So what have we been doing to find balance during this hectic time of life?
I never really get the post-holiday blues, and I think this is because my life so full that I always have something to which I can look forward. Having something fun in sight always keeps me motivated. Even during our darkest days of 2016, I planned family trips to Glacier and the Portland Zoo. When finances were tight, small and budget-friendly ways to fill our days were planned in advance: taking a city bus to the park, walking to story hour at the library, taking hikes, and wildlife watching excursions.
Each Friday, Jeff brought Everett (and sometimes me and the baby when I was on maternity leave) to the Waldorf school for a parent-child class. After each class they would go to a coffee shop or the Donut Parade (RIP) for quality time. Having events on a schedule removes so much daily anxiety. And you are forced to get up, get ready, get out! Our hardest parenting days are the ones we spend cooped up inside with nothing to do.
Put others first
Doing things with kids is never easy. Taking a trip to Glacier with kids is vastly different than the National Parks trips we took a few years ago (we will not be carting 60 lbs of kiddos into the Grand Canyon anytime soon), but Everett soooo appreciated the experience. Even when the wind and rain kept most tourists inside, he wanted to throw rocks into the lake or drive around looking for bears (we saw many!). On a regular basis he asks if we can go to Glacier again. The trip was hard, but it would have been even harder had we not set aside our adult expectations and let the kids have a good time.
I found myself frustrated this Christmas for many different reasons. I was cranky, irritable, and determined to show it! Then I got to thinking, do I want my kids to remember me mad on Christmas day? Do I really want to be selfish and steal away the magic of the day? I did a complete 180 with my attitude, put my family's feelings first, and we had such a great day after that. Turns out empathy feels pretty good.
Make good choices
This year Jeff and I practiced "A Week of [...]" This meant choosing one healthy activity to focus on every day for a week - i.e. monitoring our device usage, eating more servings of fresh and local produce, drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day, drinking tea instead of coffee, exercising daily, going to bed early, etc. By choosing one activity to focus on each week, we were able to create healthier lifestyles for ourselves without the drama.
It's amazing how doing something every day for as short as a week can make the activity essential to your overall health and well-being.
Whether you keep a sketchbook, take pictures, write a poem, paint with your kiddos, or sing a song, art and creativity should be a daily part of life. Checking out an art book from the library and trying to replicate a favorite piece of art is a great way to start. Even if it does not look like the original, the process is important.
I try to practice creativity in my job as well. I ask myself, "What can I do today that is new and exciting? How can I make this process faster or easier in the future?" Take the tools you have and go! Maybe watching a YouTube video about Excel spreadsheets is all you need to streamline a mundane task! You never know until you empower yourself with knowledge and creativity, and you will never be creative and knowledgeable without trying.
Focus on the right things
When I look at my full calendar and limited number of nap time hours, I have to say "No" to many things. And guess what...it feels good. This year I did not bake Christmas cookies. I did not plan a huge birthday bash for Everett. I did not go to Costco as often as I should have. I did not clean the shower for 2 months (calm down I did it the other day). I didn't blog...
I chose to put my limited time and energy elsewhere, and I think my kids benefited from having a balanced mother. I had the energy to get up at 5:00 in the morning to exercise, and guess what, I didn't even shower afterwards. Gasp! No one noticed. The shower was dirty anyway.
Never look back
Don't hold grudges. It's just too much weight for a human heart to bear. We are all human, we all have our own viewpoints, and things/people that are different can be scary. Just do what makes you happy and gives you the least amount of anxiety, and stop judging others for their choices if those choices are different from your own. We are more alike than we realize, and we each just have a different way of experiencing the world. Stop hating on my Flow, because I already stopped hating on yours.
So my New Year's Resolution? To keep doing all these things, but to do them exponentially better.