We all start out with a vision or dream of what it will be like to be a parent. Maybe you envisioned rocking your baby, quietly strolling through the park, and eventually coaching a t-ball team. What we fail to envision is the bit of chaos that comes with being a parent. Frazzled, tired, overwhelmed—do any of those words fit into your dream of parenthood? Probably not. But they are a new parent’s reality.
I think everyone benefits from some alone and quiet time, but this is especially true for parents. We are usually running at full speed from the time the sun comes up until we crash on the pillow late at night. One of my favorite books, The Janitor by Todd Hopkins and Ray Hilbert, explains that a burned-out brain won’t start. We’re in a state of constant reacting—to cries, phone calls, emails, dirty diapers, carpools and a blur of children’s TV. We seem to define success as filling every moment with tasks and information. It’s no wonder so many parents feel overwhelmed. We feel guilty for taking time to renew our own spirit. But if we did, we would likely have renewed energy to take on the world.
One of the best parts of my day is what I call a “Take 10.” No matter how hectic my day may be, I schedule quiet time for myself. I literally put on a timer and carve out 10 minutes. It’s during my moments of quiet that everything comes into place. Solutions seem to rise to the surface, peace comes over my body, and my energy is renewed to keep up with the rest of my day.
When your day is already packed, how do you find the time for this?
- Wake up earlier. Wake up before your family and sit with no technology—TV, radio, computer or phone. Do nothing but have a cup of tea and meditate on what you want to get out of your day. (To make up for the lost sleep time—after all, I know that you’re already sleep deprived—try to go to bed a few minutes earlier.)
- Take a bath. Nothing offers me instant relaxation like a bath. About once a week, after my kids go to bed, I light some candles and dip into the tub. During this time I do nothing but reflect, which helps me feel better immediately.
- Go for a walk or run. My mind fills with thoughts and ideas as I move peacefully through nature. A quiet walk or run can help shed stress and tension even on the toughest day.
- Enjoy your drive. When going for a drive without the kids in the car, turn everything off (that means no phone or radio!). You’ll find that these moments of solitude can also bring great regeneration.
- Meditate. Make a small corner of your home your personal sanctuary for decluttering your mind. Include in this space a special pillow, blanket or candle, and find a few moments throughout the week to clear your mind, breathe and let your stresses float away. When you meditate, your thinking mind becomes quiet.
The bottom line is that you need to find a way to bring peace into your life and your family. It’s when you feel like you don’t have any time that you need a break the most. You’ll be astounded at the progress you’ll make with a little bit of time for “me.”