment. Mindfulness can be as simple as just noticing/observing your current mood, sitting with it, and accepting it. Or it can be as complex as using guided imagery or sensory awareness techniques to help you remain grounded. Our brains have a harder time floating back in time or chasing the future when we are fully consumed in the present.
The takeaway: Time is what we make of it!