Wearing the different hats of parenthood requires careful management of the valuable resources of time, money and energy. If we spend any of these carelessly or without replenishment, the results are dire.
While time is a relative constant for everyone and money is variable, the currency of adulthood that we have the most control over is our personal energy. If we spend without replenishing, the consequences can leave us too sick, tired and overwhelmed to fully engage in our own lives, not to mention the lives of those who depend on us.
To do more than merely survive the energy demands placed on you as a parent, a few simple daily tips can help reenergize your physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual energy so you can actually thrive.
Define a Purpose, Create a Short-term Mission
Given the near-constant “noise” of everyday life, it’s easy to become distracted. Beliefs and values that once guided our every action fall by the wayside when we don’t take time to reconnect with them. Large companies create defined mission statements for a reason. They are an articulation of the intention to invest the requisite time, money and energy associated with the company’s core values. Of course, mission statements aren’t just for large companies, and can benefit individuals as well.
Take a moment to write down at least three values that are most important to you as a parent. What would you want your legacy to be with the people you care about the most? Consider these areas:
- Physical (e.g., health)
- Mental (e.g., focused, engaged)
- Emotional (e.g., empathetic, proactive)
- Spiritual (e.g., aligned, committed)
Is this where you are investing your most conscious, best energy? Where are you out of alignment?
Acting contrary to your deepest beliefs and values can create a tremendous strain on personal energy. Consider addressing one area that is out of alignment and write down small, simple daily actions that can help get you back on track over the next 30 to 60 days.
When family, work and other aspects of parental life become hectic, we tend to focus on the things that are going wrong. While it’s important to identify and address the challenges in life, if this is all we do, mental and emotional energy is spent much faster than it’s replenished. Over time, our capacity to overcome challenges is diminished.
To stop needless squandering of energy, begin or end each day by writing down three to five (or more) things you are grateful for. This will temporarily disconnect you, if necessary, from the “everything is wrong” train. The result is a brief recovery for your mental and emotional energy, allowing you energy to overcome challenges when you need it.
Exercise does more than shape your body. From an energy standpoint, it enhances the function of your cells. While age alone can decrease physiological and neural capacity, exercise is one of the most powerful weapons in overcoming this decline.
At the most basic level, human brain and body function depend on the transportation of oxygen and glucose. Circulation is the driving force behind this process. The increase in circulation caused by exercise helps nearly every living tissue in the human body.
While exercising does require energy, the impact on your cells creates a net positive energy gain in addition to improving health. Frequent exercisers don’t exercise because they have energy. They have energy because they exercise. Shoot for a total of at least 30 minutes a day of moderately strenuous exercise. For example, go for a brisk walk, hike, bike ride or any other activity you enjoy that makes you breathe hard.
Eat With Your Hands
Cells are the building blocks of the human body. These building blocks are created, maintained and optimized with the material you provide from the food you eat. When quality material is provided in the right amounts, cell function is at its highest and, of course, the reverse is true.
With constantly competing demands for time and energy, it’s no wonder that, when it comes to food, parents often exchange quality for volume and convenience. Eating too much of the wrong type of food is a recipe for diminished health and energy.
Protein (e.g., meat, fish, tofu, grain combos): A portion that is the size and thickness of your palm
Grain/starch (e.g., potato, rice, pasta): 1-2 small handfuls
Fruit/vegetables: 2 or more handfuls
Your hands are in proportion to the size of your body, so this helps address basic differences in caloric needs.
When it comes to what to eat, prioritize foods that are whole. For example, a sweet potato is a sweet potato. There’s nothing added to make it more colorful or crunchy. Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel. If a certain food makes you sleepy, gassy or has any other negative impact, minimize it in your diet.
Create Your Happy
As parents, it often feels as if we spend all of our time making other people happy. What does happiness mean to you? What simple activity always puts a smile on your face? While happiness tends to be associated with grandiose achievements or “big” life events, what simple everyday things or activities recharge your emotional battery?
For some, it’s listening to music or calling a friend. It may be a hobby. It could be something as simple as looking at pictures of your family. Write down simple, specific things you can do in 5, 15, 30 and 60 minutes to change your emotional state for the better. Keep the list somewhere visible so when you start feeling the emotionally taxed, you have a go-to strategy for an energy reboot.
As a parent, your kids, your family and most of all, YOU, need your best energy. Give these simple daily activities a try so you and your loved ones can live extraordinarily.